Monday, March 21, 2005

Feingold in the News(papers)

No really big news, but items of interest from two different newspapers.

First, the Birmingham News reports on Senator Feingold's return to Alabama. He'll be taking a three day trip down there during Congress' spring break, starting March 28.

The whole article is here, here's a couple of key paragraphs:

WASHINGTON - U.S. Sen. Russell Feingold's fence-mending trip to Butler County has turned into a three-day, multi-city jaunt through Alabama by a potential Democratic candidate for president.

Feingold, a third-term senator from Wisconsin, will be in Greenville on March 28 as the guest of the mayor, who wants to acquaint the senator with the town's finer parts. Mayor Dexter McLendon believes Feingold missed those parts on his last golf outing, at least judging by an article he later wrote that offended people in the city.

While he's in the state, Feingold also has tacked on a couple of days to visit Montgomery and Birmingham, meet with residents and learn about the state's history.

It's an excursion by a high-profile Democrat, known nationally for his work on campaign finance reform, into a region where Democrats admit they've lost ground.

"He is looking forward to the opportunity to learn more about the people of Alabama and to hear what they have to say about how people like him can do a better job reaching out to places like Alabama," said George Aldrich, who managed Feingold's last Senate campaign and is coordinating the Alabama trip. Congress is on spring break.
So far there are sessions scheduled with community activists, local Democrats, business groups, religious leaders, elected officials and even a session at UAB dedicated to health care. There will be a news conference, a trolley tour of historic Montgomery, and a meeting with leaders at the Southern Poverty Law Center.

The format will be similar to "listening sessions" Feingold has in each of Wisconsin's 72 counties every year, and there will be no fund-raising, Aldrich said.

Wait a a potential presidential candidate allowed to have a trip where there's no fundraising? That seems wrong to me...

But seriously, it seems like the Senator has some good events scheduled and I hope this trip is beneficial for Senator Feingold, the Democratic Party, and the people of Alabama. I'll write more about it after it's actually happened.

The other item is from a newspaper from well north of Alabama, the Chicago Tribune had a commentary by Sanford D. Horwitt promoting the presidential chances of Senator Feingold. I'll link to a MyDD diary that posts the whole story, as the Tribune requires registration to see it on their site.
Here's the beginning of the piece:

Edwards? Clinton? Nah, 2008 could be Russ Feingold's year
Sanford D. Horwitt
Published March 20, 2005

The race for the 2008 Democratic Party presidential nomination is already being handicapped and, according to one offshore gaming Web site, the front-runners are former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards at 3-2 and New York Sen. Hillary Clinton at 5-2.

But if I were a betting man, I'd consider putting some dough on a 16-1 shot, Wisconsin Sen. Russ Feingold.

Largely overlooked by national political pundits in the aftermath of the November election was the impressive re-election victory by the John McCain of the Democratic Party. As usual, Feingold campaigned as a straight-talking, risk-taking reformer, and his convincing victory should make him highly appealing to Democrats longing for somebody who not only has a winning track record, but who unabashedly stands for progressive Democratic Party values. This is no wimpy liberal who trims his message to fit supposedly conservative times.

In Wisconsin, while John Kerry barely eked out a win in one of the most hotly contested battleground states, voters were giving Feingold a near-landslide victory, electing him to a third term with 55 percent of the vote. Unlike Kerry, who tried to play it safe from start to finish, Feingold won big after voting against the Iraq war and Bush's tax cuts, and having cast the lone vote in the Senate against the Patriot Act.

Feingold carried a mix of rural and small-town counties in the northern deer-hunting country, old Mississippi River communities on the western border and the urban centers of Milwaukee and Madison.

Exit polls also showed Feingold scoring heavily among voters who believed that the most important quality of a candidate was the ability to bring about change.

What Feingold is proving in the politically critical heartland is that there is a market for the old-fashioned politics of reform.

I think this is a really good column for getting Senator Feingold's name out there more, and I think it's good that it's in such a major paper as the Tribune. Later on in the column it quotes Senator Feingold speaking at some of his listening sessions in small towns in Wisconsin, which I think does a good job of refuting two of the commonly accepted stereotypes about politicians which could be used as arguments against Feingold in the primaries: the first being that Senators can't communicate with people well, and the second that only Republicans or Southern Democrats can communicate with small town and rural voters.

Senator Feingold is very good at communicating his message to the voters, including small town and rural voters, and the more we can get that information out about him, the less vulnerable the Senator will be to those typical concerns about nominating a northern senator.



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