Tales from the Trail

Bloomberg-led group pushes McCain, Obama on guns

bloomberg.jpgNEW YORK CITY -  A bipartisan group of 325 U.S. mayors on Wednesday sent a questionnaire to the U.S. presidential candidates, challenging them to take “common sense steps” to tighten the background check system for gun buyers.

Republican presidential candidate John McCain and his Democratic rival Barack Obama have until Sept. 8 to respond to the six questions, the group said.

“Illegal guns are used to murder 34 Americans every day, and we deserve to hear from those who seek the presidency what they will do to keep guns out of the hands of criminals,” said New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, a coalition founder.

Bloomberg, a political independent who considered running for president this year, said that criminals and terrorists can easily evade the current system.

His crusade against illegal guns has made him into something of a pariah among influential gun-rights groups in the United States.

Country star John Rich performs for McCain

military.jpgPANAMA CITY, Florida – Republican presidential candidate John McCain, whose musical tastes are known to include the disco band Abba, took in some country music on Friday — courtesy of Nashville star John Rich.
Rich, half of the star duo “Big and Rich,” staged a waterside concert for McCain in the Florida Panhandle, a traditional Republican part of the battleground state.
McCain’s rallies earlier this year included the tune, Johnny B. Goode, and once he got tired of that, Abba’s 1977 hit “Take a Chance on Me” was his song of choice. 
Music at his events are now an eclectic mix from the Rolling Stones to Tina Turner and Brooks and Dunn.
Rich, in between songs, declared himself a west Texas conservative who gets frustrated when he turns on the television because “I always see the other side” of the political spectrum represented.
So, he said, he wrote a song called “Raising McCain,” which he performed.
“We’re all just raising McCain,” he sang. “You can get on the train, or get out of the way, we’re all just raising McCain.”
At that point, McCain pulled up in his Straight Talk Express bus with his wife, Cindy, and Florida Republican Gov. Charlie Crist and his fiance.
Noting the military veterans in the crowd, McCain said: “We will not surrender, not in Iraq or Afghanistan or anywhere else in the world.” 
Rich’s musical partner, Big Kenny Alphin, was not at the Country First concert, and is reported to have given money to the campaign of Democrat Barack Obama.

Click here for more Reuters 2008 campaign coverage

Photo credit: Reuters/Brian Snyder (McCain speaks July 21 outside Maine Military Museum in South Portland)

How to choose a VP? For McCain, rule one is “do no harm”

mccain-vp.jpgBAKERSFIELD, Calif.  – John McCain may not be giving any clues about who he wants as his No. 2, but the Republican presidential candidate does have a few ideas about how to choose. 

Rule one: Do no harm. 

“First, you want to make sure you have a candidate that’s not going to hurt the ticket,” the Arizona senator told a fundraising event webcast to American citizens in Bermuda.

“The second thing is, and I think it’s the key criteria, is it someone who shares your principles, your values, your philosophy and your priorities? Hardest thing for the president is to establish priorities.”

Obama election countdown clock emerges for new iPhone

WASHINGTON – For all those Internet-savvy supporters of Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. Barack Obama, there’s something new made just for you — that is if you have one of those new fangled iPhones unveiled by Apple last week.iphone.jpg

You can now remind yourself just how soon it is until election day with a new “Countdown to Change” clock that is made for easy viewing on the iPhone. (For those of you in the more analog world, most Web sites are not easily formatted for viewing on Blackberrys and iPhones.)

The application was posted by Apple on July 16 and created by Nick Pettit, a software engineer and student at University of Central Florida, but he said he did not have a direct connection to the Obama campaign.

Meet the Obama girls

WASHINGTON – Barack Obama doesn’t like sweets, prefers minty gum to bubblegum and leaves his luggage in everybody’s way when he arrives home on a break from the malia1.jpgcampaign.
That’s the scoop from the Democratic presidential candidate’s daughters from a family interview for television’s “Access Hollywood.”

Malia and Sasha Obama have joined their parents on the campaign trail a number of times in recent weeks. They spoke for the first time in the interview which began airing on Tuesday
“When he comes home and leaves his big gigantic bag in the mudroom, sometimes I trip over it,” said Malia, who celebrated her 10th birthday while the family campaigned in Butte, Montana, on Independence Day. 

“You always put your bag on my shoes,” seven-year-old Sasha scolded her father. 
The girls joined their mother in showing that the Illinois senator does not live up to his public imagine as a fashion plate. 

No rain on McCain’s parade during wet Mexican press conference

mccain-mexico.jpgMEXICO CITY – Rain may ruin a parade, but it won’t ruin a press conference – at least not for John McCain.

The Republican U.S. presidential candidate closed up his short swing through Colombia and Mexico on Thursday with a “media avail” in a hangar, against a background of helicopters and fast police cars.

A media avail, for the uninitiated, is short for “availability” – another word for a news conference. And the Arizona senator likes to give them.   

Michelle Obama speaks to gay Democrats

michelle.jpgNEW YORK – Michelle Obama won a standing ovation on Thursday when she paid a campaign visit to gay and lesbian Democratic activists to promote her husband Barack Obama‘s presidential quest.

Obama, appearing at a dinner meeting of the Gay & Lesbian Leadership Council of the Democratic National Committee, cited her husband’s efforts to fight discrimination and promote equal rights for lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgendered people.

She said he supported a complete repeal of the federal Defense of Marriage Act, or DOMA, which only recognizes marriages between men and women and upholds states’ rights not to honor same-sex marriages performed elsewhere. He also opposes a “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy toward gays in the U.S. military and was against a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage, she added.

Dear Laura, Thanks, from Michelle

michelle1.jpgNEW YORK - Michelle Obama wrote a thank-you note to Laura Bush after the first lady spoke up in defense of the wife of the Democratic presidential candidate, Obama said on Wednesday.

Obama, who is married to Illinois Sen. Barack Obama, created a controversy on the campaign trail in February when she said, “For the first time in my adult lifetime I am really proud of my country.”

After critics questioned her patriotism because of the remark, Obama has frequently said she is proud of her country.

Campaign debates over sexism, racism, ageism rage on

obama5.jpgNEW YORK – One thing seems certain in the race for the White House — the debate that the campaigns have sparked on sexism, racism and ageism in the United States is nowhere near resolved.

The media’s handling of Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and John McCain – each running a groundbreaking campaign — has drawn attention to the way women, blacks and older people are seen in America, according to a panel of experts that met on mccain2.jpgclinton2.jpgTuesday at the Paley Center for Media.

 ”I think it’s time for journalists to stop and look back at what they did and not say, ‘Well, we’re not covering Hillary Clinton any more so gender is no longer an issue,’” said panelist Kathleen Hall Jamieson, director of the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania.

On veterans education bill, Dole backs Obama over McCain

WASHINGTON – Former U.S. Sen Bob Dole is a leading advocate for war veterans and a longtime Republican ally of presidential candidate John McCain, but on Friday he sided with Democrat Barack Obama to endorse a bill the Arizona senator opposes to raise benefits for former soldiers.

The legislation passed by the Senate on Thursday is at the heart of a fierce spat rtr1nj7z.jpgbetween McCain and his Obama, the Illinois senator closing in on the Democratic presidential nomination. Obama questioned McCain’s commitment to veterans, while the Republican candidate blasted the Obama’s lack of military service.

“I’m for the concept … I probably would have voted for it, if we get the money,” Dole told the National Press Club in an appearance spiced liberally with his trademark political wit. He acknowledged, “I haven’t read it, which is not a requirement in Congress.”