Tales from the Trail

Obama, Bill Clinton discuss 9/11, campaign, world affairs

obamaclinton.jpgNEW YORK – Barack Obama  and Bill Clinton talked over lunch on Thursday about the economy and world affairs in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks and what the former president can do to help the Democratic nominee defeat Republican John McCain in the Nov. 4 election.

In a joint statement, the two men said they had a “great conversation” during their meeting, which came on the seventh anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

“They discussed the campaign briefly but mostly talked about how the world has changed since September 11, 2001,” the statement said. “They also spoke about what the next president can do to help make the economy work for all Americans, as it did under President Clinton, and ensure safety and prosperity far beyond the coming the election.”

The lunch at Clinton’s office in New York’s Harlem neighborhood was the first lengthy meeting between the two since Obama emerged as the victor in his drawn-out Democratic primary battle against Clinton’s wife, Hillary. Bill Clinton has been widely reported to have nursed hard feelings about his wife’s loss, although he strongly endorsed Obama at the Democratic convention in Denver and plans to campaign for him in the coming weeks.

“We’re putting him to work,” Obama joked to reporters as he stood with the former president in an office reception area lined with books, photographs and memorabilia.

Joe Biden says Sarah Palin deserves respect

SARASOTA, Fla. – Democratic vice presidential nominee Joe Biden said on Wednesday Republican rival Sarah Palin deserves respect.
 
Biden said he assumes that the first-term Alaska governor is qualified to be second in command of the United States, but has not yet made a decision.
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“She is governor of a state. She warrants respect,” Biden told a town-hall style meeting in Sarasota, Florida, shortly before Palin was to address the Republican National Convention in St. Paul, Minnesota.
 
“The only thing that I have to find out and you have to find out is what are her views,” said Biden, a member of the Senate for 35 years who faces Palin in a debate next month.
 
“I have made no judgment about whether or not she is qualified … (but) I’m assuming as governor of a state, even though she’s only be there a couple (of years) that she’s qualified.”
 
He said that will be determined by her views and what she would do as vice president.
 
Looking ahead to their debate, Biden said, “I will walk in with respecting her significant accomplishments and we will make our differences known and that is what we will debate. at least that is what my expectation is.”

Click here for more Reuters 2008 campaign coverage.

Photo credit: Reuters/John Gress

‘Gaffe Machine’ says election is so about the issues

biden3.jpgFORT MYERS, Florida – Democratic vice presidential nominee Joe Biden, mocked by Republicans as a “gaffe machine,” took a swipe Wednesday at a remark by John McCain’s campaign manager that “this election is not about issues.”
 
“This election is not about issues?” Biden asked rhetorically, drawing hoots and hollers at a town-hall style meeting with several hundred people in Fort Myers, Florida. Noting Americans have difficulty paying for such basics as health insurance and gasoline for their cars, Biden said, “Where I come from, that’s an issue.”
 
Campaign manager Rick Davis, in an interview with The Washington Post, said, “This election is not about issues.” He said, “This election is about a composite view of what people take away from these candidates.” He predicted that the more voters get to know McCain and Democratic presidential rival Barack Obama, the more they will like the Republican ticket.
 
Biden bristled. “You have the greatest character in the world, but you are not going to give me a fighting chance that would keep my job. I love ya, but I don’t want you as president,” he said.
 
During 35 years in the Senate, the fast-talking, often long-winded Biden has earned a reputation for gaffes. Republicans count two since last week’s Democratic National Convention — when he referred to Obama as “Barack America” and put himself on the top of the ticket by saying he was “running for president.”
 
On Wednesday, Biden made another slip of the tongue. In promising to help Americans if elected, he said, “the Biden, excuse me, the Obama-Biden administration.” Amid laughter, he added, “Believe me, you all got it right: Obama-Biden.” 

Click here for more Reuters 2008 campaign coverage

- Photo credit: Reuters/Jim Young 

Media should back off Bristol Palin, Obama says

palin2.jpgMONROE, Mich. – Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama said on Monday the pregnancy of Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin’s daughter was not relevant to the campaign and reporters should back off of it.

Obama also said he was offended by a suggestion from an unidentified McCain aide that his campaign might have had a hand in spreading rumors about Palin and her family.
 
“People’s families are off-limits and people’s children are especially off-limits,” Obama told reporters following a campaign event in Monroe, Michigan. “This shouldn’t be part of our politics. It has no relevance to Gov. Palin’s performance as a governor or potential performance as a vice president. So I would strongly urge people to back off these kinds of stories,” he added.

There was no evidence Obama’s campaign had any role in stoking a rumor that Bristol Palin was actually the mother of Palin’s four-month-old. Reporters traveling with the campaign had been fascinated by the talk for days. Obama’s press aides even told reporters the rumors seemed far-fetched and they would have nothing to say about them.
 
Palin has been the subject of a rumor mill among liberal bloggers who have speculated that Palin faked her own pregnancy in order to cover up for her 17-year-old daughter, Bristol. These bloggers speculated that Sarah Palin’s fifth child, born in April with Down’s syndrome, was actually Bristol Palin’s child and that Sarah Palin was the grandmother. To rebut those rumors, Palin and her husband released a statement, first reported by Reuters, saying that Bristol was five months pregnant.
 
A senior McCain campaign aide was quoted in the Reuters story as suggesting that Obama’s campaign was linked to the bloggers who were spreading the rumors.
 
“I am offended by that statement,” Obama said when asked about it by a reporter. “There is no evidence at all that any of this involved us. Our people were not involved in any way in this and they will not be,” he added. “And if I ever thought there was somebody in my campaign that was involved in something like that, they’d be fired.” 

McCain’s VP pick Palin draws boos when mentioning Hillary Clinton

WASHINGTON, Pa. – So maybe saying nice things about Hillary Clinton at a Republican rally isn’t such a good idea.
 
John McCain’s new vice presidential nominee, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, acknowledged the New York senator on Saturday when reflecting on her new found role as a national candidate.
 
The reaction from a large chunk of the audience: boos.
 
“I think as well today of two other women who came before me in national elections, and I can’t begin this great effort without honoring the achievements of Geraldine Ferraro back in 1984 and of course, Senator Hillary Clinton,” Palin said.
    
palin2.jpgBoo. Boo. Boo.
    
So much for trying to win over disaffected Clinton supporters. They, apparently, are not turning up to McCain-Palin rallies.
    
But no matter. The Alaska governor breezed on with a nod to her own historic bid, in Clinton’s wake.
    
“It was rightly noted in Denver this week that Hillary left 18 million cracks in the highest, hardest glass ceiling in America,” she said. “But thankfully, as it turns out, the women of America aren’t finished yet, and the voters will shatter that glass ceiling once and for all.”
    
The McCain campaign has made a concerted effort to win over Clinton backers who were upset at her loss in the Democratic primary to Illinois Sen. Barack Obama.
    
Palin’s presence on the ticket puts the mother of five in line to make history as the first female U.S. vice president if she and McCain beat Obama and his running mate, Delaware Sen. Joe Biden, in the Nov. 4 election.

Photo credit: Reuters/John Gress (Palin campaigns in Washington)

Obama distances himself from campaign’s criticism of Palin

MONACA, Pennsylvania – Barack Obama distanced himself on Friday from his campaign’s initially critical statement about his rival John McCain’s choice of first-term Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as his vice presidential running mate.
 
McCain, a 72-year-old veteran Republican senator from Arizona, picked a political unknown and self-described “hockey mom” who will become the first woman Republican vice presidential candidate.
 
When the surprise decision was announced, Obama was on the tarmac at a Denver airport preparing to depart for a bus tour in the industrial Midwest with his running mate, Joe Biden. The Democratic candidate had just made history by becoming the first black to accept a major-party presidential nomination.
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His spokesman, Bill Burton, issued a statement suggesting Palin was too inexperienced to be vice president. “Today, John McCain put the former mayor of a town of 9,000 with zero foreign policy experience a heartbeat away from the presidency,” it  said.
 
The McCain campaign quickly shot back that it was “audacious” for aides to the 47-year-old first-term Illinois senator to accuse Palin of inexperience.
 
Later in the day, Obama told reporters that the campaign’s early statement was “hair-trigger” and did not reflect his sentiments.
 
“I haven’t met her before. She seems like a compelling person. Obviously, a terrific story, personal story,” he said while touring a biodiesel plant in Monaca, Pennsylvania.
 
Obama said the choice of Palin was “one more indicator of this country moving forward” and a hit against the glass ceiling that has limited women’s advancement.
 
In a phone call to Palin, Obama told her he thought she would be a terrific candidate and wished her luck “but not too much luck,” according to Robert Gibbs, his senior adviser.

Click here for more Reuters 2008 campaign coverage.

- Photo credit: Reuters/John Gress (McCain stands with his vice presidential running mate Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin in Dayton, Ohio, Aug. 29, 2008)

Schwarzenegger says “maybe” to GOP convention

arnold.jpgCalifornia Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is expected to help kick off the opening night of the Republican Convention on Sept. 1, but the “governator” says his appearance is contingent on whether a state budget agreement is reached between Republicans and Democrats. 

In a press conference Wednesday afternoon where the governor rolled out his budget compromise plan, Schwarzenegger said he “made it very clear” to Arizona Sen. John McCain that he’s “honored” to speak at the convention — but the budget comes first. 

“The state of California and the budget is the most important thing,” Schwarzenegger said to reporters. “If I do not have a budget, I cannot speak at the convention.”

Michael Moore’s Dream Ticket: Obama-Kennedy

carolinekennedy.jpgWASHINGTON – With campaign observers in a frenzy awaiting the impending results of the 2008 vice presidential sweepstakes, filmmaker Michael Moore has stepped up with a provocative plea to an advisor to Barack Obama: “Caroline, Pull a Cheney!”

That would be Caroline Kennedy, the daughter of the late President John F. Kennedy, and the head of the group searching to find a running mate for the Democratic nominee.

“I cannot think of a more winning ticket than one that reads: “OBAMA-KENNEDY,” Moore wrote in an open letter to Kennedy posted on his Web site.

Obama, with sniffles, reassures Democrats about White House win

obama2.jpgALBUQUERQUE, New Mexico – Democrats are getting nervous — and Barack Obama seems to sense it.

The Illinois senator, fresh from a trip to Hawaii where he picked up a cold, has been rallying supporters in the past two days, urging them not to be anxious about Republican attacks that have helped lift Arizona Sen. John McCain in the polls.

“Everywhere I go people have told me, ‘Oh, I’m getting nervous. The Republicans — they’re so mean … What are we going to do?’” Obama told a town hall meeting with some 1,800 people on Monday.

Cindy McCain’s wrist hurt by a campaign handshake

LIVONIA, Mich. – Republican presidential hopeful Sen. John McCain said on Wednesday that his wife, Cindy, had become the victim of an overenthusiastic
supporter.

“An individual shook her hand very vigorously at the last event we were at and she has a minor sprain,” McCain told a press conference during a day of fund-raising in this cindy.jpgbattleground state.

Cindy McCain was X-rayed at a local hospital and treated for the sprain.

Appearing beside her husband with her arm in a blue sling, she said she was absolutely fine.