Tales from the Trail

Contraception question booed at Republican debate

A question about contraception caused a flareup in the culture wars during the last Republican presidential debate before next week’s Arizona and Michigan primaries and “Super Tuesday.”

The question drew boos from the audience and impassioned statements from the four candidates on the stage in Mesa, Arizona, last night.

“Since birth control is the latest hot topic, which candidate believes in birth control, and if not, why?” was the question posed via cnnpolitics.com.

It sparked a lengthy discourse by the candidates on religious freedom, contraception, and family structure. None of the White House hopefuls directly responded to the question.

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who has taken on the media in previous debates, said it was legitimate to question “the power of the government to impose on religion activities which any religion opposes,” before questioning CNN moderator John King and zeroing in on Democrat Barack Obama.

“Through the eyes of a child”

President Barack Obama faced two tests when he spoke Wednesday night at a memorial service for the six people killed in the Arizona shooting — make an emotional connection and comfort a grieving community.
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Obama honored heroes and victims, but his tribute to the youngest victim may have helped him connect with people who attended the service in Tucson or watched on television.

“And then there is nine year-old Christina Taylor Green,”   Obama said. “In Christina, we see all of our children.”

Arizona sheriff sees others like Loughner

RTXWCIT_Comp1-150x150Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik sounds worried about the possibility of other attacks on elected officials like Gabrielle Giffords.

Not that he’s got evidence of another shooter or anything. But Dupnik says there are thousands of people like Jared Lee Loughner, the shooting suspect described as a mentally disturbed loner.

“These people are very susceptible to emotions like anger and paranoia and so forth, and I think that the tone of rhetoric that has occurred in this country over the past couple of years affects troubled personalities,” he tells NBC’s Today show.

Ben Quayle’s famous last name a double-edged sword in Arizona House race

David Schwartz takes a look at the latest Quayle seeking to go to Washington.

Ben Quayle knows how to spell potato.

The son of former vice president Dan Quayle also knows that his famous last name is a double-edged sword when running for elected office.

“You get name recognition right off the bat,” said Quayle, vying to represent the Third Congressional District in Arizona. “It also opens you up to more scrutiny and immediate ridicule. Some people enjoy picking on Quayle again.”

In his first run for office, the 33-year-old is regarded as the front-runner when voters in his Republican-heavy district go to the polls Nov. 2 to replace veteran GOP Rep. John Shadegg. Quayle faces Democrat Jon Hulburd.

McCain hails Palin power in the mid-term elections

Arizona Senator John McCain says his former running mate former Alasaka governor Sarah Palin is a “visionary” for the United States.

“She has had a tremendous impact on this election cycle, as you well know, by supporting certain candidates,” McCain said in an interview on ABC’s “Nightline. “It is really a remarkable thing to observe.”

The 2008 Republican presidential nominee again defended his decision to pick the then relatively unknown Palin for the number-two spot on the ticket.

McCain, Napolitano shoot it out, rhetorically speaking, over US-Mexico border

OIL-RIG/LEAK

USA-SECURITY/When Arizonans John McCain and Janet Napolitano started arguing over border security in the Senate on Wednesday, it sounded briefly like the pair could be heading for a modern day shootout at the O.K. Corral.

But it ended in a Mexican stand-off instead, with each cow poke flanked by an imaginary posse of sympathetic sheriffs.

The trouble started when McCain, a Republican senator, got his chance to ask questions at a hearing of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs.

Florida, Arizona contestants set, still waiting on Alaska…

The contestants are set in Florida’s three-way race for the U.S. Senate and John McCain holds on to pursue a fifth term. USA/PALIN

But most of the chatter this morning is about the Alaska surprise where Joe Miller, an underdog candidate backed by Sarah Palin and the Tea Party, edged into the lead over incumbent Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski. It may take a week or more to determine the winner of the primary as rural and absentee votes are tallied. 

How Miller fares will be seen as a test of Palin’s clout in the Republican Party. She has backed a number of candidates in this primary season and her results are mixed.

Arizona immigration law controversy hits border governors’ conference

The simmering row over Arizona’s tough-as-nails immigration law has led to a shift in venue for the U.S.-Mexico border governors’ meeting, an annual event usually characterized by unity and good will.

Arizona Governor Jan Brewer, a Republican, canceled the bash she was due to host after six border governors from Mexico pulled out in protest at the desert state’s crackdown on unauthorized immigrants she inked into law in late April.

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New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson, a Democrat, stepped in this week to save the meeting which is now set to take place in Santa Fe in late September — although full attendance looks doubtful in the poisoned atmosphere that lingers.

Arizona immigration law prompts ACLU travel alert

aliensAs Arizona prepares to implement a controversial law cracking down on illegal immigrants, the American Civil Liberties Union has issued a travel alert advising visitors to the desert state of their civil rights if stopped by police.

The law requires state and local police to investigate the immigration status of anyone that they reasonably suspect is in the country illegally, during the course of lawful contact such as a traffic stop.

Backers of the measure, which takes effect on July 29 barring a successful legal challenge, say it is needed to curb illegal immigration and border-related crime in the state, which is a major corridor for drug and human smuggling from Mexico. Opponents, among them the ACLU, say it is a recipe for racial profiling.

Arizona migrant law inspires other states

USA-IMMIGRATION/Arizona’s state law cracking down on illegal immigrants has inspired similar measures in four other U.S. states, although legislators may await the outcome of pending legal challenges before pressing ahead with them, analysts say.

In late April, Arizona’s Republican-controlled legislature passed a bill  requiring police in the Mexico border state to check the immigration status of anyone they reasonably suspect is in the country illegally, during the course of a traffic stop or similar legal contact.

The law comes into effect on July 29, pending challenges in federal court by plaintiffs including two police officers, faith and civil rights groups that charge the measure is unconstitutional and a mandate for racial profiling.