Kennedys endorse Obama; Latest on Mt. Vernon officer's death

Behind The News
January 28, 2008 1:04:47 PM PST
It's not an easy argument to make that you are the counter-Washington agent of change, and then parade out the best known members of the Kennedy family to endorse you. I'm just sayin'.

But that's what Barack Obama did today. Caroline Kennedy and Ted Kennedy, the daughter and brother of the slain President, appearing with the Senator from Illinois today at American University.

It's an emotional endorsement, to be sure, and the comparisons -- made often -- to Pres. Kennedy will go far in cementing support from many people, especially among the young.

But Ted Kennedy isn't exactly the beacon of conciliatory politics, as Obama insists he himself is. We'll see if the endorsement does anything about the "crossover" vote, which no would-be President can get elected without.

It certainly is a blow to Hillary Clinton; hard to read it any other way than that. But Sen. Clinton, and her husband, are indeed tough campaigners. And it is hard to imagine that they're throwing up their hands in resignation over the Kennedy endorsements.

That said, there is tonight something of an Obama express rolling down the track.

On the Republican side, there's hardly an express train with Rudy Giuliani on it. The latest polls show him running third at best in Florida, the state he has concentrated on and insisted he needs to win. Will he drop out if he doesn't win? We'll see after tomorrow's primary.

There's another fascinating twist to all this, raised by Gail Collins in the New York Times this weekend. After using - some say exploiting - the Sept. 11 attacks to serve as the basis of his campaign for President, Giuliani gave up his lucrative business, at least temporarily. And after speaking for free for all these months, can he return to the days when companies pay him tens of thousands of dollars to speak? Again, we'll see.

We'll have the latest from the campaign trails, tonight at 11.

And how interesting that all this campaigning is making the headlines, and so little attention is directed at President Bush's final State of the Union address tonight.

Mr. Bush's approval rating as he prepares for his speech is the lowest of any President at this point in his tenure, with the exception of Richard Nixon, and we know what happened to him.

So how much anticipation is there for tonight's speech? Is there any? The White House clearly doesn't think so; Administration officials are downplaying any expectations, and admit there will be no bold initiatives proposed.

Too bad -- it's not like the President is going to go on vacation these last 12 months. Is he? Can you imagine if you were President -- what would you do in your last year in office?

That will be our question of the day: what would you do if you had a year in the White House -- even assuming it's your eighth year and the economy is on the verge of a big slump and the war in Iraq arguably turned out to be something less than the military and the White House envisioned.

Send your thoughts, and whether we can use your name, to Bill.S.Ritter@ABC.Com.

Our Jeff Pegues is in Washington to cover the Presidents speech, tonight at 11.

Also at 11, we're on the story about that off-duty Mt. Vernon cop, shot and killed by Westchester County officers. A tragedy unfolded as we were on the air Friday -- apparently starting with some kind of altercation that included gun shots. An off-duty officer tried to break it up, he pulled his gun and was pointing it toward the men when other, on-duty officers rushed in. They saw Officer Christopher Ridley, out of uniform, with his gun drawn. They ordered him to drop his weapon. Instead, he turned around, with gun in hand. Did he not hear them? Did the officers see only a black man with a gun after hearing shots fired? Did he identify himself as an officer? We just don't know.

Yet.

At the minimum, this is simply a horrible incident. Whether it's more than that - -well, that's the story.

We'll also have any breaking news of the night, plus Lee Goldberg's AccuWeather forecast, and Scott Clark with the night's sports, reporting this week from Arizona and the Giants' Super Bowl chances.

I hope you can join Liz Cho and me, tonight at 11.

BILL RITTER


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