Monday, August 25, 2008

Moving Blogs

Vargas2040 is now "The Political Courier."

Click HERE to visit the new site!

Below please find the archives of my political coverage from March to August, 2007.

Highlights include:  

Unity, NH (the first joint campaign event for Clinton and Obama)
A GOP Primary Debate
The Oprah/Obama NH rally
—The Iowa Caucuses

         – Precinct 22
John McCain in Maine (with Senators Snowe and Collins)
Seeing Hillary in Indiana
—The Pennsylvania Primary
—Interviewing John Edwards
Summer BBQ and Rock & Roll with Mike Huckabee

—Meeting Dodd, Huckabee, Biden, McCain, Kucinich, Richardson, Romney, Gravel, Edwards, Duncan Hunter, Tancredo, Brownback, and Giuliani 

NH Schedule

I'm off for a few days in New Hampshire interviewing voters around the state to gauge Obama's support leading up to his convention acceptance on Thursday.

I am planning trips to Keane, Manchester, and Peterborough to survey young voters before attending a Manchester "convention watch party" on the 28th.

Not So Fast

I mobilized very quickly Sunday night to try and arrange airfare, hotels, rental cars for a last-minute trip to the DNC in Denver. Though I won't rule out the possibility of somehow ending up at Invesco Field on Thursday night, I'm holding off on the trip for now.


Because the main reason to travel out to Denver would be to "say I was there," and looking back, I've been fortunate enough to be able to say I was at a lot of the big moments of the '08 campaign already, and have had countless memorable experiences:

—Unity, NH
—A GOP Primary Debate
—The Oprah/Obama rallies
—The Iowa Caucuses
—Seeing Hillary in Indiana
—The Pennsylvania Primary
—Interviewing John Edwards
—Hearing Mike Huckabee play rock n' roll
—Meeting Dodd, Huckabee, Biden, McCain, Kucinich, Richardson, Romney, Gravel, Edwards, Duncan Hunter, Tancredo, Brownback, and Giuliani

I'm sure I could walk out of Denver with some good photos and stories, but the best stories from the election aren't always where everyone else is looking, and EVERYONE is staring straight at Denver this week.

Enjoy some good old Granite State political coverage the next few days!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Framing This Soon

An already great photo takes on some new importance.


Friday, August 22, 2008

Make it (99.9%) Official

There's a damn good chance Senator Joseph Biden will be the Vice President of the United States in January, 2009. 


Biden may have been one of a few great candidates on Obama's "shortlist," but there are precious few statesmen like Biden left in politics, and Obama is lucky to have him on the ticket.

...though we agree with the comment left by "Eli" (likely an Evan Bayh supporter) on NBC New's online forum:

Suffice to say Obama will not win Indiana now no matter how many offices he opens there.


If Andrea Mitchell is correct that Evan Bayh and Tim Kaine are out of contention for the VP spot, I have only one thing to say:


...which is not to say that I won the VP prediction contest by any means. Rather, that it pays off to see all the presidential candidates during the primary season and see who impresses you the most; if they're a downright impressive candidate and they don't end up winning the nomination, put them on VP watch...

Thursday, August 21, 2008

An Inspiring Vision for the Future

Even if it's an ad by a company that made its money "Killing the Electric Car" in the 1990's...

Cross your fingers for a future of electric, solar, fuel cell, etc. cars.

An awesome TV spot.

Good work, GM's advertising division.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

An Unimportant State?

Think again.

If you need another reason to pick Evan Bayh, it's because with Indiana switching back to Republican control in recent polls, the electoral map looks way too close for a "landslide" candidate like Obama who's supposed to turn all those red states into blue states.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

"Backstage with Barack": Some Darn Good Fundraising

It's a pretty simple concept.

If you give $5 or more to the Obama campaign, your name is entered into a drawing to spend some time with Obama before he goes on stage to accept the Democratic nomination.

Maybe I'm wrong, but it seems very unlikely that a politician about to give the biggest speech of his life would enjoy being bothered by ten strangers and their guests. Just think what would happen if the campaign actually randomly selected the winners and ended up with a bunch of ex-Hillary supporters that didn't really love Obama but wanted to give him a few bucks anyway to win in November.

Not very good publicity there, right?

I can't say I'm at all surprised by the ten guests that will be with Obama in Denver (the list was released yesterday). Here are some good ones:

A teacher from a small Montana farming village.

An evangelical grandfather and ex-MIKE HUCKABEE supporter from a swing state.

A female college student from Alaska who is "interviewing native elders about their experiences with segregation" for summer break.

And Trinance, "a single mother and disabled veteran who served overseas for the Iraq War."

My apologies to the many thousands who donated money hoping to win and were instead overlooked as the Obama campaign hunted for some "lucky winners" with relevant and juicy stories. the Obama campaign laughs all the way to the bank...

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Obama in Europe: Nowhere to Hide

Ignoring how effective the Obama campaign's voter registration drive is, it's starting to be a wee bit irritating.

Yes, those are Obama signs at Rome's Piazza Navona.

"Americans in Italy for Obama" are some nice folks, and registration drives for Americans Abroad in Europe says a lot about the strength of Obama's worldwide strength.

Really. Impressive.

...even if vacations better without campaign '08 sneaking in...

Friday, August 15, 2008


It's hasta luego to Barcelona as I begin my return to the U.S. after quite a long and lovely time in Europe.

Rest assured I have been keeping up with polls and the latest election news to avoid any surprises when I open up the papers back home.

P.S. Will John and Elizabeth Edwards still appear together in September at the speech they were supposed to give (and I had been planning to attend)?!?

Saturday, August 9, 2008


I remember lingering around a half-empty ballroom at a Des Moines hotel this past January after John Edwards left the stage and many of his supporters had filed out of the room. It was obvious that Edwards' second place finish would damage his chances of winning future states and becoming the Democratic nominee, but I felt like I had witnessed an amazing moment in election history. For someone who's listened to every candidate's stump speech numerous times, I felt like Edwards had broken from the mold and was speaking fromt the heart.

As the Democratic field narrowed down to Obama, Clinton, and Edwards through January, it seemed only a matter of time before Edwards would have to drop out, but I still loved seeing him on debate stages and delivering his talking points on television. Up until yesterday I wished Edwards had been the nominee instead of Obama; I thought he had a better chance of winning this November.

Now, after meeting Edwards twice (once privately for an interview), publicly voicing my support for him, and arguing on his behalf to friends and colleagues, I can't help but feel outraged that Edwards would hide such important information for so long.

As every Democrat is aware, the most important criteria in choosing a nominee for the party this year is electability--finding someone who can beat John McCain and put a Democrat back in the White House. That a major presidential candidate would withold a scandal (while maintaining innocence and touting his amazing family values) that would have destroyed his campaign and elected John McCain overnight, shows John Edwards' true motives: being elected President was more important for him than having a Democrat elected in 2008.

I (still) love Edwards' 2004 and 2008 political platforms, but he will never be the same in my eyes.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

A Conversation Between Barack and Michelle

Back in 2006 I bought a "Bayh 2008" button on I wore the button around, put up an Evan Bayh picture as the background on my laptop, and tried to get people to ask for more information about him.

I dug through his Senate homepage and soon was able to list his accomplishments for the state of Indiana in conversation. Though Bayh ended his campaign long before many other candidates officially announced their own, Bayh's record, lasting popularity as a Democrat in Indiana (then considered deeply Republican), and the son of the remarkable Birch Bayh, made it impossible for me to forget his name and prospects for an executive position in the future.

Fast forward to April, 2008 and I'm crouching down 5 feet in front of Evan Bayh to take photos of him and Hillary Clinton and a campaign stop in Valparaiso, Indiana. I finally felt like the perfect Democratic presidential ticket had descended down right in front of me.

Hillary Clinton may be out of the picture now, but Bayh certainly isn't as a prospective Vice-President for Barack Obama.

Bayh and Virginia Governor Tim Kaine look to be the top contenders in this year's "veepstates," especially as the two campaigned with Barack and Michelle respectively yesterday and today.

Just imagine the conversation Michelle Obama will have with Barack over the next few days. Each will share their experiences about the two candidates and, together with their advisors, work towards an official decision.

As one of the most exciting events of a presidential election--not only because it serves as a candidate's "first Presidential decision," but because 90% of each party's voters have to deal with another high-profile politician until the election whether they like them or not--I would love to hear what Barack and Michelle have to say about Evan Bayh and Tim Kaine.

...and hopefully they like Evan the most...

Monday, August 4, 2008

Getting Past the Euro

Once you get past the terrible exchange rate, Europe is still tremendously exciting to travel through.

Menton, Venice, and now Florence; from the French waterfront to the art capitol of the world.

No political posts from me for now, but I have a guest post lined up for next week.

Monday, July 28, 2008

A Two Week Break

I am about to depart on a two week vacation overseas and let news of the U.S. election trickle over to me by way of foreign newspapers and café conversations.

Expect a few photos over the next 16 days or so, but VERY infrequent postings.

Au revoir!

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Two Weeks...

...til I can rock out to this in Barcelona...

Bring it on.

Friday, July 25, 2008

CNN Piles it On

After Obama left the stage in Berlin, CNN aired the following segments as their "equal time" of coverage for McCain:

1) Mitt Romney's ex-communication's guy getting ripped to shreds by two angry Obama supporters as Ben Stein tries to chirp in and defend McCain.

2) McCain holds a press conference about foreign policy in front of deli cheeses.

Panoramic Experimenting

Click to enlarge.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Where McCain Can (and is) Going Wrong

How will history remember Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign?

To start, a lot of people didn't start appreciating her until she had practically lost the nomination to Barack Obama.

Though Clinton came across as "cold" and "impersonal," she could give a great speech, bring a crowd to its feet, handle a tough question, and make meaningful connections with those around her. Under the shadow of Obama, however, none of that seemed to matter. To the media and a large group of Democrats, Hillary was merely playing an old type of politics—one that went after Obama and didn't always play nice.

As an ex-Clinton supporter and (though not as a result of Clinton's defeat) a proud fan of John McCain, I see his campaign slowly falling into the traps that sealed Hillary's fate.

For one, McCain's campaign never seems to bring a story or issue to the media or change the dialogue of the campaign. Instead, McCain spends his time in the public spotlight giving good speeches about things that don't surprise us. I could have predicted McCain would talk about his two favorite issues—energy independence and Iraq—in Portland, ME on Monday, much the same way it was no surprise Hillary Clinton gave a very obvious speech about rebuilding America's infrastructure after the Minneapolis bridge collapse last August.

The thing is, both speeches were extremely intelligent, effective, and well-received, but they were delivered in front of small audiences at times when they'd attract little attention. That sounds like where McCain's finding himself right now.

When he should be focusing on creating publicity around his own campaign, McCain has spent most of his time going after Obama. Whether it's criticizing his foreign policy experience, his "anti-troops" remarks, or the media's love affair with him (though this actually does exist), McCain and the GOP are all about Obama. Check out the RNC's homepage this morning:

In 2000 and 2004 the Republicans always seemed to be on message and didn't resort to these silly little jokes about their Democratic opponenets; their attacks used to be mean, serious, and effective. Now, the RNC homepage is little more than a parody of itself.

During his speech in Portland on Monday, McCain repeatedly brought up Barack Obama—how he should of condemned's "General Betray-us" ad and that he lacked judgment in not supporting the surge in Iraq. Meanwhile, Obama travels the world speaking to presidents and diplomats about issues "larger" than partisan politics.

Whether or not Obama really does transcend party politics is up in the air, but McCain would be wise to get off Obama's case for a while and make a case of his own.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Little More Than "On Message"

PORTLAND, ME. John McCain;s "public event" in Portland yesterday was unlike any campaign stop I've covered. Part red and white checkered picnic tables and part jacket and tie affair, I was expecting to find a more sober scene outside the Maine Military Museum. It's common knowledge that the McCain campaign has been looking for ways of taking the media attention off of Barack Obama's trip to the Europe and the Middle East, but I was expecting a more spirited attempt from his schedulers.

To start, visiting Maine was an interesting choice by McCain. Though McCain could pass off the appearance as an opportunity to throw his weight behind Maine's freshman Senator, Susan Collins, who is up for re-election this year, she already leads her Democratic opponent up to 25% in recent polls. John McCain also faces a steep uphill battle in Maine against Barack Obama; the state has voted Democratic in five consecutive presidential elections, and that trend seems unlikely to change in a year Obama is making inroads in a handful of traditional Republican strongholds.

The McCain campaign likely chose the Maine Military Museum to surround their candidate with veterans and an audience that respects McCain's foreign policy credentials. McCain didn't hesitate to draw distinctions between McCain's military experience and Obama's perceived inexperience and decision to travel abroad to improve his international reputation.

"I'd rather be here at the Maine Military Museum than anywhere else in the world," McCain opened his remarks. Focusing on two issues of national security—America's dependence on foreign oil and the War on Terror—McCain worked to show that Obama's stances on critical issues fail to take into consideration larger policy implications.

Finally, after asking the veterans in the crowd to identify themselves (about one in four raised their hands), McCain vocalized his support for the current strategy in Iraq and General David Petraeus. Obama, McCain said, refused to condemn's "General Betray-us" advertisement last year. The crowd booed Obama and cheered for McCain, but it was far from the rousing moment McCain would need to overshadow Obama.

McCain is the more experienced candidate, especially on issue of national security and foreign policy, but he'll need more than patriotic picnics and friendly crowds to chip away at Obama's momentum.