Tales from the Trail

Carter says race is issue for some Obama opponents

Some of President Barack Obama’s more demonstrative opponents list any number of reasons why they oppose him and why they’re angry — from the bank bailout, to his plan to overhaul the U.S. healthcare system, the direction the country is heading and the ballooning U.S. deficit. But former President Jimmy Carter thinks a lot of the opposition is really about Obama’s race.

jimmy-carter

“I think an overwhelming portion of the intensely demonstrated animosity toward President Barack Obama is based on the fact that he is a black man,” Carter said in an NBC interview on Tuesday.

Here’s what the Georgia Democrat had to say:
“I live in the South, and I’ve seen the South come a long way, and I’ve seen the rest of the country that share the South’s attitude toward minority groups at that time, particularly African Americans. “And that racism inclination still exists. And I think it’s bubbled up to the surface because of the belief among many white people, not just in the South but around the country, that African-Americans are not qualified to lead this great country. It’s an abominable circumstance, and it grieves me and concerns me very deeply.”

Click here for the NBC video.

Disputes over race are not unheard of in U.S. presidential politics. Click here for a list of some of them.

Click here for more Reuters Political News.
Photo Credit: Reuters/Tami Chappell (Carter at a baseball game in Atlanta in June)

Help Obama, win a trip to see where he was born

Have a hankering to visit a hospital in Hawaii?

USA-ELECTION/You could win a trip to tour the hospital where President Barack Obama was born. All you have to do is to submit the winning idea on how people can help Obama change the country for the better.

Progress Now, a liberal grass roots group, launched a new program to urge people across the country to help Obama pass healthcare reform and enact his other core campaign promises.

According to a press release, this campaign is the first part of the national launch of the ’50 Ways You Can Help Obama Change America’ — a book by ProgressNow founder Michael Huttner.

Obama handles China delicately

It’s too early to tell whether President Barack Obama’s new approach to China will be more successful than his predecessor’s. But this week’s high-level dialogue in Washington underlined how the balance of power is shifting. CHINA-USA/OBAMA

The U.S. side, determined to be more respectful and less confrontational, tiptoed around the sensitive issue of China’s currency, avoiding any public appeal for an upwards revaluation in the yuan.

There was a passing reference to the rights of China’s ethnic and religious minorities, but no sign the other side would take any more notice of foreign interference in its internal affairs than it has in the past.

The First Draft: numbers down

The numbers are down and that’s not good for President Barack Obama’s healthcare push.

A Washington Post-ABC News poll shows public support of  Obama’s handling of healthcare reform, a centerpiece of his domestic agenda, fell below 50 percent for the first time.

OBAMA/That could be a big OH-OH by providing critics (some in Obama’s own Democratic party)  ammunition against the plan that is estimated to cost more than $1 trillion.

The First Draft: Palin goes fishing for cameras, Obama talks too

After catching the national media off guard with Friday’s pre-holiday weekend bombshell that she was resigning as Alaska governor, Sarah Palin gave the television networks a chance to catch up with a round of stage-managed interviews for the morning news shows.

Television correspondents lined up to land a few minutes with Palin, decked out in overalls and wading in the surf at husband Todd’s family fishing operation. With children in tow on the fishing trip/photo op, she explained her decision to bail out of office more than a year early.

USA/SENATE-GEORGIAIt had nothing to do with running for president in 2012, she said. She’s just unconventional. Once she had decided she was not running for re-election, she knew she could not “play the political game that most politicians do,” she told NBC.

Michelle Obama’s close encounters with Elmo, Big Bird and U.S. diplomats

Michelle ObamaU.S. first lady Michelle Obama told an audience at the U.S. mission to the United Nations that she was “thrilled” to be back in New York for the first time since her husband Barack Obama became the 44th U.S. president in January. But she said some things are even more exciting than addressing an audience of 150 U.S. diplomats, military advisers and other government officials.

“I’m thrilled to be here but I was just at ‘Sesame Street’, I’m sorry,” she said, referring to the long-running U.S. children’s television program. “I never thought I’d be on ‘Sesame Street’ with Elmo and Big Bird and I was thrilled. I’m still thrilled. I’m on a high. I think it’s probably the best thing I’ve done so far in the White House.”

Elmo
One of the biggest rounds of applause during the first lady’s 20-minute appearance at the U.S. mission in midtown Manhattan came when she read a letter the son of one of the mission staffers, Scott Turner, recently sent to the president.  According to Michelle Obama, Turner’s son Jack, a first grader,  wrote to the president:

Poll shows Americans trust Obama, Democrats

WASHINGTON – OBAMA/U.S. President Barack Obama has yet to turn around the troubled U.S. economy, but American voters have confidence in his efforts and see him headed in the right direction.

Those are among the findings of a survey released on Tuesday that also showed Americans have greater confidence in Obama’s fellow Democrats than they do in rival Republicans.
 
The survey, however, had some troublesome numbers for the Democrats’ third-highest ranking elected official — House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
 
Just 26 percent of respondents said they had a “great deal” or “some” trust in the California Democrat, who stands second in the line of succession to Obama, behind only Vice President Joe Biden.
 
The poll found that more respondents, 38 percent and 28 percent, respectively, had such a level of trust in Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, the failed 2008 Republican vice presidential nominee, and conservative radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh, respectively.
 
The Public Strategies Inc./POLITICO nationwide survey of 1,000 registered voters was conducted March 27-31 and had a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percent.
 
The poll found that 66 percent of respondents said they have a “great deal” or “some” trust in Obama, who has battled Republicans as well as some Democrats in the U.S. Congress, largely over fiscal policy, since taking office on January 20.
 
The survey found that 52 percent of respondents have a “great deal” or “some” trust in Democrats, while just 40 percent have such a level of confidence in Republicans, who vigorously opposed Obama’s $787 billion economic stimulus package and $3.5 trillion budget plan.
 
The survey found with Obama at the helm, 54 percent of respondents said they believe that the U.S. government is headed in the right direction, up from 35 percent in December before the new president took office.
 
Obama, in a speech on Tuesday in Washington, said there were signs of economic recovery but cautioned “by no means are we out of the woods just yet.”

For more Reuters political news, click here.

Photo credit: Reuters/Larry Downing – U.S. President Barack Obama speaks about the economy at Gaston Hall at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. on April 14, 2009.

The First Draft: Down to business

The White House puts its focus back on the economy today, with a day-long conference to talk about how the money from the economic stimulus package is being spent.

President Barack Obama is due to speak at the “Recovery Act Implementation Conference” at 11:00 EDT (1500 GMT). He is expected to talk about the need to make sure all the money spent as part of the stimulus is transparent and used efficiently. Later in the day he will speak and take questios at a business roundtable.

The timing is perfect: a Reuters survey showed U.S. unemployment will approach 10 percent as the country endures its worst recession since World War Two.

So is Clinton advising Obama on healthcare? White House won’t say

President Barack Obama turned his chief rival in the 2008 Democratic primaries, Hillary Clinton, into his secretary of state, but is he tapping her for advice on healthcare reform too?
 
Not clear. Clinton, who spearheaded a failed attempt to overhaul the U.S. healthcare system in the 1990s while her husband, Bill Clinton, was president, will be in Europe on Thursday, when Obama holds a “summit” on healthcare reform.
 
So has the White House consulted with the former first lady about the issue? OBAMA/
 
“You know, I don’t know if they have had wide-ranging conversations specifically with Secretary Clinton,” spokesman Robert Gibbs told a White House briefing.
 
“There are still a number of people around that were part of that effort that can be consulted,” he said.
 
Clinton’s failed efforts in the 90s were widely blamed for hurting her husband’s adminstration, with critics citing the secrecy of the process as one of its downfalls.
 
Thursday’s summit is meant to set a process in motion to reduce healthcare costs and extend insurance benefits to millions of Americans who are not covered.
 
Gibbs hinted that the White House would not repeat the former first lady’s mistakes.
 
“I think even those involved in previous efforts would acknowledge misgivings that they had about the way the process worked,” he said. “Tomorrow’s effort is intended to bring about a process that people can be assured is open.”

For more Reuters political news, click here.

Photo Credit: Reuters/Kevin Lemarque (Obama and Clinton at the State Deptarment on January 22)

First fan rooting for Steelers in Super Bowl

The newest sports fan at the White House isn’t afraid to pick sides in Sunday’s Super Bowl. And like many Americans, he’s having a few people over to watch the big game.

President Barack Obama says he’ll be rooting for the PIttsburgh Steelers to winNFL/, although he joked that Kurt Warner – the 37-year-old quarterback for the Arizona Cardinals and a former Super Bowl MVP — was closer to his age than anybody else who’ll be playing on the field.

“I wish the best to the Cardinals. They’ve been long-suffering; it’s a great Cinderella story,” Obama said of the Cardinals, who peaked in the post-season and stunned many by making it to their first Super Bowl.