Tales from the Trail

Whoever runs in Minnesota stays in Minnesota?

Nearly five months after the 2008 election, there’s no sign that either Norm Coleman or Al Franken will definitively be declared the winner in the race for one of Minnesota’s U.S. Senate seats, allowing him to spend the next six years in Washington.

USA/Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell told Reuters in an interview that it could be many months before all legal challenges are exhausted. “I don’t think we’re going to see the end to this matter any time soon,” McConnell said.

For those who have forgotten about this cliff-hanger: Coleman, the Democrat-turned-Republican first-term senator running for reelection, lagged behind Democratic comedian-author-Franken by only 225 votes after a recount of nearly 2.4 million ballots cast for the two.

Legal challenges followed and the two candidates are awaiting a ruling any day now by a three-judge panel in Minnesota.

But McConnell said that won’t be the end of it. He said Coleman is likely to employ a Bush v. Gore argument and try to convince the courts that there needs to be a uniform standard of counting ballots throughout the state.

Palin gets a little help from a friend, Cindy McCain

WASHINGTON – The polls and pundits may be giving Sarah Palin a bad rap, but the Republican vice presidential candidate from Alaska has one staunch defender.

“I think she’s been treated very poorly in the press,” said Cindy McCain in an interview with CNN’s Larry King.

The wife of Republican presidential hopeful John McCain dismissed any idea that Palin has been a drag on the Republican ticket.

Superstitious Biden sure of Pennsylvania, not others

ZANESVILLE, Ohio – Joe Biden would bet his daughter’s graduate tuition on winning the battleground state of Pennsylvania, but he said he was not so sure of Ohio, Indiana or Missouri.

Speaking to reporters en route to a rally, the Democratic vice presidential candidate was upbeat about Tuesday’s election. But he would not say if he expected Barack Obama to win.

“I am superstitious and so I am not going to comment on us winning or losing,” he said.

No Republican tricks at polls: McCain camp

WASHINGTON – A flier warning that Republicans could try to intimidate voters on Tuesday in the battleground state of Pennsylvania drew a sharp rebuke from John McCain’s camp.

The flier circulating in Lancaster County tells voters to be on alert for attempts to challenge their eligibility, according to McCain backer and former Sen. John Danforth.

He said the flier warns students and “people of color” they could be targeted, and some people might be told they cannot vote if they did not cast a ballot in the primaries, are delinquent on child support or have outstanding parking tickets.

Yale economist’s model gives Obama 4-point spread on McCain

DALLAS – Yale Economist Ray Fair’s econometric forecasting model for presidential elections gives an almost 4-point spread to Democrat Barack Obama over Republican John McCain in Tuesday’s White House election.

The model, based on data going back almost a century, has just been updated after Thursday’s release of figures showing U.S. economic output shrank at a 0.3 percent annual rate in the third quarter as the
biggest pullback by consumers since 1980 overwhelmed an increase in government spending.

On his web site, Fair says in a two-party presidential race, the Democratic candidate can expect 51.91 percent of the vote while the candidate for the incumbent White House party — the Republican Party — is seen garnering 48.09 percent.

Colombians keen to vote for Obama, or bet on him

By Freddy Builes

TURBACO, Colombia – A former mayor of this coastal town is such as fan of U.S. presidential candidate Barack Obama that he plans to hold a mock election to allow Colombians to vote for the Democrat.

Silvio Carrasquilla plastered the front of his house with pictures of Obama, campaign slogans and U.S. flags.

“We want to show the moral support that Obama has here,” said 28-year-old Carrasquilla, who was mayor from 2004 to 2008. “I got the idea when people who saw the house started asking if there was some way for them to vote.”

Catholic groups launches pro-Obama web site

DALLAS – Catholics for Obama has just launched a web site as the Nov. 4 White House race between Democrat Barack Obama and Republican John McCain enters its final laps.

The candidate

Catholics, who account for close to a quarter of the U.S. adult population, comprise a key religious group that both sides have tried to woo. In closely contested swing states such as Ohio or Florida the Catholic vote could make a difference.

The web site is sure to stoke controversy in Catholic circles with this statement: “Is Barack Obama really pro-life? The answer is ‘yes.’ Looking through the lens of Catholic Social Teaching, Senator Obama has spent his entire career striving for the common good. He supports health care programs that will cover all Americans, a living wage for working families, and solutions that allow distressed families to stay in their homes.” 

I can boogie better than McCain, brags Obama

boogie.jpgMIAMI – One thing Barack Obama does know — he can beat his Republican rival John McCain in a dancing contest.

In an appearance on the Ellen DeGeneres show via satellite from Miami, Obama stood before a crowd of cheering supporters and showed off his dance moves to James Brown’s big hit “Get Up Offa That Thing”. 

After boogying to the music played from Ellen’s studio, Obama conceded that his wife Michelle is a better dancer.

Michelle Obama brings Republican date to the debate

rtr20fdd.jpgIt’s no surprise that Michelle Obama will be rooting for her husband, Barack Obama, when the Democratic presidential candidate squares off against Republican John McCain in their final debate at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York tonight.

What is a little startling, however, is that sitting right next to her will be Lilibet Hagel, the wife of Nebraska Republican Sen. Chuck Hagel.

The Obama campaign said Lilibet Hagel, a Republican who has endorsed the Democratic presidential candidate, will attend the debate as Michelle Obama’s “special guest.”

Ohio governor tells gun owners not to fear Obama

CHILLICOTHE, Ohio – Gov. Ted Strickland on Friday sought to allay concerns of gun owners in his state who fear Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama would push for greater restrictions on firearms.
“There is probably no governor, I would say, in the United States of America, who has a stronger, better record in the support of the Second Amendment than does Governor Ted Strickland and I’m proud of that,” Strickland told a rally in Chillicothe as he warmed up the crowd ahead of a speech by Obama.
Strickland, whose battleground state is a focus of intensive campaigning by Obama and Republican John McCain, said he spoke directly to Obama about the right to bear arms in the Second Amendment.
“If you are a sportsman, if you are a gun owner, if you are someone that honors and respects the Second Amendment, you have nothing to fear from Barack Obama,” the Democratic governor said at a rally in the rural southern part of his state.
In June, after the Supreme Court struck down a strict gun control law in Washington, Obama said he supports the Second Amendment protection.
But he also added that he identifies with some living in inner cities who seek “common sense, effective safety measures” to try reduce gun violence in crime-ravaged communities.
In April, Obama’s comments to a closed-door fund-raiser in San Francisco saying small town voters would “cling” to their guns and religion because they were “bitter” over their economic conditions caused a storm of criticism.
McCain endeared himself to Americans in favor of the right to bear arms by picking Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, who enjoys hunting and who, according to former Tennessee Republican Sen. Fred Thompson, knows how to “field-dress a moose.”
Palin might differ with Strickland on which governor is a bigger champion of the Second Amendment. 

Click here for more Reuters 2008 campaign coverage.

- Photo credit: Reuters/Jessica Rinaldi (Guns are seen inside a display case at the Cabela’s store in Fort Worth, Texas June 26, 2008)