Tales from the Trail

Lets Talk About Spain, Or Not

WASHINGTON - John McCain’s campaign insists the Republican presidential candidate’s response to an interviewer’s question about Spain’s Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero was neither a gaffe nor a dodge.
 
McCain knew exactly what he was saying, a campaign spokesman said on Thursday.
 
In the interview this week on Radio Caracol in Miami, McCain was askedmccain.jpg about Latin America and South America and then the reporter moved on to Spain and questioned him about meeting with Zapatero.
 
“I would be willing to meet with those leaders who are friends and want to work with us in a cooperative fashion. And, by the way, President Calderon of Mexico is fighting a very very tough fight against the drug cartels. I intend to move forward with relations and invite as many of them as I can, of those leaders, to the White House,” McCain responded.
 
McCain was well aware that the reporter had moved on to another leader in another hemisphere, senior campaign advisor Randy Scheunemann said.
 
“The questioner asked several times about Sen. McCain’s willingness to meet Zapatero, and I-D’d him in the question so there is no doubt Sen. McCain knew exactly to whom the question referred,” Scheunemann said.
 
“Sen. McCain refused to commit to a White House meeting with President Zapatero in this interview,” Scheunemann said.
 
Within weeks of taking office in 2004, Zapatero withdrew Spanish troops serving in Iraq. The move by Spain’s Socialist government put a chill on relations between Washington and Madrid.

Click here for more Reuters 2008 campaign coverage

Photo credit: Reuters/Aaron Josefczyk

Obama takes on Clinton’s “electability” argument

obama3.jpg DURHAM, N.C. – Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama took aim on Monday at his rival Hillary Clinton’s argument that he is less electable than her given his recent series of troubles and because he has not been fully “vetted.”

Amid a flap over comments from his pastor, Rev. Jeremiah Wright, and other controversies, Obama has seen his poll numbers slide lately against both Clinton and the Republican candidate for November’s election, John McCain.

Obama publicly denounced Wright last week after the pastor moved back into the spotlight and repeated his inflammatory charges that the Sept. 11 attacks were in part retribution for U.S. policy and that the government spread AIDS to harm blacks.

Gingrich: Obama is ‘far left’ with the right smile

 INDIANAPOLIS – Former Republican House Speaker Newt Gingrich says Barack Obama remains the best bet to become the Democratic presidential nominee and would be a formidable opponent for Republican John McCain.
   

Speaking to the French Sunday newspaper Le Journal du Dimanche, Gingrich said McCain had benefited from Obama’s recent difficulties, including controversial comments by the Illinois senator’s longtime pastor, Rev. Jeremiah Wright. 
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“But Obama remains a formidable opponent. He is also the most probable Democrat nominee, even if he is not as untouchable as he was before,” said Gingrich, who led his party’s takeover of the House of Representatives in what was known as the Republican Revolution of 1994.

‘Why can’t I just eat my waffle?’

obama-in-pa.jpgSCRANTON, Pa. – Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama kicked off a day of campaigning in Pennsylvania by dropping by a Scranton diner for a breakfast of waffles, sausage and orange juice.
 
But the press corps went hungry — hungry for an answer that is.
 
The Illinois senator brushed aside a question from one reporter on his reaction to former President Jimmy Carter’s description of a positive meeting with leaders of the Islamist Palestinian group Hamas.
 
“Why can’t I just eat my waffle?” Obama replied.
    
Reporters traveling with the Illinois senator, fighting with his Democratic rival Hillary Clinton over Pennsylvania ahead of its vote on Tuesday, are venting frustration over a lack of access to the candidate lately. Obama has not held a press availability in 10 days, though he has given dozens of interviews to local press in Pennyslvania.
    
Republicans have pounced on Obama’s “waffle” comment, suggesting he is evading tough questions.
    
“Today, Obama continued to dodge questions from the media, responding that he just wanted to eat his waffle,” the Republican National Committee said in an email sent to reporters that included press accounts of the waffle incident at the Glider diner.
    
Both Obama and Clinton are far less accessible to the media than presumptive Republican nominee John McCain, known for holding lengthy question-and-answer sessions with reporters on his Straight Talk Express bus.
    
The sessions last so long that some reporters say they run out of questions.

Click here for more Reuters 2008 campaign coverage

Photo credit: Reuters/Tim Shaffer (Obama greets Pennsylvania supporter)

Philly supporters to Obama: pay up

Democratic candidate Barack Obama, who has built his candidacy on the promise of a “new kind of politics,” has run up against the old kind of politics in Philadelphia.

obamaspeakThe Los Angeles Times reports that Obama’s refusal to pay “street money” to volunteers in Pennsylvania’s largest city may cost him support in the state’s April 22 primary.

Local party leaders in Philadelphia expect candidates to deliver cash to help them get out the vote, the Times says. Teens who hand out leaflets typically get a $10 bill, while more experienced volunteers can get up to $100. The total for America’s sixth-largest city could come to $500,000.

Powell not necessarily in McCain’s corner

Colin Powell was President George W. Bush’s first secretary of state, but that doesn’t necessarily mean he’s supporting the presidential bid of fellow Republican John McCain.

“I’m looking at all three candidates, I know them all very, very well, I consider myself a friend of each and every one of them, and I have not decided who I will vote for yet,” Powell said on ABC’s “Good Morning America.”

Powell, like McCain, is a military veteran who publicly supported the invasion of Iraq in 2003, and he served as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff during the first Gulf War in 1991.powell.jpg

McCain’s Veep? The clear favorite is … nobody

WASHINGTON — Speculation about who would make a good vice presidential running mate for Republican John McCain ranges all the way from party also-rans Mike Huckabee and Mitt Romney to Democrat Bill Richardson. But a new Gallup survey shows the largest bloc of rank-and-file Republicans — 31 percent — are those who cannot name a candidate for the job.

mccainflagThe next biggest group, 21 percent, prefer the choice marked “other.”

Huckabee and Romney, who were both defeated by McCain in the Republican presidential primary race, led the pack of named choices with 18 percent and 15 percent, respectively, in the telephone survey conducted March 24-27.

Obama: the Stones fan who would be (like) Lincoln

WASHINGTON – Democratic voters in Pennsylvania are hearing all about presidential hopeful Barack Obama’s views on issues like Iraq and the economy — but where does he stand on those small but all-important, getting-to-know-you questions?

For instance, does the Illinois senator prefer the Beatles or the Rolling Stones? “Rolling Stones,” he answered without hesitation in a Tuesday interview with NBC’s “Today Show.”obamachange

And he went on in rapid-fire succession, not shying away even from his recent underwhelming performance in a Pennsylvania bowling alley.