Tales from the Trail

Charlotte’s web catches Democratic convention

It’s Charlotte for the 2012 Democratic national political convention.

Democrats picked the banking center and Republicans chose Tampa, Florida, for their convention — highlighting the importance of the South to winning the White House next year. ROUTE-RECOVERY/

In the 2008 election, Obama became the first Democrat to win North Carolina — by about 14,000 votes over Republican candidate John McCain –  since President Jimmy Carter in 1976.

First lady Michelle Obama, in a letter to Democrats, described Charlotte as a city “marked by its southern charm, warm hospitality, and an ‘up by the bootstraps’ mentality that has propelled the city forward as one of the fastest-growing in the South. Vibrant, diverse, and full of opportunity, the Queen City is home to innovative, hardworking folks with big hearts and open minds. And of course, great barbecue.”

Queen City is a reference to German Princess Charlotte of Mecklenburg who was the wife of  British King George III.

It is also nicknamed “The Hornet’s Nest” from the American Revolutionary War when British General Cornwallis, after being driven out by residents, complained that Charlotte was “a veritable hornet’s nest of rebellion.”

Romney still hasn’t decided on a White House run … right?

USA-POLITICS/ROMNEYMitt Romney hasn’t decided whether to run for president. But of course that doesn’t mean he’s not.

Romney, who unsuccessfully sought the Republican nomination in 2008, tells ABC’s Good Morning America that a formal decision about a possible White House run is still “down the road.”

“I’m not a candidate. I’m just having fun,” is the former Massachusetts governor’s laughing explanation about why he wasn’t wearing a necktie on national TV.

Former Senator Allen trying for a comeback, but he’s got competition

Former Republican Senator George Allen is trying for a comeback for the Senate seat from Virginia that he narrowly lost to Democrat Jim Webb in 2006, following comments that critics said were racist.

USA ELECTIONS“Friends, it’s time for an American comeback,” Allen said in a video on his website. “Today, I’m announcing my candidacy for the U.S. Senate. You know me as someone willing to fight for the people of Virginia and I would like the responsibility to fight for you again.”

He promised a campaign for the 2012 election based on “foundational” principles that included reining in government spending and creating jobs.

Obama approval ratings on the rise

Forget November’s election “shellacking,” at least for now. Things are looking up for President Barack Obama.

OBAMA/A flurry of new opinion polls show Obama’s approval ratings climbing above 50 percent for the first time in months, fueled by growing public confidence in the economy and a positive reaction to his response to the Arizona shootings and the spurt of bipartisan accomplishment in Congress in December.

An ABC News/Washington Post poll published earlier this week put Obama’s approval at 54 percent, up five percentage points since December, and an NBC/Wall Street Journal poll had him at 53 percent, up eight percentage points in a month.

2012 possibility? The candidate speaks Mandarin

President Barack Obama was asked bluntly about the buzz that his Ambassador to China may turn into a Republican rival for the White House in 2012.

A Newsweek article about Ambassador Jon Huntsman has been seen by some as hinting at a potential run for the White House by the former Republican governor of  Utah.

CHINA/Obama responded with praise and humor to the question posed at a news conference with Chinese President Hu Jintao.

Obama up, Palin down in 2012 poll

President Barack Obama’s reelection prospects seem to be rosier, while former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin’s chances of being the Republican nominee were souring for 2012, according to a CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll. But it’s early yet.

USA-ELECTION/Obama is expected to run again in 2012, and CNN said the poll suggests that his tax-cut deal with Republicans, pushed through at year-end, did not hurt him with Democrats.

Among Democrats, 78 percent said Obama should be renominated as the party’s presidential candidate, while 19 percent said they wanted a different candidate. Those readings were the highest and lowest respectively since March 2010, when the poll first asked the question.

Palin: White House decision months away

USA/Sarah Palin said in an interview aired on Friday that she is months away from deciding on a run for president but would not be fazed by weak poll numbers if she chose to seek the Republican Party nomination.

“It’s a prayerful consideration,” the former Alaska governor and 2008 vice presidential nominee told ABC’s “Good Morning America.” “Other folks can jump in and that kind of helps you get that lay of the land. But my decision won’t be made for some months still.”

Palin has become a celebrity of the Republican Party and the Tea Party movement over the past two years by gaining recognition as a  best-selling author, a television pundit and the host of her own TV reality show. She is currently promoting her second book, “America by Heart.”   

Washington Extra – Imagine

To look ahead, sometimes it’s necessary to look back.

OBAMA/In January, President Barack Obama said in an interview with ABC News: “I’d rather be a really good one-term president than a mediocre two-term president.” At that time, his signature domestic issue, healthcare reform, had been dealt a setback with the election of Republican Scott Brown to the Senate seat long held by the late Edward Kennedy, and some senators were balking at approving Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke for a second term.

Bernanke got confirmed in late January and healthcare reform passed in March.

An outsider looking at the current hand-wringing on Capitol Hill over extending tax cuts could be forgiven for thinking the issue is on a razor’s edge, when in fact it is highly likely that Obama’s compromise with the Republicans will pass in some form. Vice President Joe Biden, the president’s arm-twister on this issue, has been up on the Hill talking to reluctant Democrats and in the end will likely have the votes.

“I expect everybody to examine it carefully. When they do, I think they’re going to feel confident that, in fact, this is the right course — while understanding that for the next two years we’re going to have a big debate about taxes and we’re going to have a big debate about the budget and we’re going to have a big debate about deficits,” Obama said.

Pence in Detroit: A campaign prelude?

Prominent House Republican Mike Pence has been frequently mentioned as a potential 2012 presidential candidate. On Monday, he played the part.

In a speech to the Detroit Economic Club, a favorite campaign stop for many aspiring White House contenders, Pence pushed the idea of a flat tax, a rollback of regulatory standards and a constitutional amendment to limit spending to 20 percent of GDP. USA/NRA

“We must have a mechanism that forces Washington as a whole to make the hard choices necessary to reform our nation’s addiction to big spending and unsustainable entitlements,” Pence said, according to a prepared text of his speech.

Clinton’s happy to be out of the running

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton seen here in a Nov. 9, 2009 file photo of an event marking the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall.  REUTERS/Christian Charisius

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton seen here in a Nov. 9, 2009 file photo of an event marking the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. REUTERS/Christian Charisius

Former U.S. senator and presidential candidate Hillary Clinton says she is done seeking votes.

Clinton, who is secretary of state under President Barack Obama, said on Sunday she is not planning to run again for president or any other political office.