Political Capital with John Harwood

  Monday, 17 Nov 2008 | 2:00 PM ET

Obama's Transition To President May Be "Easiest" Part

Posted By: John Harwood
President-elect Barack Obama
President-elect Barack Obama

As President-elect Barack Obama rushes from secret job interviews with ex-primary rivals, to briefings on the global financial crisis, to discussions of saving the U.S. auto industry, the post-election period may feel frenetic.

But soon he and his transition team may look back fondly on this fleeting chance for "deliberate haste," as Obama has characterized pace of his Cabinet selection. Later it will be all haste.

This fall running mate Joe Biden warned the incoming president would be tested within six months by an international crisis. But history shows the incoming rush of trouble doesn't wait for hours, much less months.

Bill Clinton fought controversy even before his inauguration for giving welfare reform a lower priority than health care—a decision whose political consequences Mr. Clinton would later regret.

On Clinton's first full day in office his Defense Secretary was ripped by the Joint Chiefs of Staff over his campaign pledge to let gays serve openly in the military. On his second full day, he accepted the withdrawal of his choice for Attorney General Zoe Baird over revelations that she had employed an illegal immigrant.

Within two months, Jimmy Carter soured his relations with a Democratic-controlled Congress by targeting water projects cherished by senior figures within his own party.

Within three months, Ronald Reagan was shot in an assassination attempt. John F Kennedy launched the Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba, President George W. Bush faced a showdown with Beijing over a collision between a U.S. spy plane and a Chinese fighter jet.

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  Wednesday, 1 Oct 2008 | 1:45 PM ET

The Bailout Bill Battle On Capital Hill

Posted By: John Harwood

Here are my latest video clips on the bailout bill.

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  Friday, 19 Sep 2008 | 4:07 PM ET

If Wall Street "Recovers" Does That Help McCain?

Posted By: John Harwood

You can tell the American political community is genuinely shaken by the sight of officials in both parties, from the Bush administration and the Democratic Congress, standing side by side and promising to work together--fast.

It happened after 9/11, and again last night when Washington decided that only government intervention could halt the spreading crisis within the us financial system.

That crisis has already tilted the landscape of the 2008 presidential race in Barack Obama's favor. The question now is whether initial signs of recovery on Wall Street will ease pressure on John McCain.

Throughout the week Obama has moved to capitalize on mounting economic anxiety, sharpening his arguments for change after eight years of Republican control of the white house.

A range of polls have shown him moving slightly ahead of John McCain, after trailing slightly last week.

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  Monday, 15 Sep 2008 | 3:59 PM ET

Wall Street Crisis: Which Candidate "Benefits"?

Posted By: John Harwood

For the past year the ongoing crisis in the housing and credit markets has set a gloomy backdrop for the 2008 presidential race, fueling voters' anxieties about the economy and desire for change.

Now the meltdown on Wall Street threatens to deepen those anxieties--and provide john McCain and Barack Obama with the campaign equivalent of what Hillary Clinton once described as the 3 am phone call that presidents receive.

It’s not yet clear who might benefit, but increased attention to economic troubles more closely fits Obama's campaign strategy.

As the democratic candidate seeking to replace on unpopular Republican president, Obama has always been better positioned than McCain to capitalize on desire for change. And with voters calling the economy their top priority, Obama has made the issue his central theme.

But by choosing Sarah Palin as his running mate, John McCain managed to shift attention back to cultural issues over the past two week. And that helped him rise in the polls.

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  Monday, 15 Sep 2008 | 3:19 PM ET

Obama, McCain Turn Sights To Wall Street "Clean-Up"

Posted By: John Harwood

The crisis on Wall Street has suddenly shifted the focus of the 2008 presidential race.

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  Monday, 15 Sep 2008 | 11:24 AM ET

Wall Street Fallout: The Political Reaction

Posted By: John Harwood
Political Reaction
Presidential candidates Barack Obama and John McCain react to the financial fallouts, with CNBC's John Harwood

Presidential candidates Barack Obama and John McCain react to the financial fallouts.

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  Friday, 12 Sep 2008 | 9:31 AM ET

Obama, McCain Back In ""Business"

Posted By: John Harwood
Candidates Back to Business
Presidential candidates John McCain and Barack Obama get back on the campaigns after appearing together in NY yesterday, with CNBC's John Harwood

Presidential candidates John McCain and Barack Obama get back on the campaigns after appearing together in NY yesterday.

    • Republican Palin seeks to defend qualifications

Questions? Comments? Write to politicalcapital@cnbc.com .

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  Wednesday, 10 Sep 2008 | 9:19 AM ET

McCain Gains On Obama: WSJ/NBC Poll

Posted By: John Harwood

The latest NBC-Wall Street Journal poll shows the Republican Presidential nominee and Barack Obama in a dead heat. Here's my video report from today.

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  Wednesday, 27 Aug 2008 | 5:50 PM ET

Democratic Convention: Three Headlines -- and Questions

Posted By: John Harwood

Three headlines from the Democratic convention Wednesday:

One is the search for unity. Tuesday night, Hillary Clinton pleased Team Obama by telling her supporters that helping Obama win in November is a matter of conscience.

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  Tuesday, 26 Aug 2008 | 2:18 PM ET

Obama Family: Crucial Symbol in Dem Convention

Posted By: John Harwood

There were two emotional centerpieces in the first night of the Democratic National Convention.

And another big one comes tonight -- with big consequences for the success of the DNC gathering in Denver.

The most dramatic moment Monday night came with the rousing speech by Sen. Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts, who traveled here despite suffering from brain cancer.

That galvanized delegates, for whom the Kennedy name still represents the gold standard in Democratic politics. And it helped Barack Obama, by shifting attention away from the backstage drama between his allies and those of Hillary Clinton, and toward the party's enduring ideals.

But perhaps more important for Obama was the speech by his wife Michelle. Her task was make to swing voters -- especially whites with some reservations about supporting the first African-American nominee -- more comfortable with the idea that Obama understands their lives and shares their values.

She did it by invoking the special moments that so many families can relate to: the birth of a child, the illness of a parent, the whispered nighttime conversations between siblings, the excitement of Christmas morning.

Obama himself, appearing live on video with a white family from Missouri, punctuated the point by exchanging "I love you's" with his young daughters, after they joined their mother on stage.

By praising Hillary Clinton, Michelle Obama also took a first step in the campaign's attempt to unite the party more fully. Tonight, the attention shifts to Hillary Clinton and how effectively her prime-time speech calls on supporters to rally around Obama -- and surrender their lingering sense of grievance over her primary defeat.

Questions? Comments? Write to politicalcapital@cnbc.com .

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