Tales from the Trail

Top Democrat dismisses Beck’s ‘non-political’ rally as blatant politics

A Washington rally that will be hosted by Fox TV’s Glenn Beck and feature conservative power broker Sarah Palin drew the wrath on Friday of the chairman of the House Democratic campaign committee.

USA/Chris Van Hollen rejected organizers’ assurances that the “Restoring Honor Rally” — expected to draw thousands of members of the conservative Tea Party movement — would be “non-political.”

In fact, Van Hollen predicted the rally would be partisan and could turn off many voters.

The event, to be held on Saturday on the National Mall — between the U.S. Capitol and Lincoln Memorial — is billed as an opportunity to “celebrate America by honoring our heroes, our heritage, our future.”

But with Beck and Palin on stage before a crush of enthusiastic followers, the rally seems ripe for partisan bashing.

Hecklers halt Obama remarks

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A persistent band of hecklers knocked President Barack Obama off message Monday night as he spoke at a fundraiser for the Democratic party and California Senator Barbara Boxer in Los Angeles. Obama was interrupted just after he launched into remarks praising Boxer as a senator who cares about the environment and is passionate about fighting for Californians.

Some folks in the audience apparently wanted to talk about something else as a group of protesters demanding the immediate repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell” kept heckling him. ” What about don’t ask, don’t tell?” one protester shouted. “We are going to do that,” Obama said at one point in response to the heckling, an apparent reference to his intention to repeal the policy restricting gays from serving in the military.

Obama tried to talk over the protesters. Then he invited them on stage. Supporters chanting “yes we can” tried to drown them out. Heckled again, a visibly irritated Obama said: “Can I just say, once  again, Barbara and I are supportive of repealing don’t ask don’t tell so I don’t know why you’re hollering.”

Now a U.S. senator, Scott Brown is ready to take on Obama

USA-POLITICS/MASSACHUSETTSFresh from a stunning election victory that shook the confidence of the national Democratic Party, Scott Brown says he’s ready for a showdown with President Barack Obama — on the basketball court.
    
Brown, known only a few weeks ago as a dude with a truck, says he challenged Obama to hoops when the two spoke by telephone on the night the Massachusetts Republican won Teddy Kennedy’s dyed-in-the-wool-Democratic-blue seat in the U.S. Senate.
    
“The only time I spoke to him was election night and I did challenge him to pick his best, and I’ll take my daughter Ayla who plays for Boston College, and we’d challenge him to a little 2-on-2. I think we’d have the upper hand,” Brown said in an interview with TV comedian Jay Leno. TELEVISION-LENO/
    
“He looks like he’s in great shape. It’d certainly be a tough game,” he said.
    
Brown didn’t mention how the president responded.
    
Obama, a hard-core hoophead, has shot baskets on the campaign trail, with U.S. troops in the field and with kids on the South Lawn of the White House. At 48, he would have a two-year advantage over the 50-year-old Brown. But as Sports Illustrated magazine notes, the president can’t dunk and doesn’t have a hoopster nickname. 
    
USA-OBAMA/Brown does have a nickname. At Tufts University, he was known as “Downtown Scotty Brown,” possibly for his long-distance jumpshots.  And that’s not all. In a given week, Brown told Leno, he swims close to 2 miles, bikes about 95 and runs 15 or 20 miles. 

If Obama’s really looking for ways to reach out to Republicans, a friendly game of basketball might make a nice change from all the ankle-tripping, elbow-jabbing, floorboard-thumping contests on Capitol Hill. 

Photo Credits: Reuters/Brian Snyder (Brown Victory); Reuters/Mario Anzuoni (Leno); Reuters/Jim Young (Obama and Young Hoopster)

The First Draft: Preparing for a fall?

Are Democrats trying to soften the blow for President Barack Obama if the Democratic candidate for Virginia governor, Creigh Deeds, loses in the November elections?OBAMA/

The Washington Post thinks so. It says in a front page story that top Democrats sense that Deeds is likely to lose in the key swing state so they’re trying to distance Obama from him.

The article cites senior administration officials who are frustrated with the way Deeds has handled his campaign, saying he refused some strategic advice. They also say he did not reach out to some key constituencies that helped Obama win Virginia in the 2008 presidential race — the first time in decades that a Democrat won in that state.

Obama tells critics to “grab a mop”

President Barack Obama fired back on Tuesday at conservative critics who say he has not accomplished enough in his first nine months in office.

He told them they should “grab a mop” to help him clean up the mess he inherited from Republican President George W. Bush. obama1

Many Republican critics say the continued sluggishness in the economy and the rise in the unemployment rate to 9.8 percent were a sign that Obama policies on the economy were not effective.

What a difference a year makes

USA/A year ago, Senator Arlen Specter was on the campaign trail in Pennsylvania — appearing for a fellow Republican senator,  John McCain, who was in an intense race for the presidency against a Democratic senator, Barack Obama. The two presidential candidates both spent a great deal of time in the swing state, which ended up going Democratic in the November election.

A year later, Specter is busy on the campaign trail again in another tough Philadelphia political battle, his own bid for reelection. But this time, the former moderate Republican is a Democrat. And he wielded the Democrats’ most formidable election weapon at an evening of fundraising on Tuesday — President Barack Obama.

Specter left the Republican party earlier this year, helping to strengthen the Democratic majority in Congress. To thank the 79-year-old, Obama had said he would stand by Specter even in a primary fight to be nominated as the Democratic candidate to retain his Senate seat in 2010.

The First Draft: Power of persuasion?

President Barack Obama has targetted healthcare reform as his top legislative priority. Now he just has to convince Congress to make it work.

OBAMA/Over the past week, Obama has stepped up pressure on lawmakers, speaking out each day about the need for an overhaul of the unwieldy system. He also has invited key lawmakers to the White House for a little personal persuasion.

Four Republican senators made the trip down Pennsylvania Avenue to see the president on Wednesday and today he’ll meet with Republican Senator Olympia Snowe and Democrat Ben Nelson. Yesterday Obama also took the opportunity of congratulating the newest congresswoman — Judy Chu of California — on her victory to make a special mention of healthcare and the need to reform the system and lower costs for Americans.

Poll: U.S. Senate leader has problems in home state

Sure it’s a long way before the November 2010 U.S. congressional election — and a lot can happen between now and then. But at this point, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada seems to be in jeopardy of becoming the second Senate leader in a half century to be voted out of office.

A poll released on Tuesday by the Las Vegas Review-Journal found that half of Nevada voters had an unfavorable view of Reid, while 38 percent had a favorable view, the newspaper said.

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Reid won reelection in 2004 to a fourth term with 61 percent of the vote. But his approval ratings have since slipped. He became Senate Democratic leader in 2005, and majority leader in 2007.

from FaithWorld:

Gallup first: more Americans now “pro-life” than “pro-choice”

America may have a president and Congress that support abortion rights, but a new Gallup poll suggests that for the first time such a stance is not the majority view.

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Gallup said on Friday that a new poll, conducted May 7 to 10, found "51 percent of Americans calling themselves 'pro-life' on the issue of abortion and 42 percent 'pro-choice.' This is the first time a majority of U.S. adults have identified themselves as pro-life since Gallup began asking this question in 1995."

"The new results, obtained from Gallup's annual Values and Beliefs survey, represent a significant shift from a year ago, when 50 percent were pro-choice and 44 percent pro-life. Prior to now, the highest percentage identifying as pro-life was 46 percent, in both August 2001 and May 2002."

Clinton has “mild allergies,” not new flu

USA/U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has twice been to Mexico in recent weeks, and so when she appeared at two State Department events on Friday with a cough and apparent cold symptoms, reporters asked an obvious question.

 Did the top U.S. diplomat possibly get the new H1N1 swine flu during her trips to Mexico in late March and with U.S. President Barack Obama last month?

“You’ll be happy to know it’s just mild allergies.  She suffers from mild allergies.  That’s all it is,” said State Department spokesman Robert Wood when asked about Clinton’s health.