FINAL UPDATE: Barack Obama delivers his victory speech:
11:18 PM: Sen. Joe Biden (D-DE) has also announced that he is dropping out. He received 1 percent of the delegate count in the caucuses.
10:37 PM: CNN and MSNBC are reporting that Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT) plans to drop out of the Democratic presidential race. He came in seventh place in the Iowa caucuses.
10:30 PM: MSNBC reports that “heavy turnout clogged Iowa’s 1,800 precinct caucuses.” According to the Iowa Democratic party, there were a record 218,000 caucus participants with 93.5 percent of the precincts reporting.
10:23 PM: The Clinton campaign has put out a statement:
Congratulations to Senator Obama and his campaign on their victory tonight. It’s been a hard fought race here in Iowa for the last year and all eyes now turn to New Hampshire.
Hillary is going to continue making the case that in these serious times when America faces big challenges, it will take a leader with the strength and experience to deliver real change.
This race begins tonight and ends when Democrats throughout America have their say. Our campaign was built for a marathon and we have the resources to run a national race in the weeks ahead.
10:22 PM: In a speech to supporters, Elizabeth Edwards introduced her husband as the “second place winner.” John Edwards closed his speech by saying, “Thank you for second place!”
10:00 PM: Politico’s Mike Allen offers this punditry on Fox News about John McCain, who is currently running fourth behind Huckabee, Romney, and Thompson:
Tonight is a fantastic night for John McCain. … He’s one of the biggest winners of the night. He’s now in a fantastic position. Except for Barack Obama, there’s almost no one you’d rather be tonight than John McCain.
“McCain, however, resisted efforts to call Romney’s loss a McCain win when reporters pressed him on what it would mean for his own fortunes in the next contest, the New Hampshire primary on Tuesday. ‘I consider it to be Gov. Huckabee’s victory,’ said McCain.”
9:42 PM: The AP surveyed Iowa caucus-goers about their ideology and found that half of those at the Democratic caucuses “described themselves as liberal, compared to 56 percent in 2004 and 49 percent in 2000.” At the Republican caucuses, nearly eight in 10 “called themselves conservative, compared to about three-quarters of voters in the last two contested GOP caucuses, in 1996 and 2000.”
9:32 PM: Fox News has called the Democratic caucuses for Obama. Edwards and Clinton are tied for second.
9:27 PM: CNN and MSNBC have called Iowa for Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL).
9:24 PM: The AP reports on Huckabee’s victory:
Romney sought to frame his defeat as something less than that, saying he had trailed Huckabee, a former Arkansas governor, by more than 20 points a few weeks ago. “I’ve been pleased that I’ve been able to make up ground and I intend to keep making up ground, not just here but across the country,” he said.
On Fox News, Huckabee strategist Ed Rollins said his candidate won because the former governor is a “populist strong candidate.”
9:16 PM: The Des Moines Register reports that heavy turnout is causing delays at many caucus sites.
9:01 PM: CNN, Fox News, and MSNBC have projected that former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee has won the Iowa caucuses. Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney just appeared on Fox News and conceded: “Congratulations for the first round to Mike, and we’ll go on to New Hampshire.” Romney added Huckabee had “a natural base” in Iowa. Watch it:
8:58 PM: CNN reports that half of the Democratic caucus-goers in Iowa are first-time participants, according to early entrance polls. Additionally, close to 60 percent are women and 80 percent are over the age of 45. Iraq ranks as the top issue. Watch it:
On the Republican side, “nearly 75 percent are over the age of 45. There are slightly more men than women.” Approximately 60 percent identify themselves as evangelical Christians. Immigration is the top issue.
Wolf Blitzer says Mike Huckabee wins on the GOP side.
Yesterday, Attorney General Mike Mukasey announced a DoJ probe into the CIA’s torture tape destruction. The Washington Post’s Dan Froomkin raises the question of whether the probe will investigate the roles of Vice President Dick Cheney and his chief of staff, David Addington:
Cheney has been the administration’s central figure on all things related to torture. [...]
So it should have come as no surprise when the New York Times reported last month that David S. Addington, Cheney’s chief of staff and former legal counsel, was among the three White House lawyers who participated in at least one key meeting about the videotapes in 2004.
The initial spin from the White House was that only Harriet E. Miers, then a deputy White House chief of staff, had been briefed about the tapes — and that she had advised against their destruction.
But with anything related to torture, it’s pretty clear the CIA took its orders from Cheney — via Addington. And how plausible is it that, in his exchanges with the CIA, Addington advised against the tapes’ destruction? Or that the CIA would have done it if he had told them not to? Isn’t it more likely that he supported the idea, either overtly or with a nod and a wink?
I think Kansas will beat Virginia Tech, but the real winner of the Orange Bowl will be John McCain as the merest thought of football reminds voters of his toughness.
Chris Matthews opines that John McCain will be “one of the winners tonight with about 18 points,” 18 percent being, of course, a losing margin but Matthews wants to have his babies so who cares.
Watching Chris Matthews, I just saw that Tim Russert has already booked John McCain as his featured interviewee for this Sunday. Republican presidential candidate who won the Iowa Caucuses? Well, sorry, you’re out of luck. It’s already been decided that the “real” story out of Iowa is McCain….
Bush, a veteran of two successful White House campaigns with only a year to go in office, declined to predict winners. “I just can’t tell and neither can you. It is wide open,” he said in a Reuters interview on Thursday. [...]
“Whoever wins tonight, it will be a glorious moment but my only advice is ‘saddle up’ because it’s the beginning,” said Bush, owner of a Texas ranch.
“The primary season has an interesting way of testing people. What looks like a smooth road gets bumpy awfully quickly,” he added.
I hereby endorse Scott Lemieux’s not-really-endorsement (as well I should, since it quotes me).
Last month after the CIA admitted that it had destroyed videotapes of interrogations, Rep. Jane Harman (D-CA) — formerly the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee — said that she had urged the CIA in writing not to destroy the tapes. Today, Harman’s office released the Feb. 10, 2003 letter after the CIA finally declassified it. In the letter, she urges the CIA to “reconsider” destroying the tapes:
You discussed [in a briefing the previous week] the fact that there is videotape of Abu Zubaydah following his capture that will be destroyed after the Inspector General finishes his inquiry. I would urge the Agency to reconsider that plan. Even if the videotape does not constitute an official record that must be preserved under the law, the videotape would be the best proof that the written record is accurate, if such record is called into question in the future. The fact of destruction would reflect badly on the Agency.
Read the full letter here