Tales from the Trail

Iranian leader’s plane shares tarmac with Air Force One

Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad arrives at Tehran’s Mehrabad airport after a visit to Latin American countries January 14, 2012. REUTERS/Raheb Homavandi

WASHINGTON, Sept. 26 – As President Barack Obama and passengers on Air Force One left for campaign events in Ohio on Wednesday, there was an unusual sight spotted from the presidential aircraft: Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s plane.

At Joint Base Andrews, which houses the U.S. president’s jet, reporters traveling with Obama spotted a plane marked “Iran Air” parked on the tarmac.

The 89th Airlift Wing, which oversees the runway at Andrews, confirmed the Boeing 747 was indeed Ahmadinejad’s plane, which was used for this week’s United Nations General Assembly gathering in New York before parking at the U.S. military base.

“It is something we afford all heads of state,” said Major Michelle Lai, a spokeswoman for the 89th Airlift Wing. “It’s a courtesy that allows them a place to put their aircraft and provides a little bit of extra security,” she added.

Romney’s problems with minority voters extend to Asians, study shows

Republican Mitt Romney’s problems appealing to minority voters extends beyond blacks and Hispanics, with Asian-Americans also heavily favoring Democratic President Barack Obama’s re-election on Nov. 6.

Among likely voters who are Asian American, 43 percent back Obama, compared with 24 percent for Romney. But there are still many out there to be won over, because a third – 32 percent – of those who are judged likely to cast ballots on Nov. 6 have not yet made up their minds, according to the National Asian American Survey, which organizers said was  the largest such study of Asian American and Pacific Islanders’ public opinion ever done in the United States.

Many, however, have yet to be won over, because a third – 32 percent – of those who are judged likely to cast ballots on Nov. 6 have not yet made up their minds, the study found.

“Outside” spending for 2012 election already beats 2010

 

There are still six weeks before Election Day on Nov. 6, but spending by Super PACs and other outside groups has already hit $465 million, more than all of the entire 2010 campaign season, with Republican-aligned groups spending well over twice as much as those backing Democrats.

Democratic-aligned Super PACs have spent $108.4 million this year, and Republican-aligned Super PACs have spent $270.5 million, according to the Sunlight Foundation, which tracks political spending. The total independent expenditures by other Super PACs was $15.6 million.

Spending by outside groups in 2010 totaled $454 million, the group said.

And much of the latest uptick in spending is focused on congressional races, even in the closely contested ” swing” states ultimately expected to determine whether Democratic President Barack Obama is re-elected or his Republican challenger Mitt Romney ousts him from the White House.

Rock band The National to headline Obama fundraiser in Ohio

Music group The National and Democratic National Committee Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz will headline a fundraiser benefiting President Barack Obama’s re-election campaign in Cincinnati on October 5, a donor to the campaign said.

The early-evening event in downtown Cincinnati will feature an acoustic concert by the alternative rock group, which is known for brooding songs like “Bloodbuzz Ohio.” The Brooklyn-based band, which formed in Cincinnati, has been Obama’s opening act a number of times since his first White House run in 2008.

The event will also feature remarks and a question and answer session with Schultz, a Florida lawmaker who has ripped Republicans for proposed austerity measures and changes to government-run healthcare for the elderly.

Pelosi confident Democrats will win back House, says Obama will “win big”

U.S. House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi said on Friday that despite predictions by so-called experts to the contrary, she’s confident her party will win back the chamber in the Nov. 6 election.

“The momentum is with us,” Pelosi said. “Our motto is don’t agonize, organize.”

Pelosi declined to say, however, if she would remain as her party’s House leader if Republicans retain control of the chamber.

Hollywood actors pose for Obama campaign social media drive

President Barack Obama’s re-election campaign is launching a “celebrity portrait shot” social media drive, a source close to the campaign said, drawing again on its base of Hollywood supporters to drum up enthusiasm for the Democratic incumbent ahead of the Nov. 6 election.

The source said that the initiative would bring between 20 and 30 actors – such as KaDee Strickland from medical drama “Private Practice,” Ashley Fink of TV musical series “Glee,” and Penny Marshall of the classic sitcom “Laverne & Shirley” – to a production studio in Culver City, California to be photographed in black and white for roughly 15 minutes on Friday.

The portraits will be blasted out over social media websites, like Twitter, with links to the Obama campaign’s website, where supporters can sign up to volunteer for or donate to the Democratic incumbent’s re-election drive.

This election, abortion rights activists are looking for just a few good women

This fall, there is going to be a relatively small group of women voters who may be very, very sick of hearing from NARAL Pro-Choice America by Election Day on Nov. 6.

Like most of those involved in politics this election year, the abortion rights advocacy group says that women will determine the outcome of the contest on Nov. 6 between Democratic President Barack Obama and his Republican challenger, Mitt Romney.

But unlike most, the group has identified, by name and address, the thousands of women across the country that it thinks might make the difference – and it plans to go after their votes,  and in a big way, but in small numbers – in many cases as few as 1,000 or 2,000 in an individual county.

Union leader sees opportunity in Romney’s dismissal of the “47 percent”

Democrats have reacted gleefully to the release of Mitt Romney’s secretly videotaped dismissal of 47 percent of American voters – whom he identified as supporters of President Barack Obama – as victims who do not pay their share or “care for their lives.”

But few have reacted with as much glee as union leaders who have spent the past two years waging big fights over labor rules with Republican-controlled state governments – and the past week facing fallout from a bitter Chicago teachers’ strike.

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka blasted Romney’s comments as the latest sign that the wealthy former businessman is out of touch with ordinary Americans.

Not expecting a call from the president? Try the second line

A warning to those who are sometimes slow to pick up the phone: you may miss a call from the president.

President Barack Obama stopped by a local campaign office in Port St. Lucie, Florida, on Sunday to visit with supporters, and he placed a call to Barney Roberts, a volunteer in Jacksonville.

“Hopefully he’ll answer,” Obama said as excited volunteers listened in.

Obama gets a surprising ‘lift’ in Florida pizza joint

President Obama is hugged by Scott Van Duzer at a pizza shop in Florida

President Barack Obama met his match in the fitness category at an impromptu campaign visit on Sunday.

Stopping by a pizza place — the Big Apple Pizza & Pasta Italian Restaurant — in Ft. Pierce, Florida, the president, a workout fanatic, was welcomed by the 6-foot-3, 260-pound, big-muscled owner, Scott Van Duzer.

“If I eat your pizza, will I look like that?” Obama asked, marveling at the man’s physique.