Abby Rapoport

Abby Rapoport is a staff writer at The American Prospect. She was previously a political reporter for the Texas Observer. Her email is arapoport@prospect.org

Recent Articles

Here Comes Trouble

A Rick Perry primer.

(AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
If Texas Governor Rick Perry didn't get you intrigued when he announced his candidacy for president on Saturday -- well, you'd best brace yourself for a long primary season. You won't be able to ignore him for long. His speech at the RedState Gathering in Charleston was vintage Perry, alternating between hardline, take-no-prisoners rhetoric and the occasional aw-shucks grin. The guy's got charm and an uncanny ability to get a friendly crowd fired up. Saturday's speech got the Red Staters so wild that when Perry said the key phrase -- "I declare to you today as a candidate for president" -- he actually had to motion them to quiet down. Only a few hours after officially entering the race, Perry was already outpolling GOP frontrunner Mitt Romney at the Iowa Straw Poll. Romney wasn't really campaigning for the event, but he was on the ballot (unlike Perry) and had participated two nights earlier in an Iowa debate. Perry, a "career politician" who's never lost a race, has both a gift for...

What's Next For Campaign Finance?

TAP talks with campaign-finance guru Thomas Mann, a key advocate for McCain-Feingold who now says reform should focus more on public funding of candidates and less on contribution limits.

Both Barack Obama and John McCain have dealt blows to the presidential public campaign financing system -- John McCain by opting in , then opting out of nomination funds and Obama by rejecting public funds for the general election outright . Thomas Mann, the W. Averell Harriman chair of Governance Studies at the Brooking Institution, has been an outspoken advocate of campaign finance reform for well over ten years. During the debate over McCain-Feingold in 2002, a bill that eliminated soft money , Mann frequently appeared in the media to offer comprehensive analysis of and justification for the proposed contribution limits and other fixes to the existing campaign finance structures. Over the last six years, Mann has continued to stand by contribution limits and other regulations. But now, as the Obama campaign continues to shatter assumptions about fundraising, Mann discusses how new efforts at reform might have to get creative, and whether public financing has a future. Abby Rapoport...

THE MYSTERY OF THE $36 MILLION SPORKS.

FEMA initially wasted tens of millions of dollars when it tried to aid Katrina victims. But now we find out that that one unknown federal offical's second-grade math skills aren't good enough to get people the aid they need. What was supposed to be $85 million in aid turned out to only $18.5 million due to a mathematical error which counted a single item as being worth as much as multiple items contained in a package of goods . For instance, in a package of sporks, each spork was counted as its own package, which inflated the value from $36,000 to $36 million. Many of the items were being stored in warehouses, rather than being distributed. A joint Congressional hearing on Thursday will examine the details of the give-away. Mistakes happen. But this is the second time in just a few weeks that FEMA officials embarrassed themselves. Basic competence, and learning from mistakes, doesn’t seem like much to ask for. --Abby Rapoport

ANOTHER CRACK.

While this will not be the year we get our first female commander-in-chief, one military glass ceiling seems to have shattered nonetheless. President Bush nominated Lt. Gen. Ann E. Dunwoody to head the Army Materiel Command, making her the first female four-star general. --Abby Rapoport

THE ADVANTAGE OF NOT QUITE QUITTING.

Editors' note: Abby Rapoport is a summer 2008 intern at the Prospect. Obama , who openly discussed his decision to quit smoking in 2006, told reporters on Tuesday that he’s taken a few puffs in the last few months. But what’s bad for his lungs may be a plus for his campaign. In 2006, Michael Currie Schafer argued that Obama should keep smoking, because it made him less packaged, less manicured for candidacy. Maybe it did, but too many people find smoking upsetting and offensive for him to just keep on. Furthermore, if his supporters want to question McCain’s health, their own candidate can’t appear to throw caution to the wind when it comes to his lungs. Which is why a struggle to quit makes Obama so appealing. Clearly he’s trying. Clearly he wants to quit. But while most other things -- like fundraising and speaking -- seem to come easily to Obama, this one seems to actually be tough. That may just be what some voters want to see. -- Abby Rapoport

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