Tales from the Trail

A little stealthy debate help from friends? It could happen

October 2, 2008

debate.jpgBIRMINGHAM, Alabama – Is it possible that a candidate could get a little help from friends during a presidential or vice presidential debate?
 
The idea that a contender could get advice or facts from staff through an earpiece while at the podium might strain the bounds of moral possibility, but technologically it could happen.  The CIA created an earpiece known as the SRR-100 in the 1970s to enable its officers in Moscow to monitor KGB frequencies and see if they were under surveillance, according to a recent book by Robert Wallace, the agency’s former director of Technical Services.
 
The CIA’s problem was disguising the earpiece but using 19th century technology known as an induction loop it became possible and today variations of the gadget are available for less than $100.
 
“The technology exists for someone using a two-way radio to give instructions to someone on stage via an easily concealable earpiece over nearly four thousand channels,” said director of sales at customearpiece.com Steve Perodi.
 
“The earpiece is especially easy to conceal if the wearer has a lot of hair,” Perodi said.
 
But it wouldn’t be easy.
 
The Commission on Presidential Debates employs a frequency coordinator armed with a spectrum analyzer capable of detecting any radio use during the debate. ”It’s improbable but not impossible. My job is to find them, which isn’t hard with a spectrum analyzer,” said veteran frequency coordinator Steve Mendelsohn.
 
“But as we used to say in the Navy: ‘We can see every submarine in the world. The question is, can we prosecute them?’ Who’s going to go up to a presidential candidate and pat them down?,” he said.

Obama to fainting supporter: Eat!

October 2, 2008

obama-oct-2.jpgEAST LANSING – With a little over a month to go until the Nov. 4 U.S. presidential election, U.S. Sen. Barack Obama has no time for fainters. At an outdoor rally on Wednesday at Michigan State University in East Lansing, Michigan, the Democrat was all business.

Amid inaction on financial bailout, blame game continues in McCain ad

September 30, 2008

PHOENIX  – U.S. lawmakers have yet to back a plan to try and stem the global financial crisis. But the vigorous round of finger-pointing over who is to blame for it continued on the campaign trail on Tuesday as John McCain’s camp singled out Democratic rival Barack Obama and former President Bill Clinton in a new ad.

New crop of ads has both Obama, McCain slinging mud

September 23, 2008

WASHINGTON – If mud is the currency of political campaigns, the U.S. presidential race is on sounder footing than Wall Street.
 
Just look at the latest crop of campaign ads.
 
The way they tell it, voters on Nov. 4 are either going to elect a president with crooked friends or one who rtx8tgc.jpgwouldn’t mind seeing them sick and poor in retirement.
 
Republican presidential candidate John McCain’s new commercial portrays rival Barack Obama as being part of a corrupt Chicago political machine.
 
It revives questions about Obama’s links to political fundraiser Antoin “Tony” Rezko, who raised up to $250,000 for the Illinois senator’s previous political campaigns.
 
Rezko was convicted of fraud, attempted bribery and money laundering earlier this year. Obama has not been accused of any wrongdoing in connection with Rezko but has acknowledged an error of judgment in a land deal with the businessman.
 
McCain’s ad tries to tar Obama with his fundraiser’s misdeeds, and with his connections with Chicago politicians who have been investigated for various issues.
 
“His money man Tony Rezko. Client. Patron. Convicted,” the ad announcer intones. His political godfather Emil Jones. Under ethical cloud. His governor Rod Blagojevich. A legacy of federal and state investigations.”
 
“With friends like that, Obama is not ready to lead,” the ad says.

Palin sees debate with Biden as ‘quite a task’

September 18, 2008

WASHINGTON – Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin sounds a bit wary about her upcoming debate with her really, really, really experienced Democratic rival.
 
“Senator (Joe) Biden has a tremendous amount of experience,” she told Fox News. “I think he was first elected when I was like in the second grade.”
 
If her running mate John McCain, 72, wasn’t hoping to be the oldest person to begin a first term as president, one might think Palin was suggesting Biden, 65, was old. 
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“He’s been in there a long, long, long time,” Palin said. “So he’s got the experience. He probably has the sound bites. He has the rhetoric. He knows what’s expected of him. He is a great debater, also.”
 
“So yes, it’s going to be quite a task in front of me,” she said.
 
Palin also said she didn’t mean to insult Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama in her nominating speech when she belittled his experience as a community organizer. 

Financial gloom doesn’t halt glitzy Obama fundraiser

September 16, 2008

So what does Barack Obama do after a hard day of defending the common man during the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression?
 
Throw a $28,500-a-head fundraising dinner, of course.
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Followed by a $2,500-a-head reception featuring Barbra Streisand singing a song or two.

Gore had his Internet, McCain his BlackBerry

September 16, 2008

In the annals of inventor-lawmakers, Republican presidential candidate John McCain may rank even higher than Al Gore.
 
rtr21w17.jpgGore famously said in 1999 as he was preparing to launch his presidential bid that he helped create the Internet while he was a member of the Senate.
 
He was roundly ridiculed for the comment, which rumor and repetition quickly converted into an urban myth that Gore claimed to be the inventor of the Internet.

Obama ad challenges McCain’s honor

September 15, 2008

WASHINGTON – Barack Obama is using a scathing new attack ad to challenge the fundamental perception that John McCain – former Navy aviator and prisoner of war — is honorable.
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It was bound to happen. The McCain camp has been doing the same thing to Obama for weeks, trying to turn public perceptions about his strengths into weaknesses using attack ads and ridicule.
 
McCain went after Obama’s popularity and his strength as an orator. His campaign even tried to defuse the race issue by accusing Obama — who would be the first black U.S. president if elected — of racism.
 
So it was inevitable the Obama camp would eventually strike back — and it did after McCain was roundly criticized in the press for an ad that falsely accused the Illinois Democrat of favoring sex education for kindergarten children.
 
“What’s happened to John McCain? He’s running the sleaziest ads ever. Truly vile,” the narrator of the ad entitled “Honor” says as quotes pulled from newspaper columns scroll over an ever-shrinking photo of the Arizona senator.

Obama defends community organizers

September 4, 2008

newphil.jpgLANCASTER, Pa. - The work of community organizers, who work  for low salaries to help people in impoverished communities,  is getting lots of attention this week as Republicans poke jabs at Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama‘s job experience.

‘Gaffe Machine’ says election is so about the issues

September 3, 2008

biden3.jpgFORT MYERS, Florida – Democratic vice presidential nominee Joe Biden, mocked by Republicans as a “gaffe machine,” took a swipe Wednesday at a remark by John McCain’s campaign manager that “this election is not about issues.”
 
“This election is not about issues?” Biden asked rhetorically, drawing hoots and hollers at a town-hall style meeting with several hundred people in Fort Myers, Florida. Noting Americans have difficulty paying for such basics as health insurance and gasoline for their cars, Biden said, “Where I come from, that’s an issue.”
 
Campaign manager Rick Davis, in an interview with The Washington Post, said, “This election is not about issues.” He said, “This election is about a composite view of what people take away from these candidates.” He predicted that the more voters get to know McCain and Democratic presidential rival Barack Obama, the more they will like the Republican ticket.
 
Biden bristled. “You have the greatest character in the world, but you are not going to give me a fighting chance that would keep my job. I love ya, but I don’t want you as president,” he said.
 
During 35 years in the Senate, the fast-talking, often long-winded Biden has earned a reputation for gaffes. Republicans count two since last week’s Democratic National Convention — when he referred to Obama as “Barack America” and put himself on the top of the ticket by saying he was “running for president.”
 
On Wednesday, Biden made another slip of the tongue. In promising to help Americans if elected, he said, “the Biden, excuse me, the Obama-Biden administration.” Amid laughter, he added, “Believe me, you all got it right: Obama-Biden.”