Here are your eight highlights from the 2008 presidential campaign trail for this week:
1) Mitt Romney, in an incredible act of staging, raised some $6.5 million in cash and pledges Monday with a giant call-a-thon in Boston. The figure sent shockwaves through many campaign observers, and appears to have even surprised Romney's low-balling staff. To get a sense of just how much the stakes have been raised since the 2004 campaign, remember that John Edwards in the first quarter of 2003 created a major stir by raising some $7.4 million in three months, and he was the only candidate in 2003 to raise more than $4 million in a singlemonth (March). Now most serious candidates are talking about raising more than $100 million in 2007 alone.
2) Romney also began to feel the heat of a presidential front-runner: Senator Sam Brownback tried to undercut Romney's big news by announcing a series of endorsements from social conservatives in Romney's home base of Massachusetts. Plus video from Romney's 1994 debate with Ted Kennedy during that year's senate race surfaced that showed Romney more moderate than he professes to be now. Romney's campaign hit right back, posting on YouTube a video of Romney calling in to a conservative talk show to defend himself just hours after the old video surfaced. Lesson: The news cycle is getting ever shorter.
3) Senators Chris Dodd and Joe Biden, both long-shot candidates, announced this week that they'd be entering the Democratic race—Biden on Meet the Press and Dodd on Imus. Neither announcement was a surprise, both candidacies have long been anticipated and, in the same breath, dismissed, but both Biden and Dodd appear to have lined up some heavy-hitting staff: Party veteran Luis Navarro will head Biden's effort, and Dodd has Jim Jordan, who served as Kerry's campaign manager.
4) Speaking of John Kerry, he's continuing to assemble staff—adding former Daily News reporter and DC mayoral spokesperson Vince Morris and former Gephardt advisor Erik Smith—for a campaign even though his party is still recovering from the debacle of his 2004 campaign. A new memoir this month by former DNC Chairman Terry McAuliffe adds more fuel to the fire that Kerry's campaign was mismanaged, poorly executed, and a mess from the start. In a book where McAuliffe loves nearly everyone he mentions, it's certainly notable how much he blasts the Kerry campaign.
5) Illinois may shake up the presidential race a bit by moving its primary up a month to help favored son Barack Obama's nascent campaign.
6) Denver will be the site of the 2008 Democratic convention. Colorado is a key pick-up prospect for the Democrats, who have had great success electorally--picking up the governorship, the House of Representatives, Senate, and two GOP-held congressional seats. Additionally Democratic activist groups like Media Matters have been opening affiliates in the state. At stake in 2008: nine electoral votes. The Republicans, as previously announced, will be in Minneapolis to compete for Minnesota's 10 electoral votes.
7) In a move that many Party activists will hail as too little too late, Hillary Clinton is opposing President Bush's "surge" in Iraq. John McCain, meanwhile, has been pushing for the escalation. It's become clear in the last year that there's no easy answer for a presidential candidate in Iraq, but Hillary faces primaries in which her main potential opponent, Barack Obama, has opposed the war from the start, and McCain faces a situation where his main opponent, Romney, has never had to take a public vote on the war.
8) As for McCain's week? He received a much-needed distraction (and publicity) from Iraq by flipping the coin at the Florida-Ohio state national championship on Monday night—two states that are key to any successful 2008 campaign. But was the high stakes game worth it? The Arizona Republic, in its game notebook, reported, "Florida won the toss. And McCain lost Ohio in the future election. Yes, it happened that fast."
"8 on ’08" is a weekly Friday column that summarizes the eight biggest developments in the 2008 presidential race.