Tales from the Trail

Obama touts work, patriotism in TV ad

WASHINGTON — Barack Obama touts hard work and “heartland values” in his first TV ad of the general election, which will air in several Republican-leaning states.

“America is a country of strong families and strong values. My life’s been blessed by both,” the Democratic says in this one-minute spot, which emphasizes his humble roots.


Like Republican rival John McCain ‘s first national ad, it’s a soft-focus introduction for voters who may not be familiar with his background.

It will air in 18 states, including many that haven’t voted Republican in recent presidential elections — Alaska, Indiana, Montana, North Carolina, North Dakota and Virginia.

Michelle Obama getting more negative coverage than Cindy McCain?

WASHINGTON – Americans are hearing a lot more about Michelle Obama than Cindy McCain, but the news they get about the Democratic presidential candidate’s wife is far more negative than what they hear about thertr209pf.jpg spouse of the Republican candidate, according to a study.
The study by the Pew Research Center for People and the Press found that 30 percent of Americans said they had heard a lot about the wife of Democratic presidential contender Barack Obama, while only 9 percent reported hearing a lot about Cindy McCain, the spouse of Republican candidate John McCain.
Seventy-eight percent said they had heard at least a little about Michelle Obama, while only 54 percent reported hearing at least a little about Cindy McCain, the study found.
Michelle Obama has been more heavily covered by the news media than Cindy McCain. Between Jan. 1 and June 15, Obama has been a significant newsmaker in 102 stories, while McCain has appeared in just 28 stories, according to the Pew Project for Excellence in Journalism.
In evaluating the coverage of the two candidates’ wives, about half of those questioned said the news had been a mixture of positive and negative.
But people were much more likely to say the news they had been hearing about Michelle Obama was mostly negative. About 26 percent said Obama’s coverage had been mostly negative, while 21 percent said it had been mostly positive.
Thirty-one percent said the news about Cindy McCain had been mostly positive, while only 7 percent said it had been mostly negative.
Republicans were much more likely to say the news about Obama had been mostly negative. Thirty-three percent found that to be the case, while only 10 percent of Republicans said coverage of the Democratic candidate’s wife had been mostly positive.

What do you think — has Michelle Obama been getting rougher treatment from the news media than Cindy McCain? Or are they being treated equally?

Click here for more Reuters 2008 campaign coverage.

Photo credit:  Top: Reuters/Chris Keane (Barack and Michelle Obama in Raleigh May 6); Bottom: Reuters/Mike Stone (John and Cindy McCain in Dallas March 4)

McCain, praising Texas leaders, almost “forgets” Bush

DALLAS – It’s tough to think of everybody sometimes.

Republican presidential candidate John McCain held a fundraiser in Dallas on Monday and kicked off his remarks by praising many of the leaders that Texas had produced.

There was Kay Bailey Hutchison, a fellow senator who accompanied McCain on his plane from Washington.

John Tower got a shout-out, as did Phil Gramm, who McCain described as his dearest friend and the smartest senator he had ever known.

McCain: It can be “tough” to be proud of USA

mccainus.jpg WASHINGTON – Republican presidential candidate John McCain admitted on Saturday it can be difficult at times to be proud of the United States.
“I’ll admit to you … that it’s tough in some respects,” McCain said when asked by a questioner at a town hall meeting how to be proud of the country.
“We have not always done things right and we mismanaged the war in Iraq very badly for nearly four years.”
McCain’s wife, Cindy, pounced on Michelle Obama, the wife of presumptive Democratic nominee Barack Obama, for saying in February that she was proud of her country “for the first time in my adult life.”
The Arizona senator said it was important for the United States to be more humble and inclusive.
“I think we can be proud of America because of what we’ve achieved and accomplished in this world,” he said.
“What we have to do is tell our friends around the world that we will be proud of America because of what we’re going to do.”

Click here for more Reuters 2008 campaign coverage.

 - Photo credit: Reuters/Shannon Stapleton (McCain speaks during a town hall meeting at Federal Hall in New York on June 12). 

Knives, guns? Obama says ready for a good brawl

PHILADELPHIA - Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama, who regularly uses language to reinforce his modern-guy credentials, seems to have set  that aside when he explained how he won’t be cowed by Republican attacks. knives.jpg“If they bring a knife to the fight, we bring a gun,” Obama said at a fund-raiser in Philadelphia on Friday, employing a phrase that could have been lifted from a gangster movie. ”Because from what I understand, folks in Philly like a good brawl. I’ve seen Eagles fans,” he said, referring to the city’s  football team. The Republican Party quickly responded that the comment undermined Obama’s claim to represent change. ”Why is Barack Obama so negative? In the last 24 hours, he’s completely abandoned his campaign’s call for ‘new politics’, equating the election to a ‘brawl’ and promising to ‘bring a gun’,” said Republican National Committee spokesman Alex Conant. ”It’s clear Obama is going on the attack to distract from the fact that since winning the nomination, his friend and fund-raiser, Tony Rezko, was convicted, and his vice presidential vetter, Jim Johnson, was forced to resign,” Conant said. The punch and counterpunch suggest another tough-guy phrase that has slipped into the political dialogue: “Bring ‘em on.”Click here for more Reuters 2008 campaign coverage.Photo credit: Reuters /Luke MacGregor (Knives are on display at New Scotland Yard in London on May 29, 2008)

Pennsylvania governor says he drank Obama Kool-Aid

rendell.jpgPHILADELPHIA – One of the most ardent supporters of Hillary Clinton’s bid for the Democratic presidential nomination has disclosed the secret behind his now public support of Barack Obama: he drank the Kool-Aid.
Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell, who often accused reporters of having “drunk the Obama Kool-Aid” during the nominating process, said he now has had some of the sweet drink himself.
At a fund-raising event on Friday, just a week after Clinton pulled out of the Democratic race, Rendell said that Obama supporters had brought him a big carton of Kool-Aid and told him to “drink up” when Obama became the nominee.
“I gave Senator Clinton $1,500 in the primary so I thought just for old-time sake I’d give Senator Obama $1,499,” Rendell said, sparking scattered boos from the crowd.
Rendell calmed them by saying “that was before I drank the Kool-Aid.” He said he has a check for $2,300 to give to the Obama campaign. 

Click here for more Reuters 2008 campaign coverage.

Photo credit: Reuters/Tim Shaffer (Clinton and Rendell share a laugh during a campaign event in Scranton, Pennsylvania, in March)

Condoms named after Obama and McCain selling fast

obamamccain.jpgNEW YORK - A Manhattan entrepreneur has found his own way to profit from the U.S. presidential race – putting the candidates’ faces on condom packages.

Benjamin Sherman has been selling condoms named after Democrat Barack Obama and Republican John McCain around the world for several weeks through a business called Practice Safe Policy.

The Obama Condom packages read: “Use with good judgment” and the product’s Web site  reads: “Who says experience is necessary?”

McCain, Obama on pocketbook issues — their own

WASHINGTON – If the way someone runs their household accounts is any indication of how they would run the federal government’s, voters might want to look at rtx6ung.jpgthe financial disclosure statements released Friday by White House contenders John McCain and Barack Obama.

Presumptive Republican presidential nominee McCain has earned a reputation in the U.S. Congress as a conservative fiscal watchdog.

Yet he and his wife, Cindy, racked up at least $210,000 in credit card debt last year, according to his Senate financial disclosure form.

McCain the reluctant hero inspires young

mccain-hero.jpgNEW YORK – Republican John McCain, who spent several years in a prison camp in Vietnam and declined offers to be released before his comrades, said on Thursday he did not consider himself a hero. 

Modesty? Say what you will about the Arizona senator, but he appears to sincerely feel that way. 

Which is why the question continues to come up. At fundraisers and town hall meetings, supporters — especially younger people — ask the 71-year-old why he doesn’t spend more time talking about his own personal story.

Age trumps youth for Italy’s Berlusconi

ROME – Age does matter, at least to Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, in the U.S. presidential race between 46-year-old Democrat Barack Obama and 71-year-old Republican John McCain.
Asked about the U.S. election as he stood with Republican President George W. Bush at a news conference in Rome, the  Italian leader said he could not express any preference about an election campaign going on in another country.
But Berlusconi could not resist expressing a personal preference for the Republican candidate.
“This is for a very selfish reason, and that is that I would no longer be the oldest person at the upcoming G8 (summit), because McCain is a month older than me,” Berlusconi said.

The Arizona senator, who turns 72 in August, would be the oldest elected first-term president if he wins the November election.

The G8 summit takes place next month in Japan.

Click here for more Reuters 2008 campaign coverage

Photo credit: Reuters/Jason Reed (Berlusconi gestures during a news conference in Rome, June 12, 2008)