Tales from the Trail

Vice presidential candidates by the numbers

By Gabriel Debenedetti
October 9, 2012

The vice presidential candidates who will take the stage for a debate at Centre College in Danville, Kentucky this week are just as polarizing as their running mates, according to Reuters/Ipsos polls. “Very unfavorable” was the most commonly held view of both men.

Romney’s strong debate draws cheers and relief from Republicans in Congress

October 4, 2012

Mitt Romney’s strong debate performance eased concerns by fellow Republicans in Congress that his recent struggles could be a problem for all of them on Election Day.

Obama takes a break from debate prep – at the Hoover Dam

October 2, 2012

U.S. President Barack Obama took a break from preparing for Wednesday night’s debate with a quick visit to the Hoover Dam.

Obama, McCain take on each other’s VP picks at debate

October 16, 2008

HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. – They weren’t part of the debate, but vice presidential candidates Sarah Palin and Joe Biden did get some time in the spotlight on Wednesday.
 
At their final debate before the November 4 election, Democrat Barack Obama and Republican John McCain were each asked to rate the other’s vice presidential pick.
 
vps.jpgObama, when asked whether Palin, the governor of Alaska, was qualified to be president, demurred.
 
“You know, I think it’s — that’s going to be up to the American people,” the Illinois senator said. “I think that, obviously, she’s a capable politician who has, I think, excited the — a base in the Republican Party.”
 
Notice he did not mention her level of experience. 
 
McCain, when asked about Biden, said he disagreed with his Senate colleague but declared him qualified to be in the White House. “I think that Joe Biden is qualified in many respects. But I do point out that he’s been wrong on many foreign policy and national security issues, which is supposed to be his strength,” McCain said.
 
“In Iraq, he had this cockamamie idea about dividing Iraq into three countries,” the Arizona senator continued. “There are several issues in which, frankly, Joe Biden and I open and honestly disagreed on national security policy, and he’s been wrong on a number of the major ones.”

Candidates spar over abortion rights

October 16, 2008

DALLAS – Barack Obama and John McCain got a chance during their third presidential debate on Wednesday night to directly address their respective bases when they were asked about abortion.

Michelle Obama brings Republican date to the debate

October 15, 2008

rtr20fdd.jpgIt’s no surprise that Michelle Obama will be rooting for her husband, Barack Obama, when the Democratic presidential candidate squares off against Republican John McCain in their final debate at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York tonight.

Gores host post-debate fundraiser for Obama

October 8, 2008

obamas.jpgNASHVILLE, Tenn. - Democrat Barack Obama wasn’t quite ready to call it a night after his debate on Tuesday night with Republican John McCain.

Biden chokes up as he goes toe to toe with Palin on family challenges

October 3, 2008

Democratic vice presidential candidate Joe Biden went toe to toe with Republican rival Sarah Palin at their debate when talking about understanding the kitchen table issues families face, choking up when talking about the challenges they face.

A little stealthy debate help from friends? It could happen

October 2, 2008

debate.jpgBIRMINGHAM, Alabama – Is it possible that a candidate could get a little help from friends during a presidential or vice presidential debate?
 
The idea that a contender could get advice or facts from staff through an earpiece while at the podium might strain the bounds of moral possibility, but technologically it could happen.  The CIA created an earpiece known as the SRR-100 in the 1970s to enable its officers in Moscow to monitor KGB frequencies and see if they were under surveillance, according to a recent book by Robert Wallace, the agency’s former director of Technical Services.
 
The CIA’s problem was disguising the earpiece but using 19th century technology known as an induction loop it became possible and today variations of the gadget are available for less than $100.
 
“The technology exists for someone using a two-way radio to give instructions to someone on stage via an easily concealable earpiece over nearly four thousand channels,” said director of sales at customearpiece.com Steve Perodi.
 
“The earpiece is especially easy to conceal if the wearer has a lot of hair,” Perodi said.
 
But it wouldn’t be easy.
 
The Commission on Presidential Debates employs a frequency coordinator armed with a spectrum analyzer capable of detecting any radio use during the debate. ”It’s improbable but not impossible. My job is to find them, which isn’t hard with a spectrum analyzer,” said veteran frequency coordinator Steve Mendelsohn.
 
“But as we used to say in the Navy: ‘We can see every submarine in the world. The question is, can we prosecute them?’ Who’s going to go up to a presidential candidate and pat them down?,” he said.

McCain “disappointed” that media declared debate a tie

September 27, 2008

mccain3.jpgWASHINGTON – Republican White House hopeful John McCain, fresh from his first debate with Democratic rival Barack Obama in Mississippi, expressed regret on Saturday that his performance didn’t win over all the pundits in the press.
 
“I was a little disappointed the media called it a tie but I think that means, when they call it a tie, that means we win,” McCain said during a telephone call that was caught by cameras filming him at his campaign headquarters.
 
Both camps claimed victory after the 90-minute debate on Friday.
 
Meanwhile, Obama’s campaign manager, David Plouffe, sought to lower expectations for the next debate in Tennessee on Oct. 7. It will be conducted in a town-hall style with questions from an audience.
 
“We will be a decided underdog in that encounter, and John McCain is the undisputed town hall champion,” Plouffe told reporters on a conference call, noting that McCain — who is fond of the format — had challenged Obama to do joint town hall meetings throughout the summer.
 
“He clearly feels, even more than the foreign policy debate, this is his home turf. So if we can just escape relatively unscathed against the undisputed town hall champion in Tennessee, we’ll be thrilled.”
 
Obama has held regular town halls of his own throughout the 2008 campaign and does not appear to struggle with the format.