Tales from the Trail

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.

Punches come fast and furious in opening debate round

September 27, 2008

WASHINGTON – Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama came out swinging on the economic crisis facing the U.S. financial system during the first U.S. presidential debate, while Republican rival John McCain first words were to praise the bipartisan efforts to craft a rescue plan. rtx8yoi.jpg
Obama blasted the Bush administration and tried to tie the last eight years to McCain. 
“This is a final verdict on eight years of failed economic policy promoted by George Bush and supported by Senator McCain,” Obama said as the debate at the University of Mississippi opened.
Meanwhile McCain said he, along with many Americans, had not been feeling so great about the U.S. economy these days — stark contrast to his widely-panned comment more than a week ago that the fundamentals of the economy were strong — and he welcomed Democrats and Republicans working together for a plan.
“I’m feeling a little better tonight,” McCain said. “”We have finally seen Republicans and Democrats sitting down and negotiating together and coming up with a package.”
They both cited the need for transparency and oversight in the rescue plan. 
But missing from the two senators — one of whom will be president come Jan. 20 — was a firm commitment to vote for the rescue package being crafted. Obama said the language hadn’t been crafted yet but was optimistic a deal could be struck while McCain said he hoped he could vote for it.

McCain to attend debate, Web ad claims victory already

September 26, 2008

WASHINGTON – Ah the Internet world, a place where things move very quickly — maybe too quickly in the political world.

Clinton challenges Obama to more debates

April 26, 2008

hillary.jpgEAST CHICAGO, Ind. – Democratic presidential candidates have held more than 20 debates. Evidently that’s not enough for Hillary Clinton.