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Potomac Confidential
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Potomac Confidential

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Marc Fisher
Post Metro Columnist
Wednesday, February 13, 2008; 1:00 PM

Potomac Confidential fills the midday lull with discussion by Metro columnist Marc Fisher, who looks at the latest news with a rigorous slicing and dicing of the issues that define who we are and where we live.

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Fisher was online Thursday, Feb. 13, at Noon ET to dissect the results of Tuesday's Potomac Primary in D.C., Maryland and Virginia and analyze how residents in the region voted for the presidential candidates.

Check out Marc's blog, Raw Fisher.

In his weekly show, Fisher veers wildly from serious probing to silly prattle, and is open to topics local, national, personal and more.

Archives: Discussion Transcripts

A transcript follows.

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Marc Fisher: Welcome aboard, folks. Well, that was certainly a more interesting and meaningful evening than most anyone could have anticipated even a couple of months ago. Not decisive, perhaps, but indicative of a changing attitude among many Americans toward the Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton candidacies and, on the Republican side, of continuing strong misgivings on the part of many conservatives toward John McCain.

It would be hard to read the results from Virginia as anything but confirmation that the state is very much in play in November, even if Virginians have not voted Democratic for president since LBJ in 1964. The Obama phenomenon produced a powerful increase in turnout--more than twice as many people took part in the Democratic primary in Virginia than the Republican primary.

And we ought not let the presidential vote entirely overshadow the remarkable ouster of two sitting congressmen in Maryland, Rep. Al Wynn from Prince George's and Montgomery counties, and Rep. Wayne Gilchrist from the Eastern Shore and Anne Arundel County. In both of those cases, voters rejected congressmen who were perceived as having strayed too far from party orthodoxies--so clearly, despite the Obama lovefest, we're not close to being done with this period of political polarization.

The board is open to your thoughts and comments--and if you've been watching the Roger Clemens showdown live from Congress as I have all morning, feel free to pipe in on that too. Is Clemens all bluster? Could Brian McNamee be more of a liar? Do his admitted lies negate the notion that he is finally telling the truth? And if you do consider McNamee a slime, then how do you explain Andy Pettitte's testimony? What possible reason would he have to lie?

Here we go....

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Bloomingdale, D.C.: Well, I would say yesterday was pretty decisive. Yet, as a D.C. resident who is not used to being allowed to play in the political process, I couldn't help but notice that there are more superdelegates in the District than pledged delegates. This bothers me particularly because the superdelegates appear to be voting opposite the general population. Is there somewhere that I can obtain a list of superdelegates and their votes in order to start looking closely at those members who, in the end, throw their votes against voters in their respective districts?

I am fearful of the possibility that superdelegates will choose a candidate who clearly loses the popular vote. What a blow to the Democratic party that would be.

Marc Fisher: The joy and power of being a superdelegate is that you don't have to declare your preference and you don't have to stick to your declared preference should you make one public. Basically, you can do whatever you want. So while you can find lists of uncommitted and committed superdelegates at various sites--such as this one:

http://demconwatch.blogspot.com/2008/01/superdelegate-list.html

--it's also important to remember that superdelegates, being mostly elected officials, will sway with the winds, switching their allegiances as the voting public shifts.

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Alexandria, Va.: Marc, my 67-year-old father called me last night crying, because he was so happy Obama won Virginia. He was born at the end of the Depression in Southwest Va,, when they Byrd machine ran the state. He was lucky enough to have parents who stressed education, and was able to go to college, where he took part in the first sit-ins in Virginia. He is so happy that Virginians, all Virginians, not just blacks, voted for Obama. He said this means so much more to him than Doug Wilder's win back in the 80's, because Obama had every demographic voting for him in his blowout. Unless HRC does the unthinkable and wins Texas and/or Ohio by 40 points, I don't see how she can win this thing.

Marc Fisher: Her path is becoming much, much harder to see. Virginia indeed was the first state in which Obama won a majority of white men, according to exit polls. That's an important shift and apparently a growing one. But Clinton is still winning white women. The Post's Dan Balz said last night that while the Clinton campaign might now switch tactics and try a whole new message, there are also those in the campaign who believe their message is not broken and that they retain a big advantage in the coming states. I'm something of a believer in momentum, however, and so I think she'd have to stage something fairly dramatic to try to stop Obama's progress at this point.

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Williamsburg, Va.: A female professional friend of mine has suggested for months that American men, who otherwise do not feel strongly about one candidate, would more likely vote for a black man than a woman to be president. The Post's interactive map was very illustrative of this comment. Other than the extreme southwestern part of Virginia, with its own voting preferences and peculiarities, Obama won all of Virginia. As Howie Kurtz pointed out, white men voted overwhelmingly for Obama. Don't these results suggest that my friend is correct, America is more ready to elect a black man to be president than a woman?

Marc Fisher: Well, I don't think you can extrapolate attitudes toward black and female candidates generally based on reactions to Obama and Clinton personally. Clinton has been such a lightning rod for so long in this country that it's hard to judge her appeal solely based on the fact that she's a woman. Is it possible to still harbor racist attitudes and support Obama for president? Probably--it's very much in the nature of stereotyping and bias to treat the group one way while treating individuals another. So I'm not sure how far we can use this contest as a barometer of personal change in this country, but it is fair to say that the Obama success indicates a step forward or at least a recognition of the progress that this society has made.

To your point, though, no, I still think that if you constructed a hypothetical perfect white woman candidate and polled against a hypothetical perfect black man candidate, you'd find the woman winning. But that's a pure guess on my part.

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Four Corners, Md.: Do the Superdelegates cast their votes anonymously? If not, how could the Clinton campaign think that Superdelegates would risk the wrath of Democrat voters by going against Barack (assuming he goes into the convention with the most delegates from the primaries)?

Marc Fisher: No, the superdelegates at the convention will cast their votes publicly, and that's why, when I posed your question last night on washingtonpost.com's video coverage to Rep. Chris Van Hollen, the Montgomery County Democrat who runs the House Democratic campaign committee, he wouldn't commit to a particular candidate, but made it clear that it would be tough to go against his constituents. And his constituents came out strongly for Obama last night. So Van Hollen, like other superdelegates, has now been served notice by his voters.

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Lilburn, Ga.: Please speak to the possibility -- likelihood? -- of a strong Republican crossover vote for Obama to deny Clinton the Democratic nomination. My son did that here in Georgia. The ratios of votes for Republican candidates to votes for Democratic candidates is suspect, esp. in "Red" states. Thank you.

Marc Fisher: I'm willing to grant the idea that a fair number of Republicans were either inspired by Obama or mischievously inclined to cross over and vote against Hillary Clinton yesterday in Virginia. But in general, that strategic mischief is far more talked about than acted upon. Larry Sabato, the University of Virginia political scientist, says that in Virginia, no more than 2 percent of voters make that move.

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Washington, DC..: It seems calculated that Clinton's campaign keeps announcing the staff shake-ups the same days as her losses. Is this an attempt to take the headline from the Obama wins? Or maybe it is supposed to be a sign that she is making the necessary changes? Or that she's setting up the underdog narrative? Or is it just a coincidence?

Marc Fisher: Doesn't seem like a coincidence. A lot of PR types counsel getting all the bad news out at once, so that you don't get second and third waves of negative news coverage. The departure of the deputy campaign manager, announced amid all the bad news for Clinton that was rolling in last night, certainly fits that prescription.

The information management in the Clinton campaign is generally well done, but it's so slick that it tends to rub voters the wrong way. When the networks switched to Clinton speaking in Texas last night, and she then said not a word about the results in the Potomac Primaries, that may seem like moving on and acting positively to some voters in Texas, but it comes off to most viewers as phony--a willful denial of the events of the day. It only adds to the sense of entitlement that pervades her campaign.

_______________________

Landover, Md.: As a federal employee, I feel the 4th District has made a real mistake in ousting Rep. Wynn. I'm also a single mom and victim of domestic violence and Donna Edwards somehow did not ring true for me. But at least she's not a Republican! I wish Rep. Wynn all the best.

Marc Fisher: I was amazed looking at the returns precinct by precinct this morning in the Wynn-Edwards race to find enormous shifts in voting from her 2006 challenge, which she lost by three points, to today's big victory. In almost every corner of Prince George's County, Edwards benefitted from the huge increase in turnout occasioned by the Obama candidacy. Edwards' vote in the Montgomery County portion of the district improved over 2006, but only slightly. It was the massive turnout of Obama supporters that put Edwards over the top.

_______________________

Falls Church, Va.: According to the Potomac Primary results, a high percentage of voters preferred "other," rather than McCain or Huckabee. The fact that so many voters would go out of their way to NOT endorse one of the two front-runners -- do you think that the fractious undercurrents of dissatisfaction in the GOP are going to be a major issue for the eventual nominee?

Marc Fisher: Yes and no. It's important for McCain to try to neutralize the outright opposition and the protest vote--one in ten Virginia Republicans voted yesterday for a non-existent candidate, one of the various folks who have dropped out of the race--shows that he has not yet done that. But in the longer run, what we're seeing is a strong indication that McCain's appeal is largely to the center, which is where any presidential candidate must focus in the general election. And the longer the Democratic campaign continues, the harder it will be for the winner there to start that inevitable move to the center. McCain will have had a headstart both in time and in his foundational support all along.

_______________________

Washington, D.C.: I was watching John King and his fancy map on CNN last night, and it seemed hilarious that he kept saying Hillary and Huckabee were both looking to the same part of Va, for victories...I couldn't help but think King's next words were "Hillary's the Huckabee for the Dems." Obviously it's not a perfect comparison, but the more Obama wins, is it starting to become a little more apt? (Or would the more apt comparison be Hillary and the other one-time presumptive nominee, Guiliani?)

Marc Fisher: Well, Clinton certainly has wider appeal than Huckabee, whose support has shown up primarily in conservative, white, religious areas. But you're right about the Virginia maps--take a look at the interactive county-by-county maps on washingtonpost.com and you'll see that Clinton and Huckabee won almost precisely the same counties, mainly in far southwestern Virginia, in largely white, quite conservative regions.

_______________________

Goose and gander: Funny how those worried about Republicans trying to foul up the Democratic primary in Virginia haven't considered whether Democrats came over to goose the vote for Huckabee so we can get the Constitution aligned with God's law...

Marc Fisher: I haven't run into anyone who did that, but I'd love to hear from anyone who fits that bill. If more than the usual number of Repos did cross over yesterday, there are three reasons for that: The appeal of Obama, the desire to deal Clinton a mortal blow, and the sense that the Republican contest was more or less over. I don't see similar lures drawing folks in the other direction.

_______________________

Huntsville, Ala.: We crossed over here for Obama deliberately to stick it to Hillary. The Democratic turnout was as high as the Republican, which is rare. Although, I will give Obama a shot to win Alabama, but not Hillary.

Marc Fisher: I hear more and more of that from Democrats and independents, and the exit polling in Virginia backs that up: 57 percent of Clinton supporters said they'd be satisfied if Obama is the nominee, while only 45 percent of Obama supporters said the same of Clinton.

_______________________

Anonymous: When will faith and morals become and issue in these campaigns? that's not meant to be a rhetorical question, though it does seem odd that it's not another wedge issue thus far. I just cannot see the conservative right being so silent throughout this presidential race.

Marc Fisher: Morals are very much at the core of how the voting has gone thus far, in my view. Obama and McCain's strongest similarity with one another--and the sharpest contrast they pose with the other candidates they've faced this year--is that Obama and McCain are both moralists of a sort. Both are acclaimed by their supporters for their honesty and integrity. That seems to be the character piece that many Americans crave after all of the ethical controversies of the Bush years.

_______________________

Arlington, Va.: No Yay or Nay -- I feel cheated!

Marc Fisher: Hey, it's a special edition and the Yay/Nay team was up way too late last night to have cranked out winners by deadline today. They'll be severely punished for this transgression and will return next week, appropriately chastened.

_______________________

Mount Pleasant, Washington, D.C.: Ballots! I am really frustrated that my polling place ran out of paper ballots from about 6 until 7:30 last night. About 50 people were lined up to use the one electronic machine. Why wouldn't they just stock extra ballots at each site? It's a one page piece of paper.

Who is responsible for this problem?

Marc Fisher: There were a few precincts around the region where the stock of ballots ran low--that's something to celebrate in a way, because it was the unusually high turnout that caused the problem. And as long as the electronic backup system was operating, no big harm done, right?

_______________________

Alexandria, Va.: Marc,

Did I get to vote? No. Left the office last night early -- 5 p.m. -- from 12th and Independence Ave, NW, D.C. Arrived home at Edsall Rd., Alexandria inside the Beltway at -- 9:20 p.m. Why, oh why didn't Va. extend voting hours like Md.? I saw thousands of cars stopped dead for hours on I-395. I'm sure lots of them were like me, trying desperately to get to the polls.

Marc Fisher: Ouch--that's bad. But the ice situation did come up on the area quickly and unexpectedly. At 4:15, I was listening to a weathercast that anticipated zero freezing and a rise in temps that would have made for a freeflowing election night. To their credit, the D.C. salt trucks were out in force from early yesterday afternoon, but according to WTOP's Bob Marbourg, the suburban jurisdictions were not nearly that prescient.

_______________________

Silver Spring, Md.: I took my wife to vote at 8:05, after the Md. hours were extended. While I was there, I counted 7 cars driving up to vote. That's 7 more people that got the chance to vote because of longer poll hours. This must have been the case throughout the state and, to me, is a strong argument for longer poll hours. Do you agree?

Marc Fisher: I'm all for extending voting hours, especially a little deeper into the evening--it's a vastly better way to expand access than all this early voting nonsense we see in some states. This primary season has shown yet again the danger of those early voting schemes--if you vote days or weeks ahead of Election Day, you lose your chance to adjust your vote as the campaign changes the dynamics of the race. Do you think Hillary Clinton would win California and New Jersey today? Things change.

_______________________

Male V Female Delegates: I voted for the first time in Maryland this election. I was asked to choose three female and three male delegates and vote for the candidate. What is all of this voting I was doing? We are these delegates? And if they are who I am really voting for, why do I also vote for the candidate. Is it possible that people vote for some delegates for each candidate?

Marc Fisher: Democratic delegates are selected in several ways. Your candidate preference vote goes into the statewide tally, which results in an apportioning of a certain number of delegates to the winner according to his margin of victory. Then you are also electing delegates from your local community, and they are pledged to a particular candidate. And then there are the superdelegates, whom you don't get to vote for directly, but who are generally elected officeholders and who are then chosen to go to the convention by party members in a process that's open to any Democrats who want to show up and take part. It's confusing, but there's pressure on all of the delegates to conform to the voice of the voters.

_______________________

Superdelegates?: What is the reasoning behind having these superdelegates? It doesn't seem fair to the voting process. Isn't the vote supposed to be what the PEOPLE want, not what former elected officials want?

Marc Fisher: In my party, we would have no superdelegates. They were created back in the 1970s, if I recall correctly, as a compromise, as the rules governing the Democratic conventions were changed to give primary voters a bigger voice and end decades of power being vested in the hands of the party bosses. The superdelegates were a sop to the insiders, giving them a voice in the selection process and an automatic path to the convention floor.

_______________________

Alexandria, Va.: Do you know why I have to tell the election workers which primary I'll be voting in -- why can't I just choose it once I get to the touch screens? I was sort of embarrassed to say "Republican" yesterday to a room full of election workers (I was the only voter there) in a heavily Democratic area. (Also, I don't consider myself a Republican.) It just seems like they could set up the touch screens where you pick your primary first and then the candidate... right? Why the human involvement in my voting preferences?!

Marc Fisher: Interesting question. In the District, where the pollworker has to know which paper ballot to hand you, you have to announce your party--well, it's obvious from the color of the receipt you get from the clerk--for a good reason. In Virginia, you're right--if they're going to have open primaries and the technology makes it possible, it makes sense for the choice to be made at the voting screen.

_______________________

6th Ward Voter: Marc,

DCist has put up a map of how D.C. voted by precinct. Obama won every one.

The District Is With Obama ( DCist)

Marc Fisher: Just like Fenty. Pretty remarkable when you consider some of those upper Northwest precincts with strong populations of liberal white women of Clinton's age and political background.

_______________________

Washington, D.C.: The people that voted for Obama just to "stick it" to Hillary -- how do you think they will vote in November? Or will they even bother to?

Marc Fisher: That's a core question--hard core Dems and Repos may not understand this, but everywhere I go, I find lots of people who are really on the fence between Obama and McCain. They see much to admire in both and they like them for similar reasons. Whereas the Clinton-McCain choice is a lot easier for most of those people.

_______________________

Washington, D.C.: If you want to make it easier for voters to reach the polls, you don't need early voting or extended hours, just hold the election on a Saturday!

Marc Fisher: I don't think so--on the weekends, you run into more traffic, people going out of town, people with all sorts of family obligations. If you extend the hours on a weekday, you get around the work issue and give everyone a shot at voting.

_______________________

Fairfax County, Va.: The police closure of large parts of the Springfield Mixing Bowl during rush hour due to dangerous ice ensured that many voters were in stopped (not just stop and go) traffic for hours. I was one of them but fortunately I had voted in the morning. I listened a lot to the news yesterday, though, and had no idea such a disaster was coming -- I'm sure other voters didn't either. The news also suggested (as I crawled along) that there were similar messes on other major arteries in northern Virginia.

Why were the polls not held open in Virginia, when they were in Maryland? Bad weather is an accepted reason to do this. Voters should have the chance to vote. Was it because Virginia is so much bigger, or a northern Virginia vs. rest of Virginia thing?

Marc Fisher: Two reasons spring to mind: Virginia's polls closed an hour earlier, so there was less time for officials to figure out just how messy the roads situation had become, and the weather system hit a much larger proportion of Maryland--and it's a much smaller state--so it was easier to get state officials to make a statewide decision. In sprawling Virginia, you'd be hard pressed to get officials in Richmond to get terribly excited about icing in the Washington suburbs.

_______________________

Arlington, Va.: The defeat of Al Wynn was amazing because it was not even close. Apparently, his constituents found it was time for him to go. Speaking of time to go, is there any prospect that someone will run against my district's Congressman Jim Moran? And possibly have a chance?

Marc Fisher: No and no. Though it's a fair question. That district has shown again and again that it will stick by Rep. Moran pretty much no matter what he does.

_______________________

University Park, Md.: Do you think that any of the 'anti-Hillary' sentiment could be due to the fact that she's being punished for her husband's perceived transgressions? Most Democrats thought the entire Whitewater/impeachment of Clinton was a Republican sideshow, not worthy of our elected officials. On the other hand, they weren't pleased that Clinton's behavior caused the fracas in the first place; they still blame him partly for the Party's loss in 2000, and simply don't want to put him back in the White House in any capacity.

Marc Fisher: I hear this more and more, from both white and black voters. Some cite Bill Clinton's comments during the South Carolina primary, others just talk about his constant presence during this campaign. "I've had enough of the Clintons," a longtime Clinton supporter told me Monday--two days after she had switched over to Obama.

Back to campaign matters in a few mins, but first, a visit to some other topics on your minds....

_______________________

Former local radio personality dies: Marc, in the obituaries today was one for Brooke Stevens, who died at the age of 45 in a hospice. She was the first female airborne traffic reporter with WMAL and later co-hosted a radio talkshow with Chris Core. Also worked in Baltimore and also worked as a singer.

Marc Fisher: Yes, Chris Core, the morning host on WMAL, alerted me to Brooke's death earlier this week and I asked our obituary desk to see if they could work up something, which they were pleased to do. Brooke Stevens was a much-liked voice on local airwaves for many years.

_______________________

Fairfax, Va.: Marc, curious your thoughts on the firing of William and Mary's president Gene Nichol? Most of the students are up in arms but the conservative alumni and state legislators seem to be pleased with the decision.

Marc Fisher: I hope to get into this in the column or on the blog soon--President Gene Nichol was essentially forced out because of his strong and controversial positions on behalf of free speech in both the Wren Cross and sex show cases. He apparently wasn't the most politic of campus presidents, but he was on the side of right when it comes to issues of personal freedom, which is indeed embattled on too many campuses.

_______________________

Clemens: It seems like this nanny who was or wasn't at the Canseco party could be a big key. And why was Delegate Norton quoting Bruce Springsteen?

Marc Fisher: I've been surprised to see this much of a party-based split among the congressmen in their attitudes toward Roger Clemens.

If anyone could figure out the D.C. delegate's final salute to Clemens, please let me know. Coming after her more critical questioning, it threw me for a loop.

Best exchange of the hearing so far--just a few minutes ago, a congressman ran Clemens through a series of questions about his eating behavior. When the questioning came to "Have you ever been a vegan?" there was a long pause.

Finally, Clemens said, "I don't know what that is, I'm sorry."

I love that.

_______________________

Reston, Va.: Hi Marc -- I (like many commuters I am sure) have seen the ads in the Express talking about how some guy wants to protest the Discovery Channel. What is the story with this? Who would want to protest the Discovery Channel of all places? Am I missing something -- I mean, what did they ever do (or not do) that would justify a protest? Maybe I missed the joke. Thanks.

Marc Fisher: Beats me. Anyone?

_______________________

Falls Church, Va.: So today I watched a cabbie pass a bus (single lane street) then run a stop sign. I called the company and spoke with a manager, but how do I know what, if any result?

Marc Fisher: You could also call the taxi commission and register your complaint there. And you could follow up with the cab company, but in the end, all you can be certain of is that you did the right thing in reporting the incident.

_______________________

Alexandria, Va.: I'm a moderate Republican who made the move to vote for Obama rather than Hillary. McCain seems to have the nomination pretty well taken care of, and I wanted to vote against Hillary if McCain didn't absolutely need my vote.

I'm not sure for whom I'll vote in November; could still be McCain. There are more than a few like me; I'd be surprised if it's as low as 2 percent, as claimed above.

Marc Fisher: As I said above, it makes sense to me that there are more of you this time around than most years. But it's hard to imagine that you and your friends made up a big chunk of the voting.

_______________________

Arlington, Va.: I thought the county-by-county vote map for Virginia was interesting on the Democratic side, with the southwest part of the state voting for Clinton and all the rest going for Obama. Was this expected, based on the demographics of the different regions?

Marc Fisher: Well, it was certainly hoped for by the Clinton campaign, which devoted a lot of time and energy to that part of the state. But the southwest is Virginia's most sparsely populated region, so there was never going to be big bang for the buck there.

_______________________

Washington, D.C.: I happen to agree with the poster who said America will elect a black man before they'll elect a white woman.

Marc Fisher: It may look that way right now, but would you have said that a year ago? Most folks I talk to say not.

_______________________

Tenleytown (Washington, D.C.): What's this about a new multi-million dollar lawsuit in D.C.? This time it's against Best Buy for losing a laptop.

Marc Fisher: Yes, some joker has filed a $54 million suit against Best Buy for losing a laptop she had put in for repairs. It's a pure publicity ploy trading on the Roy Pearson pants case. I don't see any reason to give it a big ride just because some plaintiff came up with a cute PR stunt.

_______________________

Baltimore, Md.: Re the defeat of Wayne Gilchrest: So, in there infinite wisdom, the voters of Md.'s first district turned out a man with seniority and the proven ability to work across the aisle in exchange for a "Club for Growth" Republican, and this in a year when a Democratic landslide for the House is predicted. So, 1st District folks, look forward to no goodies and to a Congressman whose committee assignments will likely include something to do with Guam.

Marc Fisher: Of course you can say the same thing about the Donna Edwards victory over Al Wynn. There's always that danger in ousting an incumbent, but voters are clearly viewing this election as a turning point, an opportunity to throw the bums out and send a message and whatever other political cliche you'd like me to toss into this sentence.

_______________________

Washington, D.C.: McCain highlighted in his speech last night Obama's lack of substance in his speeches. It seems to me that the media isn't really pressing hard on Obama for substance and even Clinton's campaign isn't pointing this out as effectively as they should be. However, over the past few days there seems to be more articles that discuss this lack of substance in Obama's speeches. Can we expect the media to start to pick up on this more and more before the other primaries? It seems like it is a valid point that should be discussed.

Marc Fisher: I don't see it: I went to Clinton and Obama rallies this weekend and while Clinton delivers a more wonkish speech, with more obscure names of laws, they both lay out a long list of initiatives and policy positions on everything from Iraq to health care to college loans. If you want to go deeper, both of their websites are chockablock with highly specific position papers. I don't see much of a distinction there.

_______________________

Washington, D.C.: Some argue there's no traction for the Limbaugh-Hannity crusade against McCain. Isn't it a moot issue for now, but a key issue come the post primary race?

Marc Fisher: I don't see how that issue would stay alive past the moment Huckabee drops out. Where would that contingent of the GOP have to go? Toward what end would they be pushing that line? Surely if McCain runs and loses, all of those conservatives would come back with four years of I-told-you-so whining. But if he wins, those same folks would be scampering for a place at the table. Suddenly, McCain would be their hero too.

_______________________

Discovery Channel protest: There was an ad in the City Paper, I believe, from an environmental organization criticizing the Discovery Channel. If I remember the argument right, it went like this:

"The Discovery Channel makes money off of nature documentaries. However, the environment is still getting worse. Therefore, the Channel is essentially lying to the public because its programs are not having the positive impact on the environment that the Channel implies."

Yes, that sounds very silly, but that's what I read. Anyone else see this?

Marc Fisher: Thanks for the info. The last animal show I saw on TV was Marlin Perkins' Wild Kingdom, in black and white, so I am relying entirely on you all on this one.

_______________________

Women : Black man were certainly given the vote before white or black women. But the fact that both the white women and the black man trounced the white guy is remarkable.

Marc Fisher: True, but white women broke through to economic power well before blacks did in this country.

_______________________

Dupont Circle, Washington, D.C.: Maybe too late for chat. I thought it was strange that no one asked me for any ID (drivers or voting card) when I voted yesterday in Ward 2.

Marc Fisher: That's standard in the District. I've long thought I could just come back every hour and vote as another one of the dead folks in my neighborhood who are still in the voters rolls. But of course I would never do such a thing.

_______________________

To the Alexandria Republican: They have to ask you because they are required to physically record what ballot you voted on, and also which one you DIDN'T vote on, so that you can't vote twice, once on each ballot.

Marc Fisher: But couldn't you program the touch screen to do that recording for you?

_______________________

Washington, D.C.: As a Republican, I think my fellow party members would be making a big mistake to cross over and vote for Obama over Clinton. Obama brings with him new voters (young and African American) that are unlikely to vote if he loses the nomination. He also appeals to moderate voters who McCain will need to win. Quite honestly, the one way to get conservative Republicans to vote for McCain is to say that Hillary Clinton will be president if you don't.

Marc Fisher: When you start to count up the number of prominent Republicans who are making this argument publicly, you have to ask, if they are so convinced they would run stronger against Clinton, why are they being so open about saying that Obama would be a tougher opponent? And why would Republicans then go out and vote against the candidate they'd most like to run against?

_______________________

Fairfax County, Va.: People have been criticizing the Democratic system that is the opposite of winner-take-all, but I think it motivated voters and volunteers around here. As a northern Virginia Obama volunteer I put in about 20 hours this week, more than I did for Webb or Kaine in their whole campaigns. I knew that every vote counted and that the bigger the margin of victory, the more delegates.

And for Hillary voters, they knew that even if they lost the state, every vote they got increased their (smaller) delegate count or diminished Obama's gain, however you choose to look at it. I was up at the polls in the cold handing out leaflets at 6 a.m. and at a Metro station doing the same at 5 p.m. That wouldn't have happened in a winner-take-all system where the exact totals didn't matter.

Marc Fisher: Good point--the apportioned system does potentially lead to longer and closer fights for a nomination, as we're seeing this year. And this system is more democratic and closer to the ground than the winner take all method. But winner take all is more reflective of how our overall political system is structured. There are good arguments for both.

_______________________

Bethesda, Md.: Three requests for comments:

1. Now that we have completed the first traditional Potomac Primary, will we see this sort of regional primary date in the future?

2. Are the people of New Hampshire laughing at us for allowing a little freezing rain to require extending voting hours?

3. What will McCain (assuming, of course that he is nominated) say about the inevitable "swift-boating" that the wingnuts will aim at Obama (assuming, of course that he is nominated)?

Marc Fisher: I think the success of this primary will be a powerful incentive for the region to come together again in the future. And given the movement for regional primaries across the country, that could work nicely.

Well, ice is tougher to drive on than snow, but yes, we are weather wusses of the first order.

I tried that last question on the guests on Raw Fisher Radio yesterday and both the Clinton and Obama supporters agreed that while it might be nice to dream about a campaign in which both sides feel compelled not to go harshly negative, that's not a realistic scenario. When it comes to fighting for the presidency, the gloves will come off.

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White Woman or Black Man for President?: I would think America would elect a (generic) white woman before a (generic) black man. My conclusion is based on the number of white women and black men elected as governors and senators.

Marc Fisher: Good point.

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Washington, D.C.:30 some odd percent of voter turnout in the District? For this we are patting ourselves on the back?

Marc Fisher: Sad as it may be, 30 percent turnout is massive for a primary.

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Silver Spring, Md.: Did you see Michelle Obama on Larry King on Monday night? She is phenomenal. Truly a class act. She was poised, graceful and smart. She handled Larry like a 2-dollar bill, when he tried to lead her to some controversial/negative areas. She could run for president. She seemed poised to handle both Hillary and Bill. If Obama wins she will be an outstanding first lady!

Marc Fisher: I haven't had a chance to hear her yet--I'm told she's an impressive speaker.

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Arlington, Va.: Watching the national media coverage of Virginia made me realize what a great group of politicians we have including Mark and John Warner, Jim Webb, Doug Wilder, Tim Kaine etc.

John Warner in particular had an interview on Chris Mathews where he just exhibited a grace and decorum that is lacking in many other politicians these days.

Marc Fisher: Yes, Virginia is an unusually good place for producing high quality politicians. That comes in part from having a legislature that gets taken very seriously in much of the state and from having had for many years a strong complement of newspapers that cover the General Assembly closely, making state politics a big part of the popular conversation--which does not happen anymore in many states.

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Marc Fisher: Gotta run and we're well over our alloted time. Thanks for coming along. No Potomac Confidential tomorrow because of today's special edition--the show returns to its regular time next week. A primaries edition of Raw Fisher Radio is up on the web site, and the blog will have more on the primaries later today. The column is back tomorrow and Sunday.

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Editor's Note: washingtonpost.com moderators retain editorial control over Discussions and choose the most relevant questions for guests and hosts; guests and hosts can decline to answer questions. washingtonpost.com is not responsible for any content posted by third parties.


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