Election 2008

Alex Brandon/AP
Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee

Pivotal Political Moments from 2008

November 04, 2008 01:55 PM
by Isabel Cowles
FindingDulcinea looks at some of the most memorable moments from the presidential primaries, as well as House and Senate races.

Primary and State-Wide Election Highlights

Few presidential campaigns are as historic as the 2008 race has been: above and beyond the pioneering candidates themselves—Obama would be the first black president and McCain would be the oldest man elected to a first term in the Oval Office—a series of memorable events have marked this long political season during both the presidential primaries and the Congressional and Senatorial races.

Pivotal Primary Moments

On Jan. 3, pundits, pollsters and voters were stunned when former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee defeated his Republican rivals in the Iowa primaries, walking away with the support of 34 percent of voters, compared to 25 percent for Romney, 13 percent for Fred Thompson and John McCain, and 10 percent for Ron Paul. Huckabee owed the victory to evangelical and female voters; he went on to outlast all of the other Republican candidates, before finally ceding the race to John McCain on March 4.

In February, after an enduring battle against Illinois Senator Barack Obama, New York Senator Hillary Clinton, known for her toughness, began tearing up at a campaign stop in front of supporters and media. Many voters were surprised that Clinton would exhibit such emotion, and critics doubted the sincerity of the display, accusing the candidate of trying to appeal to the pivotal female demographic by showing a softer, more emotional side.
In early August, a few months after withdrawing from the Democratic race, North Carolina Senator John Edwards admitted to having an extramarital affair with 42-year-old campaign employee Rielle Hunter. Edwards told ABC’s Bob Woodruff that he was lying when he denied the affair during the campaign, but maintained that he was not the father of Hunter’s child, who was born Feb. 27, 2008. Edwards also vehemently repudiated allegations that he had paid Hunter hush money to keep the birth under wraps.

Big News on the Bicameral Front

As dramatic as the primaries proved to be, statewide politics have also kept the American electorate at the edge of its seat.

On Aug. 6, Representative Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick of Michigan won her Congressional primary, despite the scandal swirling around her son, Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, who was charged with and eventually pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice. Although Mrs. Kilpatrick initially appeared to be losing the race, she ultimately won the primary by 1,700 votes.  “[Mrs. Kilpatrick] and Kwame have two different jobs, different demands,” said voter Vincent Jones, 43, of Detroit. “Clearly, voters were able to separate mother from son.”

Stephanie Tubbs Jones, the first black woman elected to represent Ohio in the House of Representatives, died on Aug. 20 at age 58. Tubbs Jones, an Ohio Democrat, was serving her fifth term as representative of the 11th Congressional District, which includes parts of Cleveland. She was reelected to the House in 2006, winning 83 percent of the vote, and was widely regarded as a leading advocate against predatory lending. Tubbs Jones had also worked consistently to broaden health care coverage for low- and middle-income citizens and opposed supplemental funding for the Iraq war.

On Oct. 27, Sen. Ted Stevens, who has represented Alaska for 40 of its 49 years of statehood, was charged with seven counts of lying about Senate disclosure forms as he failed to report more than $250,000 in personal amenities and gifts. Despite being found guilty, Stevens maintains his innocence, and plans to run for reelection. In a written statement, Stevens asserted, “This verdict is the result of the unconscionable manner in which the Justice Department lawyers conducted this trial. I ask that Alaskans and my Senate colleagues stand with me as I pursue my rights. I remain a candidate for the United States Senate.”

Opinion & Analysis: The 2008 election

The New York Times has a series of articles on some of the "unnoticed moments" from the primary and election season. Topics include "What primary or caucus clinched the Democratic nomination for Barack Obama?" and "How did John Edwards frame the campaign?"

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