Tales from the Trail

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.”   

She is among more than a dozen Republicans who are believed to be considering a White House run against President Barack Obama in USA/2012.  But her potential candidacy has already divided Republican ranks. Some party officials see her as a potential front-runner with a large grass-roots base. But others say she lacks the gravitas to oust Obama, even if he were struggling.

An ABC/Washington Post poll shows her lagging Obama by 22 percentage points in a hypothetical match-up and says six in 10 voters would not consider voting for her.

Jindal’s not running for president, but…

LOUISIANA GOVERNORS ELECTIONFirst, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal says he isn’t running for president. Then out comes his prescription for righting the national economy. 

“What I’m saying is, if we actually focus on the real challenges facing our country, not get diverted into taking over car companies and healthcare (but) cut taxes, create jobs, our country can get back on the right path, right direction,” the rising Republican conservative star of the South tells NBC in an interview.

Political oracle Karl Rove has anointed Jindal as one of 10 potential GOP presidential candidates for 2012.  Seven others on the list are also current or former state governors. But the 39-year-old son of Indian immigrants is the only one who is his state’s first nonwhite governor since the Civil War era, whose popularity among voters that has scored one decisive election victory after another.  

Karl Rove says families should be off limits in politics

USA/ROVE

Karl Rove thinks the families of public figures should be off limits from the nasty, maligning, ad hominem attacks of election politics.

On an NBC Today show appearance to promote his new book, “Courage and Consequence: My Life as a Conservative in the Fight”, Rove was asked about reports that his adoptive father, Louis, was gay.

Some critics have gone so far as to speculate that a gay father might help explain his parents’ divorce, his mother’s suicide and even his opposition to gay marriage. But Rove wants to “set the record straight” in the book, which is due for release on Tuesday.

How well was Palin vetted? McCain, um, doesn’t know

Republican John McCain says he doesn’t know whether his former vice presidential running mate, Sarah Palin, was WASHINGTON-SUMMIT/adequately vetted. At least, he doesn’t know who says she wasn’t, and he doesn’t care. What he does know is that the 2008 presidential race was a tough fight. But now he’s very proud and very happy. Any more questions? Get lost. 
    
McCain just wouldn’t take the bait in an interview with NBC’s Today show when asked to comment on revelations about his failed 2008 White House campaign that appear in the new book, “Game Change,” by New York magazine writer John Heilemann and Time magazine reporter Mark Halperin .
    
NBC asked whether the book is correct where it describes the vetting process for Palin as hasty and haphazard, with no one bothering to speak to her husband or her political enemies.
    
“I wouldn’t know,” McCain replied.
    
Sorry? The Republican Party nominee wouldn’t know if his own running mate had been adequately vetted? 
USA-POLITICS/MCCAIN    
“I wouldn’t know what the sources are, nor care,” the Arizona senator explained.
    
“I am not going to spend time looking back at what happened over a year ago when we’ve got two wars to fight, 10 percent unemployment in my state and things to do. I’m sorry. You’ll have to get others to comment.”
    
McCain’s decision to transplant Palin from political obscurity to the national limelight undermined his credibility even among Republicans. Some worried that voters would see the former Alaska governor as too inexperienced to become Veep and possibly, some day, take on the mantle of Commander-in-Chief during a national emergency. 
    
Palin has since become the most visible Republican figure in the national political firmament, publishing a best-selling book, landing a job as pundit on FOX News and attracting speculation about a possible White House run in 2012. USA-POLITICS/MCCAIN
    
“She will be a major factor in American politics in the future,” McCain predicted, with an apparent air of vindication.
    
“I am proud of everybody in my campaign. I’m proud of the campaign we ran. I’m so proud that I had the opportunity to represent my party in the election. And I’ll always look back on that period with pride and with satisfaction. It was tough. But I’m very happy and I’m very happy in my new role in the Senate and going back and fighting the good fight.”

Photo Credits: Reuters/Jonathan Ernst (McCain); Reuters/Brian Snyder (McCain and Palin) and (Palin)

Click here for more political coverage from Reuters

Bomb plot thrusts Obama into political storm

President Barack Obama is weathering a political storm over last month’s suspected al Qaeda plot to bomb a Detroit-bound plane, particularly from Republicans who say he dropped the ball on security while pursuing healthcare and climate reforms. But how much substance there is behind the allegations may depend on who’s talking.

Republican Sen. Jim DeMint of South Carolina told NBC’s Today show that he believes Obama just woke up to the gravity of the al Qaeda threat. SECURITY-AIRLINE/OBAMA

“A lot of us have been concerned over the last year that the president did seem to downplay the threat of terror. He doesn’t use the word anymore. He hesitates to say that there is a war on terror,” DeMint said.

The First Draft: Teddy’s Life of Remorse and Atonement

Oswald was the lone assassin. JFK wanted a way out of Vietnam. And Bobby’s death brought a bout of self-destructive drinking around the time Mary Jo Kopechne died at Chappaquiddick Island in an “inexcusable” car accident.

Those are some of the insights in a forthcoming memoir by the late Sen. Edward Kennedy, who died last week but lives again in print as a leading figure in American politics.

In the book, “True Compass,” which Teddy completed while suffering from the brain cancer that claimed his life, he admits “terrible decisions” at Chappaquiddick in 1969 and says those events may have shortened the life of his father, Joe. KENNEDY

George W. Bush: Book-reader in chief

Just when you get your mind all made up about President George W. Bush, along comes Karl Rove trying to unsettle things.
 USA/
The president is far from being the uncultured book-burner often portrayed by his critics, his former deputy chief of staff wrote in The Wall Street Journal Friday.
 
In fact, Bush is a voracious reader and lover of books, Rove insisted.
 
The president has gone through 40 tomes so far this year. That follows 51 in 2007 and 95 in 2006. Plus the Bible from cover to cover each year.
 
History, fiction, biography. You name it, he’s read it.
 
“Team of Rivals,” the book about Abraham Lincoln’s Cabinet that is shaping President-elect Barack Obama’s thinking about his own administration?
 
Bush has been there, done that. Read it back in ’06. Along with a Mao biography, Nathaniel Philbrick’s “Mayflower,” eight Travis McGee novels by John D. MacDonald and “The Stranger” by Albert Camus.
 
He went through “Khrushchev’s Cold War,” “Rogue Regime” and “The Shia Revival” in ’07. That plus his daughter Jenna’s book “Ana’s Story.” And many others.
 
This year there’s been U.S. Grant’s “Personal Memoirs,” Hugh Thomas’ “Spanish Civil War” and James McPherson’s “Tried by war: Abraham Lincoln as Commander in Chief.”
 
“There is a myth perpetuated by Bush critics that he would rather burn a book than read one,” Rove wrote.
 USA/
“Like so many caricatures of the past eight years, this one is not only wrong, but also the opposite of the truth and evidence that bitterness can devour a small-minded critic,” he said.
 
If the reading part wasn’t shock enough for Bush naysayers, Rove has more.
 
“Mr. Bush loves books, learns from them and is intellectually engaged by them,” he wrote.
 
How, you may ask, would Rove know so much about Bush’s reading habits?
 
It seems they have been engaged in friendly competition to see who could read the greatest number of books each year. 

And who won? 
 
Not the president. Rove mopped the floor with him every year. He read 110 in 2006, 76 in 2007 and has 64 to his credit so far in 2008.

Bush’s excuse? Too busy with his day job.

For more Reuters political news, click here.

Photo credit: Reuters/Larry Downing (Bush and his father, former President George H.W. Bush, prepare to board Air Force One en route to Texas Dec. 26); Reuters/Fred Prouser (Rove takes part in a panel discussion on Fox TV July 14)