Tales from the Trail

McCain: Quality of candidates makes VP search tough

ALBUQUERQUE – Republican presidential candidate John McCain said Tuesday his search for a vice presidential running mate is proving difficult because he has many qualified candidates.

rtr1ytqq.jpgA host of high-profile names have been circulating for weeks who McCain might be considering for vice president, including former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, Florida Gov. Charlie Crist and Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty.

At a town hall meeting in Albuquerque, McCain specifically took a question from a youngster described as a reporter, and the youth asked him about his vice presidential search.

McCain said the search “is somewhat difficult because we have so many highly qualified individuals” to consider.

He gave no names. But he said he was operating under a specific timeline that he hopes to meet “well before.”

Obama doesn’t appreciate “Ho” joke at fundraiser

bernie-mac-2.jpgCHICAGO – Barack Obama faced a potentially sticky moment on Friday when comedian Bernie Mac told a joke about “hos” at a fundraiser for him but the Democratic White House hopeful quickly told him to clean up his act.

The Chicago-born comedian and actor told what he said was a joke about his nephew coming to him and asking the difference between a hypothetical question and a realistic question.

To demonstrate the difference, he tells the nephew to go ask his mother if she would make love to the mailman for $50,000. The mother says she would make love to the mailman and anybody else for $50,000.

Clinton and Obama as Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire?

clintonobama.jpgNEW YORK – Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama as Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire — that’s how Sen. Clinton put it on Thursday at a women’s breakfast where she joined the Democratic White House hopeful to campaign for him in New York.

She said Obama had noted that she looked rested since she ended her campaign against him for the Democratic nomination, and she told him she’d been exercising for a change.

“During the campaign …  Barack would get up faithfully every morning and go to the gym. I would get up and have my hair done,” she said as she introduced him.

Obama tops McCain on executive skills test, leadership guru says

WASHINGTON – When it comes to critical leadership characteristics, Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama tops Republican rival John McCain hands down, according to a self-styled business leadership guru.

rtx7r3s.jpgJohn McKee, a founder of DirecTV who now works as an author, motivational speaker and career coach, says Obama outscores McCain when judged against 10 critical characteristics of great leaders, such as knowing what you stand for, helping others succeed, being a good listener and being honest and ethical.
 
Of the 10 leadership characterists he judged most critical, McKee said Obama outranked McCain on seven and tied him on the other three. McCain did not outrank Obama on any of the 10 measures of leadership, McKee said.
 
Here are McKee’s leadership rankings and scores. Has he got it right? How would you judge the two presidential candidates?
 
1 – Great leaders run their businesses with purpose, clearly knowing their values, goartx7ra1.jpgls and objectives. Obama beats McCain.
 
2 – Great leaders help others to succeed. Obama beats McCain.
 
3 – Great leaders give back to the community. Obama-McCain tie.
 
4 – Great leaders are willing and able to overcome daunting obstacles to achieve their goals. Obama-McCain tie.
 
5 – Great leaders are also great listeners. Obama beats McCain.
 
6 – Great leaders appreciate face-to-face dialogue. Obama beats McCain.
 
7 – Great leaders are honest and ethical. Obama beats McCain.
 
8 – Great leaders understand the difference between power and force. Obama beats McCain.
 
9 – Great leaders excel in difficult environments and get results. Obama-McCain tie.
 
10 – Great leaders continually upgrade their skills. Obama beats McCain.

Click here for more Reuters 2008 campaign coverage.

Photo credit: Top: Reuters/Tami Chappell (Obama speaks in Powder Springs, Georgia, on Tuesday). Bottom: Reuters/Jonathan Ernst (McCain addresses Latin American citizens group in Washington on Tuesday)

McCain says Bush should not be impeached

DENVER – Republican presidential candidate John McCain may be distancing himself from George W. Bush, but the Arizona senator rtx68cn.jpgdoes not believe his would-be predecessor should be impeached.

Pressed about the issue by a young voter at a lively question and answer session in Colorado Monday, McCain, who voted “guilty” in Democratic President Bill Clinton’s impeachment trial, said he did not believe Bush should be removed from office.

“I do not believe that an effort to impeach the president of the United States is appropriate or necessary or called for,” McCain said.

Talk about timing for McCain’s trip south of the border

WASHINGTON – Republican presidential hopeful John McCain, who often invokes former President Ronald Reagan, had an almost Reaganesque moment this week — a hostage rescue.
 
rtx7jmk.jpgHours after McCain left Colombia, where he had spent the day pushing free trade, that country’s president Alvaro Uribe revealed the military had freed several hostages, including three Americans, long held captive by the militant group FARC.
 
Just minutes after Reagan took office in 1981, coincidentally, the American hostages in Iran were released.
 
Sadly for those conspiracy theorists wondering whether McCain had a role in the Colombia rescue or was tipped off about it before he arrived in the country, signs suggest otherwise.
 
McCain said in a statement that he had been briefed by Uribe the day before the operation and that the two later spoke about it.
 
“He told me some of the details of the dramatic rescue of the people who were held hostage,” McCain said.
 
While the United States helped with some aspects of the operation, White House spokeswoman Dana Perino denied any suggestion that McCain was advised by his fellow Republicans in the Bush administration.
 
“I think this was long in the planning stages,” she told reporters. I’ve heard nothing to suggest that there was any connection,” she told reporters. “I just think it was coincidence.”

Click here for more Reuters 2008 campaign coverage.  

Photo credit: Reuters/Jose Gomez (McCain and Uribe at news conference July 1)

McCain makes mountaintop journey to visit Billy Graham

billy-graham.jpgMONTREAT, N.C. – Billy Graham is as close to a religious icon in American politics as anyone, so it’s no surprise that a U.S. presidential candidate would seek his blessing.

On Sunday Republican John McCain did just that, essentially, traveling to the ailing evangelist’s mountaintop home to meet and pray with him and son Franklin, who heads the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.

“They’re great leaders in this nation and I appreciate the opportunity to visit with them and I am very grateful for the time they spent with me,” McCain said after their meeting.

McCain says: “Obama’s word cannot be trusted”

mccain-pic.jpgLOUISVILLE, Ky. – Can people trust what Barack Obama says?

Republican presidential candidate John McCain said on Saturday that, at least in some instances, they shouldn’t.

Campaign finance was the issue at hand. McCain, speaking at a Republican fundraiser that netted some $2 million, slammed the Illinois senator and presumptive Democratic nominee for going back on a promise to take public funds during the general election if his Republican counterpart did the same.

“This election is about trust and trusting people’s word,” McCain said. “Unfortunately, apparently on several items, Senator Obama’s word cannot be trusted.”

Obama raps McCain adviser over terrorism comment

LOS ANGELES – Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama on Tuesday criticized a John McCain adviser who was quoted as saying a Sept. 11-type attack before the November election would benefit the Republican White House hopeful.
 obama24.jpg
But Obama stopped short of calling for the firing of Charlie Black, McCain’s top political adviser.
 
“There are certain things that should transcend politics and the prospect of a terrorist attack on American soil is one of them,” Obama told reporters on his campaign plane while traveling to Los Angeles.
 
“I think, factually, he’s wrong,” Obama said. He called the foreign policy under Republicans in the last few years disastrous and cited the failure to catch al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden and renewed violence in Afghanistan as examples.
 
“So I’m happy to have that debate about who is actually going to be stronger on terrorism,” Obama said.
 
Fortune magazine said Black, in discussing how national security was McCain’s strong suit, had said when asked about another terrorist attack on U.S. soil that “certainly it would be a big advantage to him.”
 
Black apologized for the remarks and McCain disavowed the comment. “I cannot imagine why he would say it. It’s not true,” McCain said, adding he had worked hard since the Sept. 11 attack to prevent another such attack.
 
Obama, pressed on whether Black should step down from his role advising McCain, said, “I leave it up to John McCain.”

Click here for more Reuters 2008 campaign coverage.

Picture credit: Reuters/Steve Marcus. Obama speaks during a campaign visit to the Las Vegas Springs Preserve in Las Vegas, Nevada, June 24, 2008.

Can Barack Obama collar the Blue Dogs’ vote?

Barack Obama’s White House bid could depend on guys like Allen Boyd.
 
To be sure, this 63-year-old white, Florida farmer is not the protoypical rtx73g1.jpgsupporter of the drive by the 46-year-old liberal to become the first black U.S. president.
 
But Boyd, who also happens to be a Democratic congressman, seems to be edging in Obama’s direction, citing economic and foreign policy reasons.
 
Obama “adheres to fiscal responsibility,” Boyd says and on foreign policy he’s “sort of out front on that about how we change the direction of this country.”
 
At the same time, Boyd says Obama likely has an uphill battle to win Florida, a likely crucial battleground.
 
“I would say if you look at the history of the last few presidential elections, it would be very difficult for him (Obama) to win,” Boyd said. He added, “Obama has a very tough bore in districts like the one I represent” in Florida’s panhandle.
 
In an interview taped on Friday for C-SPAN’s “Newsmakers,” Boyd, a six-term lawmaker, said he has no plans to endorse Obama, explaining he never endorses presidential candidates.
 
But when asked if there was any chance he would end up supporting Republican presidential candidate John McCain, Boyd said, “From what I see right now from a policy perspective, I’d say no.”
 
Boyd is a leading member of a group in the U.S. House of Representatives known as “Blue Dogs,” lawmakers who think government spending is out-of-control. They’re known for their independent streak within the Democratic Party and for holding  up legislation, such as an Iraq war spending bill, to insist that popular add-ons costing billions of dollars be paid for.
 
Given the difficulty pigeonholing these lawmakers, it’s been an open question if they — and voters in the conservative districts many of them represent — will back Obama.

Click here for more Reuters 2008 campaign coverage. 

Photo credit: Reuters/Jim Bourg (Barack Obama at Washington news conference June 18)