John Harwood is chief Washington correspondent for CNBC and a political writer for The New York Times. He writes the weekly column "Political Memo" for the paper.
Harwood was born in Louisville, Ky., and grew up in the Maryland suburbs outside of the nation's capital. He has been around journalism and politics all his life; his first trip on a presidential campaign press plane came when he was 11 years old and accompanied his father, then a political reporter for The Washington Post.
While still in high school, he began his journalism career as a copy boy at The Washington Star. He studied history and economics at Duke University and graduated magna cum laude in 1978. Harwood subsequently joined The St. Petersburg Times, reporting on police, investigative projects, local government and politics. Later he became state capital correspondent in Tallahassee, Washington correspondent and political editor. While covering national politics, he also traveled extensively to South Africa, where he covered deepening unrest against the apartheid regime.
In 1989, Harwood was named a Nieman Fellow at Harvard University, where he spent the 1989-90 academic year. In 1991, he joined The Wall Street Journal as White House correspondent, covering the administration of the George H. W. Bush. Later Harwood reported on Congress. In 1997, he became The Wall Street Journal's Political Editor and chief political correspondent.
While at The Wall Street Journal, Harwood wrote the newspaper's political column, "Washington Wire," and oversaw the Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll. In March 2006, he joined CNBC as chief Washington correspondent.
In addition to CNBC, Harwood offers political analysis on NBC's "Meet the Press" and PBS' "Washington Week in Review," among other television and radio programs. Harwood has covered each of the last five presidential elections.
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I am sitting in my hotel room in downtown Des Moines, looking out the windows at the reasons why no one can count out the chances of Mitt Romney or John Edwards in the Iowa caucuses next month: Snow and ice--lots of it.
I can't help noticing the dramatic difference between the political and government parts of my beat these days--complete gridlock in Washington and turbulent action on the 2008 campaign trail. In the capital, Democrats and Republicans are fighting over literally everything--the budget, energy legislation, a fix for the out of control Alternative Minimum Tax.
What does gridlock in Washington mean, to business and to everyone else? It means avoiding the sacred cows of both parties even if that waters down whatever action government takes. It means least-common-denominator solutions--or half-solutions--to whatever problem is on the table at the time.
Today we saw a fine display of presidential leadership on an economic problem--the kind we would have expected from President Bill Clinton, not President George W. Bush. Yes, the administration is avoiding the "b" word, as in "bailout." And yes, in theory the new mortgage terms for homeowners facing upward resets represent a "voluntary" agreement by their creditors.
While political reporters like me are largely focused on the 2008 presidential race, our dysfunctional governmental apparatus in Washington continues laboring, however haltingly, in search of some tangible accomplishments. And some of them would have significant impact on Wall Street and the business community more broadly.
A fresh round of polls has underscored the sense of flux in the 2008 presidential race--in both parties. A Washington Post-ABC News poll of Iowa Democrats shows a three-way race for the Jan 3 caucuses--but with Barack Obama, not Hillary Clinton, in the lead.
Before the campaign is done, the TV ads will run the full range from nutty to nasty and tens of millions of Americans will battleground states will see them. But for now, candidate commercials are largely confined to Iowa and New Hampshire television screens. And they are having an impact.
GOP debate results: Winner #1: former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee. He displayed his trademark humor but also some grit, facing down Mitt Romney in defending his record on immigration. Huckabee is head and shoulders above the rest of the Republican field in communications skills, as he manages to convey a combination of conservative principles.
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