About-face time

By STEVEN STARK  |  August 15, 2007

But every time Edwards goes to his left, Dennis Kucinich — who has no chance to be president and therefore can take any stand he pleases with impunity — goes further left. This has the effect of making Edwards look like just another timid moderate, which is hardly what he is.

If anything, Obama fares worse in these debates. His advantage is that he’s different and new, with all the excitement that comes with those attributes. But the more he appears on a stage with seven very conventional politicians, the more he appears as conventional as they are. In every debate, he loses a bit more charisma.

What’s more, an odd dynamic has crept into the Democratic debates. The old hands of Washington — Joe Biden and Chris Dodd — have apparently taken offense at the temerity of Obama’s assuming that he can be president without putting in as many years in Washington as they have. So, they’ve begun to ally themselves with familiar-face Hillary in the debates, as they did recently in an exchange over Obama’s comments about whether he’d meet with rogue foreign leaders during his first year in office.

It may be that this entire furor over early debates will have little effect on a public that, by and large, isn’t watching them right now. But they do affect the press a lot. Obama and Edwards would be well served to drop out of the debates now and take their case to the people. Otherwise, come January, they may find that the things that once made them distinctive no longer exist.

Racing notes
John McCain is down slightly because he continues to fade. Mitt Romney is down slightly, despite his straw-poll victory, because the strong second-place showing in that poll by Mike Huckabee is a possible threat to a Romney Iowa victory in January, even if Huckabee only pulls five to 10 percent then. As Edwards falls slightly, both Hillary and Obama gain slightly.

REPUBLICANS
RUDY GIULIANI
Odds: 5-3 | past week: same
MITT ROMNEY
Odds: 4-1| 7-2
NEWT GINGRICH
Odds: 5-1 | same
FRED THOMPSON
Odds: 6-1 | same
JOHN McCAIN
Odds: 11-1 | 9-1
MIKE HUCKABEE
Odds: 30-1 | 80-1
SAM BROWNBACK
Odds: 500-1 | 1,000
DUNCAN HUNTER
Odds: 100,000-1 | 50,000-1
RON PAUL
Odds: 100,000-1 | same
TOM TANCREDO
Odds: 150,000-1| same

DEMOCRATS
BARACK OBAMA
Odds: 5-4 | past week: 4-3
HILLARY CLINTON
Odds: 4-3 | 3-2
JOHN EDWARDS
Odds: 8-1 | 6-1
BILL RICHARDSON
Odds: 65-1 | same
JOE BIDEN
Odds: 75-1 | same
CHRIS DODD
Odds: 250-1 | 150-1
DENNIS KUCINICH
Odds: 100,000-1 | same
MIKE GRAVEL
Odds: 8 million to 1 | 4 million to 1

On the Web
The Presidential Tote Board blog: http://www.thephoenix.com/toteboard

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