Tales from the Trail

McCain’s VP pick Palin draws boos when mentioning Hillary Clinton

WASHINGTON, Pa. – So maybe saying nice things about Hillary Clinton at a Republican rally isn’t such a good idea.
John McCain’s new vice presidential nominee, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, acknowledged the New York senator on Saturday when reflecting on her new found role as a national candidate.
The reaction from a large chunk of the audience: boos.
“I think as well today of two other women who came before me in national elections, and I can’t begin this great effort without honoring the achievements of Geraldine Ferraro back in 1984 and of course, Senator Hillary Clinton,” Palin said.
palin2.jpgBoo. Boo. Boo.
So much for trying to win over disaffected Clinton supporters. They, apparently, are not turning up to McCain-Palin rallies.
But no matter. The Alaska governor breezed on with a nod to her own historic bid, in Clinton’s wake.
“It was rightly noted in Denver this week that Hillary left 18 million cracks in the highest, hardest glass ceiling in America,” she said. “But thankfully, as it turns out, the women of America aren’t finished yet, and the voters will shatter that glass ceiling once and for all.”
The McCain campaign has made a concerted effort to win over Clinton backers who were upset at her loss in the Democratic primary to Illinois Sen. Barack Obama.
Palin’s presence on the ticket puts the mother of five in line to make history as the first female U.S. vice president if she and McCain beat Obama and his running mate, Delaware Sen. Joe Biden, in the Nov. 4 election.

Photo credit: Reuters/John Gress (Palin campaigns in Washington)

Will Biden help Obama with the Catholic vote?

biden1.jpgDALLAS – With Delaware Senator Joe Biden on the ticket, will Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama make inroads with wavering Catholics in the race for the White House? 
In an election year that has seen both Obama’s campaign and that of his Republican rival John McCain try to woo voters of various faiths it is sure to be a question that pundits will ask in coming days.
Obama on Saturday chose Biden, 65, as his vice presidential running mate, ending days of frenzied speculation.  
Biden, originally from the battleground state of Pennsylvania, will bring not only foreign policy expertise to the ticket — he chairs the Senate Foreign Relations Committee — but strong working-class roots and his Catholic faith.
Catholics had strongly supported Hillary Clinton in her failed bid for the Democratic nomination and a number of polls have shown a fairly close race among Catholics with Obama leading nationally by a small margin.
Conservative Catholics tend to line up with evangelicals on issues like abortion but there are also many liberal Catholics in America who like the Democratic Party on economic issues. 
Almost one-quarter of U.S. adults are Catholic but their electoral clout is somewhat diluted by their distribution.
According to a June report by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate at Georgetown University in Washington, nearly four in 10 U.S. Catholics reside in New York, California and Texas, none of which are closely contested. The first two are solidly Democratic and Texas is Republican.
The report said states “where the Catholic vote could make a real difference are Florida, Ohio and Louisiana.”
Pennsylvania is widely seen as another battleground for the Catholic vote.

Click here for more Reuters 2008 campaign coverage
(Photo credit: REUTERS/Jason Reed. Biden at a Democratic Party Debate in December)

72 Candles and a Running Mate

mccain1.jpgWASHINGTON – Republican White House hopeful John McCain may unwrap a surprise of his own when he celebrates his birthday next week in the battleground state of Ohio.

The Arizona senator turns 72 on Aug. 29 and plans to celebrate by naming his vice presidential pick at a rally in Dayton with 10,000 supporters, Politico.com reported .

McCain spokeswoman Brooke Buchanan would not comment on the report when reporters asked about it after his campaign plane landed in New Orleans on Monday evening.

Cindy McCain’s wrist hurt by a campaign handshake

LIVONIA, Mich. – Republican presidential hopeful Sen. John McCain said on Wednesday that his wife, Cindy, had become the victim of an overenthusiastic

“An individual shook her hand very vigorously at the last event we were at and she has a minor sprain,” McCain told a press conference during a day of fund-raising in this cindy.jpgbattleground state.

Cindy McCain was X-rayed at a local hospital and treated for the sprain.

Appearing beside her husband with her arm in a blue sling, she said she was absolutely fine.

Democratic abortion platform wins points from some pro-lifers

DALLAS – The Democratic Party remains staunchly behind a woman’s right to choose an abortion.

But the platform statement on the issue that will be adopted at the party’s presidential nominating convention in Denver later this month has been well received by some pro-life Christians, who rtr1w5c6.jpgapplaud its emphasis on abortion reduction.

On a conference call Tuesday with journalists, several leading evangelical and Catholic activists welcomed the stress on abortion reduction as the “common ground” between those who support abortion rights and those who oppose them (camps which describe themselves as pro-choice and pro-life).

After attacks, McCain crowd happy not to hear about Obama

ERIE, Pa. – After a week of slamming his opponent in a barrage of controversially negative advertisements, U.S. presidential hopeful John McCain spoke for more than 20 minutes Monday without mentioning Barack Obama by name once. 
His audience seemed to like it.
“I want to hear more about the issues, not bickering between the candidates,” said Ron Holden, a locomotive assembly worker who listened to the Republican senator from Arizona address staff at a large GE Transportation plant here.
“I don’t want to hear about what Obama’s been doing from McCain and I don’t want to hear about McCain from Obama,” said Holden, a registered Democrat who said that he was undecided about which way he would vote in November.
McCain did aim one nuanced blow toward his Democratic rival, recalling Obama’s comment about bitter small town Americans clinging to their guns and their church.
Obama’s rival for the Democratic nomination, Sen. Hillary Clinton, had taunted him over the remark, saying it was evidence he was out of touch with heartland America. McCain gently took a leaf out of her playbook.
“You’re going to seeing a lot of me in this state and we’re going to be on the bus and we’re going to go from town to town, and we’re going to tell people that we know that they love the Second Amendment and cherish their religion, because they believe in America,” McCain said.

Click here for more Reuters 2008 campaign coverage.

Photo credit: Reuters/Brian Snyder (McCain at a July 21 campaign appearance in Maine)

Obama ad fires celebrity charge back at McCain

combo.jpgWashington – Barack Obama is firing back against John McCain’s ad ridiculing the Democratic candidate’s popularity. Obama’s campaign on Monday released a counter attack ad accusing McCain of being “Washington’s biggest celebrity.”

The ad features McCain’s guest appearances on NBC’s comedy show “Saturday Night Live” and on talk shows that usually host celebrity guests.

It is unclear whether the new ad will prompt the kind of news coverage generated by McCain’s ad accusing Obama of being a celebrity like Paris Hilton, but Obama’s hard hitting ad accuses McCain of embracing Washington lobbyists “running his low road campaign.”

Freight Train sleeps through McCain’s whistle-stop tour

DES MOINES, Iowa – Republican presidential candidate John McCain conducted a whistle-stop tour through the Iowa State Fair on Friday but Freight Train was unimpressed.
The Arizona senator did what all politicians do at the fair. He pressed the flesh. He mounted a soapbox, actually a microphone placed behind bales of straw, and munched on some pork chops on a stick.
He may have won some votes when he praised the fair and its 1 million-plus visitors as true to the heartland of America. But he didn’t win over Freight Train.
The prize boar — all 1,259 pounds of him — stayed resolutely asleep throughout his visit, resting his enormous bulk on a bed of sand.
“I saw the new champion and world record-breaker boar, Freight Train. He’s in good health. I can tell you that,” McCain later said at a fund-raiser.
“I lament and had thought with some nostalgia about last year’s winner Big Red who is no longer with us. But perhaps I had part of him in a pepperoni pizza — who knows,” he said.

Click here for more Reuters 2008 campaign coverage.

Photo credit: Reuters/Ilya Naymushin (A wild boar stands in an open cage at a zoo in the Siberian city of Krasnoyark in 2006)

Obama appearance with Bayh spurs VP talk

obama1.jpgPORTAGE, Indiana – A visit by White House hopeful Barack Obama to Indiana set off speculation that he might be leaning toward picking Sen. Evan Bayh as his running mate.

Bayh, an Indiana Democrat, has long been seen as a strong candidate for the No. 2 slot on the Democratic ticket.

Like Obama, Bayh has an even temperament, but he would also bring to the ticket foreign policy experience as a member of the Armed Services and Intelligence committees. As a former governor, Bayh also has executive experience.

Bloomberg-led group pushes McCain, Obama on guns

bloomberg.jpgNEW YORK CITY -  A bipartisan group of 325 U.S. mayors on Wednesday sent a questionnaire to the U.S. presidential candidates, challenging them to take “common sense steps” to tighten the background check system for gun buyers.

Republican presidential candidate John McCain and his Democratic rival Barack Obama have until Sept. 8 to respond to the six questions, the group said.

“Illegal guns are used to murder 34 Americans every day, and we deserve to hear from those who seek the presidency what they will do to keep guns out of the hands of criminals,” said New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, a coalition founder.