Nick Ragone is an author, attorney and public relations executive in New York City. He earned a bachelor’s degree in history and political science from Rutgers University, and is a graduate of the Eagleton Institute of Political Science at Rutgers University (undergraduate) and the Georgetown University Law Center.

He is the author of three books: Essential American Government, Everything American Government, and President's Most Wanted. Nick is a regular contributor to the Fox News Channel and Fox Business, the PIX11 Morning Show, and has a weekly appearance on the popular Raph Bailey Radio Show.  He co-anchored PIX11's five-hour live inauguration coverage with Jim Watkins and Kaity Tong.

Nick is a contributor to Donklephant.com, one of the most influential political blogs on the web, and  has written for US News & World Report, The Star-Ledger, Real Simple Magazine and RealSimple.com.  Nick has been quoted in over two dozen stories on politics, the presidency, and public relations.  In December of 2007, Nick was named one of PR Week's 40 under 40 to watch, and in May of 2008 was featured in "Profiles of Success", a book about public relations. Nick lives in Jersey City, NJ, with his wife and two children, and spends what little free time he has obsessing on the Mets.

Nick can also be found on Facebook. http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=740817853




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The New York Observer reports that while campaigning on behalf of Hillary Clinton, feminist icon Gloria Steinem had this to say about John McCain:                                                        16rally_ap.jpg

“Suppose John McCain had been Joan McCain and Joan McCain had got captured, shot down and been a POW for eight years. [The media would ask], ‘What did you do wrong to get captured? What terrible things did you do while you were there as a captive for eight years?’”

And that's not even the money quote. The Observer article notes that "referring to his time in captivity, Steinem said with bewilderment, 'I mean, hello? This is supposed to be a qualification to be President? I don't think so.'"

A couple of points. First, you'd think the Clinton campaign – after all the issues with Bill wandering off the message reservation – would have learned its lesson about reigning in their surrogates. Well, evidentially not. Second, this quote is going to follow them like an albatross should Hillary somehow manage to win the nomination. Rest assured, McCain's camp is going to feed this quote to the conservative base that it so desperately needs to galvanize; heck, the ad practically writes itself.


Video: Fox and Friends 3-1-08

Nick talking about campaign slogans on Fox and Friends 3-1-08

The Obama-Reagan comparison

Washington Post columnist EJ Dione has a terrific piece comparing Obama to Reagan. Not on ideology – they couldn’t be more different – or even speaking styles:  Obama is inspirational and 529zge32.jpgReagan more lyrical.

It’s about how their opponents approached them. The Carter campaign thought it would have an easy time defeating a thin-resume reactionary like Reagan; that the country would reject a warmed-over Goldwater for an experienced leader. What it didn’t understand is that the country was ready for a new trajectory, and that Reagan offered a clear and hopeful vision for America.

Same thing here. The Clinton camp thinks that Hillary’s experience and resume trumps Obama (which it does), but misses the larger point: The Democratic party is ready for a new trajectory for their party and the country, and Obama speaks to their better angels. That doesn’t mean the general election is a foregone conclusion – far from it. But it does suggest that Obama – like Reagan – is a transformative candidate, and that this could be a “pivot” election where the nation changes course. Obama postulated as much in Nevada and was savaged by Bill Clinton for it, but my guess is that we’ll hear it again during the general election.


McCain to Hillary: Please win Ohio!

My law school friend and music mogul Randy brings up an interesting point: When was the last time a candidate was running a general election campaign while his opponents were still mccain6km.jpgwrestling for their nomination.  Of course, it happens virtually every time an incumbent seeks reelection, but much less frequently during an “open” year. You have to go back to 1968, when Nixon sowed up the nomination early while the Democrats suffered through a divisive convention before settling on Humphrey.

As it stands now, John McCain is running a general election campaign. He’s taking shots at both Democrats over NAFTA, taxes, and the surge, and has specifically gone after Obama on his lack of experience. McCain is leaving little guess work as to his fall strategy: the surge and the economy. On the Iraq surge, his case will be straightforward: do we cut and run and leave the country in ruins, or continue with a strategy that is yielding measurable success. On the economy, he will frame the issue around taxes: do we raise taxes while on the brink of (or in) recession, or continue with a pro-growth agenda.

One thing is for certain: John McCain will be pulling for Hillary Clinton to win either Ohio or Texas, and hopefully stay in the race.  He’d love to see the Democrats battle it out past Pennsylvania on April 4, and possibly all the way to the convention. If Obama sweeps on Texas and Ohio, it’s over. If Hillary manages to win one state, she’ll probably soldier on -- with McCain cheering all the way.


RIP, William F. Buckley

The conservative movement lost one of its intellectual godfathers yesterday with the passing of William F. Buckley, founder of National Review and author of countless books. Bill Buckley was the William_Buckley.jpgconservative moment throughout the ‘50s and 60’s. To steal an often used line, he made conservatism cool. National Review was a beacon for conservatives wandering in the wilderness – guiding them on a journey through intellectual discovery. He gave their ideas legitimacy and respectability, and usually did it with a disarming humor that made it impossible not to like him. His TV Show, Firing Line, was must see TV for a generation, and made him a superstar and household name. His accomplishments read like a laundry list: magazine founder, TV host, novelist, columnist, philosopher and even kingmaker. There probably wouldn’t have been a Goldwater or Reagan without Bill Buckley. It’s ironic that his passing comes at a time when the conservative movement is struggling with its identity (and presidential candidate). Rest in peace WFB.


McCain vs NYT: My take ...

I'm quoted in a PR Week story about the McCain/NYT flap.  You can read the PR Week story here, but here's my take: The New York Times was not out to "smear" McCain, as some contend, but it was reckless in including the alleged "personal relationship" with the lobbyist in question for themp_20030420_2.jpg simple reason that both parties denied it, and nobody confirmed otherwise on the record.   The story was still a damning indictment of McCain's cozy relationship with lobbyists, and undoubtedly will provide fodder for Obama or Hillary in the general election, but they should never have intimated a romantic relationship with such flimsy sourcing.  Given the reaction to the story, I can only think that the Times regrets their decision.  It's probably the last we've heard of the romantic relationship stuff, but certainly not the last we'll hear about McCain and lobbyists. 


Turn out the lights, this primary is over ...

Hillary Clinton’s task tonight was straightforward: land a knockout punch on Barack pol_070807_clinton_obama_2x2_5a.hmedium.jpgObama and change the trajectory of the election. It didn’t happen. Worse yet, it was a setback – not only did she lose on the merits, but stylistically as well. She seemed too aggressive at times, and at one point refused to stop talking.  It was not a good night for Senator Clinton.

The most bizarre moment of the debate: Senator Clinton’s complaint that she’s always asked the first question, somehow intimating that it was a grand conspiracy against her. The second most bizarre moment: Clinton citing the SNL debate skit from last Saturday as proof that the media favors Obama. Um, ok.

The big winner of the evening: Tim Russert.  Big Russ asked all the tough questions, and didn’t let the candidates filibuster. MSNBC should have made the debate an extended episode of Meet the Press and given Brian Williams the night off.

So what's left for Hillary? She's tried everything: anger, indignation, sarcasm, more anger .... and nothing has worked.  Expect to see more of the "kitchen sink" approach through March 4th, and then a (graceful?) exit from the race.   We'll see. 


Nader's Place in Third Party History

With Ralph Nader’s (predictable) announcement that he again would be seeking the presidency, it brings into focus the role of third party candidates throughout history.

Since 1856, when the Republicans and Democrats became the two national parties,071011_nobel_roosevelt_vmed12p.widec.jpg only one third party candidate – Teddy Roosevelt in 1912 – has finished second. Of course, TR was a unique situation in that he was a former President – and a popular one at that – who had lost out his party’s nomination to a sitting president (William Howard Taft). TR wasn’t the only former president to step back in the ring under a different banner: Millard Fillmore ran as a "Know-Nothing” after the Democrats refused to renominate him for a second term. Ol’ Millard finished a distant third and was never heard form again.

Regional candidates have played a big role in our electoral history. Strom Thurmond carried four states and thirty-nine delegates as the Dixiecrats standard-bearer in 1948, running on the platform of “segregation forever.” He nearly turned the election 1101481011_400.jpgto Republican Thomas Dewey of New York, who most pundits considered the favorite. Two decades later, Alabama Governor George Wallace did Thurmond one better, taking five states and forty-six delegates on the same segregationist platform. What should have been a comfortable Nixon victory turned into a squeaker, and in some ways laid the groundwork for Nixon’s “southern strategy” four years later.

The Democrats suffered one of their worst showings ever in 1924 when Robert La Follette bolted the party to form the Progressive Party, and in the process took 17 percent of the popular vote with him. La Follette only carried one state – his native Wisconsin – but it nonetheless contributed to a Coolidge landslide.

In recent times, Ross Perot has put together the strongest consecutive third party campaigns in history. His 19 percent in 1992 remains the third highest total in history, and is the highest if you exclude the former presidents, (Teddy Roosevelt and Millard Fillmore). Perot’s 9 percent in 1996 was a respectable showing, though it had little impact on the outcome.  John Anderson was a peculiar case: the liberal Republican bolted the party after losing the nomination to Ronald Reagan in 1980, but wound up siphoning votes from Carter in the general election and certainly contributed to Reagan’s landslide.


Dee Dee Has the Answers ... Sort of

Former President Clinton Press Secretary Dee Dee Myers was on the Today Show this morning, explaining toDee%20Dee%20Myers.jpg Matt Lauer that the failure of the Clinton campaign can be traced mostly to one thing: her being a woman. It's tougher for a female candidate to go on the offensive and show strength, she opined, and they're held to a higher standard than their male counterparts. I would proffer another explanation: she's run a dreadful campaign. Obama has outflanked them on the change issue, raised more money, organized better in the caucus states, and tapped into a powerful force in American politics: hope. I really don't think her gender or his race has played much of a factor at all.  Of course, she was also there to hawk her new book: Why Women Should Rule the World.  Something tells me her publisher was counting on a Hillary Presidency. Oops.


Ralph Nader, Meet Harold Stassen

It’s official: Ralph Nader has jumped the shark. In the past, there has at least been a semi-plausible rationale for his candidacy: big money interests (in his estimation) controlled both parties, the candidates weren’t particularly attractive to independent voters, reform wasn’t on the agenda, and so on. But with a likelyRalph%20Nader.jpg
Obama-McCain match up, even the most disenfranchised misanthrope would have to concede that both candidates hold strong appeal to independent and reform minded voters, and this is anything but the typical presidential election. Four years ago, Nader’s announcement sent the Democratic Party into a tizzy (not wanting a repeat of 2000), but with his declaration today, Barack Obama barely batted an eye, and pretty much shrugged it off as inconsequential. And for good reason: it’s highly unlikely that Nader would surpass his paltry .3 percent of the vote from 2004.   BTW, with today’s announcement, Ralph Nader is only four elections away from tying Harold Stassen’s record of nine failed bids at the White House. Good luck Ralph!