Tales from the Trail

Obama takes on Clinton’s “electability” argument

obama3.jpg DURHAM, N.C. – Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama took aim on Monday at his rival Hillary Clinton’s argument that he is less electable than her given his recent series of troubles and because he has not been fully “vetted.”

Amid a flap over comments from his pastor, Rev. Jeremiah Wright, and other controversies, Obama has seen his poll numbers slide lately against both Clinton and the Republican candidate for November’s election, John McCain.

Obama publicly denounced Wright last week after the pastor moved back into the spotlight and repeated his inflammatory charges that the Sept. 11 attacks were in part retribution for U.S. policy and that the government spread AIDS to harm blacks.

Obama has also faced questions about his association with 1960s radical William Ayres and about why he doesn’t wear a U.S. flagpin.

The Illinois senator said those issues had hurt his campaign but did not “knock us off stride.” The fact that the impact from those problems was not greater was a sign that his candidacy was strong, he said.

Obama: You don’t have to talk tough to be tough

NEW ALBANY, Ind. – Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama on Wednesday brushed aside Hillary Clinton’s attempts to portray him as someone who lacked toughness and could not stand the heat of the media glare.obamatough.jpg

Clinton, who depicts herself as a fighter in her campaign speeches, has pounced on the Illinois senator’s critique of a television debate last week in which he was put on the defensive about issues such as whether he wears a flagpin and the fiery rhetoric of his pastor. She accused him of not being able to handle media scrutiny.

But Obama said it was the New York senator and her husband, former President Bill Clinton, who have been thin-skinned about press questions.

Bill Clinton takes on Obama, media on race comments

Bill Clinton is making news again.

Campaigning for his wife Hillary in Pennsylvania, the former president accused the Obama campaign of “playing the race card” and later lashed out at a reporter who asked him about his comments.billclinton

Could this hurt Hillary’s prospects in the must-win Keystone state, which holds its nominating contest today?

Bill Clinton was so popular among African Americans during his time in the White House that he was sometimes known as “the first black president,” but much of that goodwill evaporated after the racially charged South Carolina primary in January.

‘Why can’t I just eat my waffle?’

obama-in-pa.jpgSCRANTON, Pa. – Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama kicked off a day of campaigning in Pennsylvania by dropping by a Scranton diner for a breakfast of waffles, sausage and orange juice.
 
But the press corps went hungry — hungry for an answer that is.
 
The Illinois senator brushed aside a question from one reporter on his reaction to former President Jimmy Carter’s description of a positive meeting with leaders of the Islamist Palestinian group Hamas.
 
“Why can’t I just eat my waffle?” Obama replied.
    
Reporters traveling with the Illinois senator, fighting with his Democratic rival Hillary Clinton over Pennsylvania ahead of its vote on Tuesday, are venting frustration over a lack of access to the candidate lately. Obama has not held a press availability in 10 days, though he has given dozens of interviews to local press in Pennyslvania.
    
Republicans have pounced on Obama’s “waffle” comment, suggesting he is evading tough questions.
    
“Today, Obama continued to dodge questions from the media, responding that he just wanted to eat his waffle,” the Republican National Committee said in an email sent to reporters that included press accounts of the waffle incident at the Glider diner.
    
Both Obama and Clinton are far less accessible to the media than presumptive Republican nominee John McCain, known for holding lengthy question-and-answer sessions with reporters on his Straight Talk Express bus.
    
The sessions last so long that some reporters say they run out of questions.

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Photo credit: Reuters/Tim Shaffer (Obama greets Pennsylvania supporter)

Publisher apologizes for ‘Obama bin Laden’ gaffe

WASHINGTON – White House hopeful Barack Obama often says his “funny name” is one of the things that makes his status as the Democratic frontruobama4.jpgnner so unexpected.
    But at a luncheon with U.S. newspaper publishers and editors on Monday, a publisher made an embarrassing gaffe when asking the Illinois senator a question about the Taliban and al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden — but accidentally said “Obama” instead of “Osama.”
    “I think that was Osama bin Laden,” Obama corrected him.
    Realizing he had made an error, the publisher, Dean Singleton, chairman of the board of the Associated Press and founder of the NewsMedia Group newspaper company, apologized.
    “If I did that, I’m so sorry,” Singleton said.
    Obama made light of the mistake, drawing a mixture of laughter and some relief in the audience, which had been taken aback by the gaffe.
    “No, no, this is part of the exercise I’ve been going through for the last 15 months,” Obama said. “Which is why it’s pretty impressive that I’m still standing here.”

- Photo credit: Reuters/Jason Cohn (Obama addresses members of the Alliance for American Manufacturing)

Commentator quits radio show over Obama ‘hate’

ATLANTA – Commentator and activist Tavis Smiley has quit the syndicated “Tom Joyner Morning Show” after 12 years because of the “hate” he got from the show’s mainly black audience over his criticism of Sen. Barack Obama, Joyner sobamaman.jpgaid.

Joyner shocked listeners when he announced Smiley’s departure from the influential radio show on Friday and said he believed Smiley “can’t take the hate” he’d received from listeners who support the Democratic presidential candidate.

“We (the show and its listeners) are so emotional about this Barack Obama candidacy. If you don’t say anything for Barack Obama, you’re considered to be a hater.”

Bowling for Votes

ALTOONA, Pa – Fans of Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama might swoon at his speeches. They might stand in awe of his judgment and echo his call for change. But they probably are not impressed by his bowling skills.

The Illinois senator, who is on a six-day bus tour of Pennsylvania to “introduce himself” to the state’s voters, dropped in on a bowling alley in Altoona late on Saturday and, after chatting with some people, put on a pair of bowling shoes to try his hand in a competition with Sen. Robert Casey, who has recently endorsed him.

The candidate’s first attempt was a gutterball.

“I’ve got to get at least something,” he said as he turned around to face a growing crowd.

Obama plays “The Silence of the Lambs”

PITTSBURGH – Sen. Barack Obama held a campaign rally on Friday in the Soldiers and Sailors museum in Pittsburgh. No drama there? Well, the building was used to film a crucicasey.jpgal sequence in the movie “The Silence of the Lambs.”
For anyone not familiar with the 1991 thriller, the scene occurs when serial killer Hannibal Lecter, played by Anthony Hopkins, is locked in a large cage from which he toys with Clarice Starling, a young FBI trainee played by Jodie Foster .

It’s in this scene that she discloses to him her childhood memory of finding a slaughterhouse for lambs.

The cage is super secure but not secure enough to hold Lecter, who escapes by clubbing his guards to death, stringing one of them up from the walls and then ….