Tales from the Trail

Obama agrees to 3 debates with McCain

baracl.jpgORLANDO, Fla. – Democrat Barack Obama agreed on Saturday to a formal proposal for three presidential debates and one vice presidential debate, effectively scuttling Republican White House rival John McCain’s hopes for a series of one-on-one town hall meetings.
 
Obama campaign manager David Plouffe informed the Commission on Presidential Debates of the decision, which proposed the schedule, in a letter. Illinois Rep. Rahm Emanuel will represent the campaign in talks on the format and details.
 
The late conventions and short period before the first debate — the Republican convention ends on Sept. 4 and the first debate is scheduled for Sept. 26 — made it “likely” the four debates proposed by the commission “will be the sole series of debates in the fall campaign,” Plouffe wrote.
 
McCain had suggested the two candidates could appear together at a series of town-hall meetings, but negotiations between the two sides never produced an agreement.
 
The McCain campaign used the decision to take another poke at Obama’s “celebrity” image.
 
“We understand it might be beneath a worldwide celebrity of Barack Obama’s magnitude to appear at town hall meetings alongside John McCain and directly answer questions from the American people, but we hope he’ll reconsider,” spokesman Brian Rogers said.

Click here for more Reuters 2008 campaign coverage

Photo credit: Reuters/Scott Audette (Obama laughs alongside Marc Morial, president and CEO of the National Urban League in Orlando, Florida, on Aug. 2, 2008)

How to choose a VP? For McCain, rule one is “do no harm”

mccain-vp.jpgBAKERSFIELD, Calif.  – John McCain may not be giving any clues about who he wants as his No. 2, but the Republican presidential candidate does have a few ideas about how to choose. 

Rule one: Do no harm. 

“First, you want to make sure you have a candidate that’s not going to hurt the ticket,” the Arizona senator told a fundraising event webcast to American citizens in Bermuda.

“The second thing is, and I think it’s the key criteria, is it someone who shares your principles, your values, your philosophy and your priorities? Hardest thing for the president is to establish priorities.”

Former smoker McCain talks cigarettes, cancer with Lance Armstrong

posterobamamccain.jpgCOLUMBUS, Ohio – Republican John McCain  added a pledge on Thursday to his list of goals if he wins the White House: help people quit smoking. 

McCain, who smoked two packs of cigarettes a day before ceasing 29 years ago, told a summit organized by cyclist and cancer survivor Lance Armstrong that preventive measures were key to keeping people healthy. 

“So as president, I will work with business and insurance companies in support of programs to help people quit smoking,” he said. 

Obama’s Berlin speech echoes Democratic victory address

BERLIN – White House hopeful Barack Obama’s speech in Berlin urging Europeans to do more to help confront global security threats included some echoes of another Obama speech: the one he gave on June 3 when he clinched the Democratic nomination.

rtx8398.jpgAddressing more than 200,000 people in Berlin’s Tiergarten Park, Obama pressed Europe to stand with the United States in helping to stabilize Afghanistan and send a “direct” message to Iran to abandon its nuclear weapons ambitions.

“This is the moment when we must renew our resolve to rout the terrorists who threaten our security in Afghanistan, and the traffickers who sell drugs on your streets,” Obama said.  “This is the moment we must help answer the call for a new dawn in the Middle East.”

As Obama heads to Germany, Republicans appeal to U.S. Berliners

WASHINGTON – With Democrat Barack Obama trying to look presidential abroad and soon to face friendly crowds in the German capital, the Republican National Committee has decided to strike back by appealing to Berliners closer to home.
rtr20gha.jpg 
The party will air radio advertisements Thursday in Berlin, Pa., Berlin, Wis., and Berlin, N.H., bashing Obama’s voting record on defense issues, accusing him of choosing “Washington politics over the needs of our military.”
 
“Obama said that nobody wanted to play chicken with our troops on the ground,” an announcer intones. “But when it came time to act, he voted against critical resources: no to individual body armor, no to helicopters, no to ammunition, no to aircraft.”

The ad is a rehash of claims made in a television spot being aired by Obama’s rival Republican presidential candidate John McCain. FactCheck.org, in reviewing those claims, said the statements “are literally true but paint an incomplete picture.”
 
It is true Obama voted against a war-funding bill last year after President George W. Bush initially vetoed a version that contained a date for withdrawal from Iraq, the independent monitoring group said. Before that, Obama had cast at least 10 votes for war-funding bills, it said.

Obama’s campaign dismissed the ad as “distasteful and misleading.”
 
The RNC attacks are unlikely to dampen enthusiasm for Obama when he arrives Thursday in Berlin, Germany. A recent poll by the Bild newspaper found 72 percent of Germans would vote for Obama over McCain if they had a vote in U.S. elections.
 
Even German Chancellor Angela Merkel, a Bush friend who expressed displeasure over electioneering ahead of Obama’s visit, professed herself an admirer, telling reporters she thought the Democratic presidential candidate was “well-equipped — physically, mentally and politically.” 

McCain says Obama would rather lose a war than lose an election

mccainbushsr.jpgEPPING, New Hampshire – Though his rival may be on another continent at the moment, John McCain isn’t holding back from taking shots against Barack Obama

 The Republican presidential candidate came out on Tuesday with one of his sharpest attacks yet on Obama’s policies regarding the Iraq war, shortly after the Illinois senator wrapped up a visit to Baghdad. 

McCain pounded the Democratic presidential hopeful for opposing an increase in U.S. troop levels in Iraq — known as the “surge” — which has been credited with helping stabilize the country. 

Comedian’s challenge aims to give McCain an excitement lift

When Republican presidential contender John McCain delivered a speech in front of a green backdrop in June, comedian Stephen Colbert decided the Arizona senator’s campaign could use a bit more excitement.

Colbert, of Comedy Central’s “The Colbert Report,” issued the “Green Screen Challenge” to his viewers, urging them to take stock footage of McCain’s speech and turn  it into something more exciting.

Since then videos portraying McCain have been piling up on the YouTube and ColbertNation Web sites. He’s seen as a pelvis-twisting Elvis, a character in Star Trek and a model in a Madonna video, among other things. He even appears as Colbert himself.

Is the media in love with Obama?

Republican presidential hopeful John McCain apparently feels just a little jilted by the media lately given all the attention being paid to the trip by Democratic White House rival Barack Obama to Iraq, Afghanistan, the Middle East and Europe.rtr20ejl.jpg

All three broadcast networks sent their anchors overseas to interview Obama during his travels. McCain has been maintaining his domestic campaign schedule, raising money and attending rallies in Maine, New Hampshire and Pennsylvania.
 
McCain this week also tussled with the New York Times over an opinion piece he penned to respond to an op-ed Obama wrote about the Iraq war that ran in the newspaper. The Times sought revisions to his proposed piece, a request that McCain’s campaign rejected.

rtr20fea.jpg
“The media is in love with Barack Obama,” the McCain campaign said in an e-mail to his supporters. “If it wasn’t so serious, it would be funny.”
 
To generate a little of his own buzz, the Arizona senator’s campaign pieced together clips of television news talking heads (lots of MSNBC’s Chris Matthews) professing how enamored they were of Obama and discussing the media’s purported love affair with the Democratic candidate.
 
They put the video to the music of two different love songs — Frankie Valli’s “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You” and “My Eyes Adored You.” They asked supporters to vote for their favorite, and the campaign said the winning one would be aired.
 
Is the media infatuated with Obama or covering a legitimate news story?

Bush Sr. praises McCain, muses about history and his son

KENNEBUNKPORT, Maine – Former President George H.W. Bush doesn’t advise his son, won’t criticize Barack Obama and wants John McCain to be the next occupant of the White House.

That was the gist on Monday after he hosted the presumptive Republican presidential candidate at the lush Bush family compound in Maine.

Bush, the 41st president of the United States, had nothing but praise for McCain, the man he hopes will succeed his son, George W. Bush.

Two potential VP picks to join Obama at Indiana event

obama.jpgCHICAGO – Democratic U.S. presidential candidate Barack Obama is determined to keep his process for choosing a running mate a closely guarded secret, but he will appear in public on Wednesday with two men, Evan Bayh and Sam Nunn, who are widely thought to be under consideration for the No. 2 slot.

Bayh, an Indiana senator, and Nunn, a former Georgia senator, will appear with Obama at an event in Lafayette, Indiana that will focus on national security.
The event, billed as a “Summit on Confronting 21st Century Threats,” will cover such topics as nuclear non-proliferation, bioterrorism, cyber security and emerging national security threats, the Obama campaign said.

The Lafayette appearance comes a day after Obama renewed his call for an end to the Iraq war in a speech in Washington in which he urged the United States to refocus attention on Afghanistan and other national security priorities.