Tales from the Trail

Biden cancels campaign events, illness in family

joe-wife1.jpgWILMINGTON, Del. – With a sick relative and a son headed off to war, Democratic vice presidential nominee Joe Biden has grounded his campaign for a few days. 

Biden canceled a visit to Washington, D.C., on Saturday night and a trip to Virginia on Sunday because of what a spokesman called “a serious illness” in the family of his wife, Jill.

 ”Hospice has advised the Bidens to remain close by, and we appreciate everyone’s respect for the family’s privacy,” the spokesman, David Wade, said in a statement.

Biden didn’t campaign on Friday, either. 

Instead, he spent the day after his big debate with Republican rival Sarah Palin in his home state of Delaware.

His only public appearance was at a departure ceremony in Dover for 112 members of the Army Delaware National Guard, including his son, Beau, who is being deployed to Iraq for about a year. 

Bush gave him a ride anyway

bush1.jpgST. LOUIS – President George W. Bush gave Kenny Hulshof a ride on Air Force One to a fundraiser on Friday for the Republican congressman who just hours earlier had voted for a second time against the financial bailout package. 

 Bush attended the fundraiser that was expected to raise $1.5 million for Hulshof who is running for governor of Missouri and trailing in the polls against Democrat Jay Nixon. 

Bush and Hulshof emerged from Air Force One side-by-side and waved to onlookers at the airport. 

McCain “disappointed” that media declared debate a tie

mccain3.jpgWASHINGTON – Republican White House hopeful John McCain, fresh from his first debate with Democratic rival Barack Obama in Mississippi, expressed regret on Saturday that his performance didn’t win over all the pundits in the press.
 
“I was a little disappointed the media called it a tie but I think that means, when they call it a tie, that means we win,” McCain said during a telephone call that was caught by cameras filming him at his campaign headquarters.
 
Both camps claimed victory after the 90-minute debate on Friday.
 
Meanwhile, Obama’s campaign manager, David Plouffe, sought to lower expectations for the next debate in Tennessee on Oct. 7. It will be conducted in a town-hall style with questions from an audience.
 
“We will be a decided underdog in that encounter, and John McCain is the undisputed town hall champion,” Plouffe told reporters on a conference call, noting that McCain — who is fond of the format — had challenged Obama to do joint town hall meetings throughout the summer.
 
“He clearly feels, even more than the foreign policy debate, this is his home turf. So if we can just escape relatively unscathed against the undisputed town hall champion in Tennessee, we’ll be thrilled.”
 
Obama has held regular town halls of his own throughout the 2008 campaign and does not appear to struggle with the format.

Click here for more Reuters 2008 campaign coverage.

Photo credit: Reuters/Brian Snyder (McCain talks on the phone at his campaign headquarters in Arlington, Virginia, on Sept. 27)
 

Letterman skewers McCain for canceling ‘Late Show’ visit

WASHINGTON – John McCain should have seen this one coming.
 
The Republican presidential candidate suspended his campaign and dramatically announced he was going to Washington to help hammer out a $700 billion bailout to save the U.S. economy.
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Then he called to cancel with David Letterman. At the last minute. Leaving the wickedly funny late night comic with blank airtime to fill. Probably not the smartest move.
 
“Senator John McCain, the Republican candidate for president, was supposed to be on the program tonight,” Letterman said in an opening volley. “But had to cancel the show because he’s suspending his campaign because the economy is exploding.”
 
“You know who John McCain is,” he added to laughter from his live audience. “He’s the running mate of Sarah Palin, you’re aware of that?”
 
And that was just the start. Letterman wasn’t about to let it go. After heaping praise on McCain as an American hero, it was right back to the cancellation.
 
“When you call up and you call up at the last minute and you cancel a show, ladies and gentlemen, that’s starting to smell,” Letterman said. “This, this is not the John McCain I know, by God. It makes me believe something’s gone haywire with the campaign.”
 
“This just doesn’t smell right because this is not the way a tested hero behaves. Somebody’s putting something in his Metamucil,” he said.

A presidential candidate doesn’t just suspend the campaign, Letterman insisted.

“You go back to Washington. You handle what you need to handle. Don’t suspend your campaign. Let your campaign go on, shouldered by your vice presidential nominee, that’s what you do. You don’t quit,” Letterman said, pausing to let his audience mull over the idea of McCain letting the little-experienced Alaska governor take over the campaign.
 
“Or is that really a good thing to do?” Letterman asked.
 
The jibes kept coming. McCain’s age — at 72 he’ll be the oldest president to start a first term in office — and Palin’s inexperience.
 
He reacted with mock astonishment when he discovered McCain had not raced back to Washington but was instead being interviewed for the CBS evening newscast with Katie Couric. Letterman watched a live TV feed from the studio as McCain’s face was patted with makeup.
 
“Doesn’t seem to be racing to the airport, does he?”
 
“Hey John, I got a question. You need a ride to the airport?”

Controversial Obama ad revives immigration issue

Immigration has been absent from the presidential campaign for months, but it came to the front again this week in a controversial television spot for Barack Obama.

The Democratic presidential candidate sought to cast Republican rival John McCain as an anti-Hispanic hard-liner and link him to talk radio host Rush Limbaugh.

The Spanish language TV ad — dubbed “Dos Cartr220ai.jpgras,” or “Two Faces” — aired on Wednesday. It courted Hispanic voters who make up 9 percent of the electorate and who could help swing the outcome in battleground states in the U.S. southwest as well as in Florida on Nov. 4. 

Hagel questions Palin experience

Sarah Palin has energized the Republican base since John McCain picked her as his vice-presidential running mate, but one prominent Republican is not impressed.hagelobama.jpg

Nebraska Sen. Chuck Hagel, a Republican, is questioning whether Palin has enough foreign-policy experience to serve as the country’s second-in-command. “She doesn’t have any foreign policy credentials,” Hagel told the Omaha World-Herald. “You get a passport for the first time in your life last year? I mean, I don’t know what you can say. You can’t say anything.”

“I think they ought to be just honest about it and stop the nonsense about, ‘I look out my window and I see Russia and so therefore I know something about Russia,” he added. “That kind of thing is insulting to the American people.”

Never mind polls, McCain says he’s still the underdog

mccain16.jpgMIAMI – The polls may show him advancing past Democrat Barack Obama, but Republican John McCain is still holding on to one of his favorite titles: underdog.

The Arizona senator told a Republican fundraising event that raised some $5.1 million on Monday that he and running mate Sarah Palin, the governor of Alaska, were still coming from behind in the race toward the Nov. 4 presidential election.

“We’ve got a strong headwind and we’ve got a lot to do,” he said to a group of donors. “No matter what you see in the polls recently, Governor Palin and I are the underdogs. We’re the underdogs. That’s where we like to be.”

Karl Rove says McCain, Obama have gone too far

rove.jpgJACKSONVILLE, Florida – Take it from an expert. Karl Rove, known as the architect of President George W. Bush’s electoral victories, believes White House candidates John McCain and Barack Obama have gone too far in their attacks on each other.

Rove, speaking on the television program Fox News Sunday, said an ad by the Democratic presidential nominee and Illinois senator criticizing McCain for not being e-mail savvy was unfair.

“His war injuries keep him from being able to use a keyboard. He can’t type. You know, it’s like saying he can’t do jumping jacks,” Rove said of the Arizona senator and former U.S. prisoner of war in Vietnam.

Faith-based community organizers upset by Palin putdown

ST. PAUL – Faith-based community organizers have a message for Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin: they have “actual responsibilities” thank you very much.

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In a pointed barb aimed at Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama, John McCain’s running mate on the Republican ticket said her experiences as a small town mayor in Alaska were far more taxing than that of a community organizer.

Obama was a community organizer in Chicago two decades ago.

A small-town mayor is sort of like a community organizer, except that you have actual responsibilities,” the Alaska governor told the Republican National Convention on Wednesday night in a rousing speech peppered with jabs at Obama.

Barack Obama’s hoppin’ mad over “brew ha ha”

beer.jpgST. PAUL – Barack Obama wants the country to know that he’s a regular, beer-drinking guy. But don’t count on him to throw the first punch in a bar brawl.

During an interview with CBS News’ “60 Minutes” that aired on Sunday, the Democratic presidential nominee bristled when his interviewer implied that he had recently sipped a beer to gain favor with blue-collar voters. CBS’s Steve Kroft added, “I know you don’t particularly like…”

Obama cut off Kroft, saying, “Steve, I had a beer last night. I mean, where do these stories come from man?”