Tales from the Trail

Biden welcomes Navy ship home for the holidays

MAYPORT, Fla. – Vice President Joe Biden made an unscheduled stop during a visit to Florida on Thursday to greet 350 sailors from the USS Gettysburg as they came home after seven months at sea.

A brass band played and happy families waved flags and held up signs as a grinning Biden helped them welcome home loved ones just in time for the holidays. Seven of the sailors who had babies born while they were at sea were allowed to get off the ship first.


Sophia Perfida, 11 months, waits to see her father.

One sailor dressed up as Santa Claus in honor of the ship’s arrival, drawing thrilled shouts from some of the children waiting for their mothers and fathers.

“This is the greatest thing in the world,” said Captain Robert Hein, commander of the guided-missile cruiser Gettysburg, which had been to Afghanistan, off the Horn of Africa and the Mediterranean during its deployment.

“This is Christmas, New Year’s, the Fourth of July and your birthday all wrapped up in one.”

Romney takes a swing at Obama golf habit

Most presidents have their hobbies. George W. Bush loved to clear brush on his Texas ranch, and to take long mountain bike rides. Bill Clinton played the saxophone. John Quincy Adams reportedly liked to skinny-dip in the Potomac River.

Barack Obama likes to play golf. And Republican challenger Mitt Romney doesn’t approve.

The Romney campaign on Wednesday launched a website, fortyfore.com, that takes a swing at Obama’s golf habit. The site says that Obama has played “1,584 holes since 2009″ — the equivalent of 88 rounds of golf as he nears the end of his third year in office. That would put Obama far short of House Speaker John Boehner, who reportedly works much harder on the links to maintain a single-digit handicap.

RickPerry.com reroutes visitors to Ron Paul’s 2012 site

By Karen Brooks

Update, 6:30pm ET: RickPerry.com is no longer sending visitors to ronpaul2012.com.

Original post:

It’s common knowledge that Texas Gov. Rick Perry has plenty of campaign money – the question is, would he be willing to let go of about $50,000 of it in the name of cyber politics?

Critics of Perry and fans of fellow GOP presidential candidate Congressman Ron Paul are laughing this week over the fact that www.RickPerry.com redirects visitors to Paul’s campaign website.

from Political Theater:

Rick Perry denounces “Obama’s war on religion” in new TV ad

Governor Rick Perry accuses President Obama of leading a "war on religion" in his latest ad, a thirty second spot airing in Iowa that also condemns gays serving openly the military and regulations on school prayer.

“I’m not ashamed to admit that I’m a Christian,” says Perry, who is polling at around 11 percent in Iowa according to a NYT/CBS poll released yesterday.

"But you don’t need to be in the pew every Sunday to know that there’s something wrong in this country when gays can serve openly in the military, but our kids can’t openly celebrate Christmas or pray in school."

New Romney ad counters ‘flip-flopper’ label

In case you missed it, Mitt Romney grew a bit testy when Fox News’ Bret Baier pressed him with questions about his about-faces on issues like abortion, climate change and immigration in an interview last week.

Now a new ad out from his campaign looks to counter the ‘flip-flopper’ label Romney has grown so tired of talking about. The ad, released online today and due to air in Iowa and New Hampshire this week, features images of Romney as a young man with his family while Romney gives a voice-over:

 I think people understand that I’m a man of steadiness and constancy. I don’t think you’re going to find somebody who has more of those attributes than I do.

Press release hoaxer targets SEIU, Obama

 

Someone is unhappy with President Barack Obama, but it isn’t the Service Employees International Union.

Targeting an influential union that is an important source of support for the Democratic president as he seeks re-election, a hoaxer put out a fake press release on Tuesday night saying the labor group had voted to withdraw its Nov. 16 endorsement.

The reason? According to the fake release, the 2.1-million-member union felt it was too early to endorse anyone.

Conservatives bash Obama for gay rights stand

Conservative groups and Republican White House hopeful Rick Perry wasted no time in panning the Obama administration for its move on Tuesday to stand up for gay rights abroad – the first-ever U.S. government strategy to tackle LGBT human rights abuses worldwide.

In an seven-point executive order on Tuesday, Obama told U.S. diplomats and foreign aid workers to do more to advance rights of lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgendered persons abroad – a move that promotes U.S. human rights policies and speaks to a key Democratic constituency at home.

“I am deeply concerned by the violence and discrimination targeting LGBT persons around the world…No country should deny people their rights because of who they love, which is why we must stand up for the rights of gays and lesbians everywhere,” Obama said in the memo, which will be published in the Federal Register. “I am directing all agencies engaged abroad to ensure that U.S. diplomacy and foreign assistance promote and protect the human rights of LGBT persons.”

Republicans, again, look to older White House candidates

If presidential candidates, like fine wine, improve with age, the 2012 Republican field is in luck.  The top three contenders — Newt Gingrich, Mitt Romney and Ron Paul — would each be one of the oldest U.S. presidents ever if he were to defeat Barack Obama and win the White House in 2012.

Gingrich, who currently leads the Republican pack, would be 69 years and 7 months old on Inauguration Day, January 20, 2013. That would make him the second-oldest first-term U.S. president, just behind Ronald Reagan, who was 69 years and 11 months old when he first took the oath of office in January 1981.

Romney is a bit younger than Gingrich, who was Speaker of the House in the 1990s. But, at 65 years and 10 months old on Jan. 20, 2013, Romney would be tied for third place in the presidential age stakes, after Reagan and William Henry Harrison. James Buchanan, the 15th U.S. president, was 65 years, 10 months and 9 days old when he was sworn in on March 4, 1857, the same age that Romney would be.

Just what is a “Lincoln-Douglas” debate?

Republican frontrunner Newt Gingrich and long-shot Jon Huntsman say they’ll hold a “Lincoln-Douglas” debate in New Hampshire on Monday. So how will it be different from the usual debates?

During the 1858 race for U.S. Senate in Illinois, incumbent Democrat Stephen Douglas and upstart Republican lawyer Abraham Lincoln held a series of seven three-hour debates in towns throughout the state on the day’s hottest topic: slavery.

The debates had no moderator, and the candidates spoke in paragraphs rather than today’s rehearsed 45-second sound bites. In each of the debates, the first candidate was given 60 minutes to make opening remarks. His opponent was given 90 minutes to respond, and the first candidate was allowed a final 30-minute rebuttal.

President Dan Quayle? Yes, it almost happened, for a few hours back in 1991.

Dan Quayle’s endorsement of Republican Mitt Romney in Arizona on Tuesday brings to mind Quayle’s tenure as vice president for President George H.W. Bush back in the early 1990s, and the time he almost assumed the powers of the presidency.

Here’s what happened.

Bush suffered a rapid heartbeat while jogging at Camp David on May 4, 1991, and was rushed to Bethesda Naval Medical Center for treatment.

At the time, there were immediate fears that Bush had a heart attack. Communications among White House staff and the press corps were difficult in this pre-Blackberry era, and there was a lot of confusion.