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The Political Gamble that Paid Off Big!

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(Reno, Nevada)

I'm in Reno on business, the "biggest little city in the world."

It certainly proved to be one of the "biggest little cities" in the political world last year. Let's face it! Barack Obama gambled big in 2008, believing he could win in traditionally Republican Presidential states.

When Obama said he would run a fifty-state race, even many Democrats scoffed privately. After all, when you compete in one state, you are taking dollars and staff away from working in other states. You risk losing some of your base.

Obama rolled the dice big, campaigning hard here. He made four visits to the University of Nevada-Reno, according to Dean Jerry Ceppos from the Reynolds School of Journalism, with whom I met today.

Obama made similar gambles in Florida, North Carolina, Virginia, Indiana, Colorado and New Mexico. All traditionally lean to the GOP. It was a clean sweep. Obama didn't win just some of them, he won them all.

Nevada was a bellwether in some regards. Democratic volunteers from neighboring California poured in to help rally their troops here. Ringing door bells and getting out the vote is labor intensive.

When I was in Las Vegas for the Nevada Caucuses in January, 2008, people here in both parties were excited that the national media finally was paying attention. They said the election needed to be about more than just Iowa and New Hampshire.

"It's amazing to me that you are even here," said Rick, the bartender at the Stratosphere Casino, as I sipped wine at his bar and played video poker. "In the past, the political parties and the press didn't care about us," he told me. "We didn't matter."

But 2008 was a year of change, especially tossing out old and outdated strategies that had failed the Democrats in the past. Obama took a big gamble and won big!

I write a lot about how Nevada affected the race in my new book, "Age of Obama: A Reporter's Journey with Clinton, McCain and Obama in the Making of the President 2008."

You can buy my book by clicking on the blue book button, on the right side of this screen.

California, Here They Come!

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(Danville, California)

One of the most interesting questions I’ve had on my mini-book tour is about the next exciting political race. No, not the Presidential race in 2012, but the race for California Governor next year.

As I have been telling people, the race for Governor could be very similar to the 2008 Presidential campaign. With no incumbent or heir apparent on either side, this race is wide open for both parties. Expect a lot of bona fide candidates from each side.

Today, former eBay CEO Meg Whitman entered the fray. Whitman, who is 52, launched an exploratory committee to look at a Republican run for Governor. She is a billionaire with a formidable business background. While she has never held elective office, she was involved in Mitt Romney’s campaign for President and then joined John McCain when he became the GOP nominee.

An article in the San Jose "Mercury-News" quotes a statement issued by Whitman. "California faces challenges unlike any other time in its history — a weak and faltering economy, massive job losses, and an exploding state budget deficit," Whitman said in announcing that she has formed an exploratory committee. "California is better than this, and I refuse to stand by and watch it fail."

Former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina is a possible Republican contender, too. Ditto for Republican State Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner.

The Mercury-News also reported a volley fired by the Democratic State Party Chairman, Art Torres: "Unlike with eBay, there's no 'Buy It Now' button for winning the governor's race," said Torres in a statement responding to Whitman's announcement. Ouch! This could get ugly.

The Democrats could have a crowded slate, too, possibly including: Senator Diane Feinstein; Attorney General (and former Governor) Jerry Brown; San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom; Lt. Governor John Garamendi; Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa; and former Comptroller Steve Wesley.

California has the world’s fifth largest economy. One in eight Americans lives here. It’s almost a country in and of itself. Whoever becomes Governor is a "big deal."

As I said, this could be as exciting as Campaign 2008--speaking of which, my book, “Age of Obama: A Reporter’s Journey with Clinton, McCain and Obama in the Making of the President 2008,” is for sale, by clicking on the blue book button on the right side of this screen.

I will be signing books and giving a lecture at “Book Passage” in San Francisco’s Ferry Building next Monday night, February 16, at 6 p.m. That is Presidents’ Day!

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