Every political candidate has a tale of his hard-working origins — even sitting presidents with Harvard Law degrees who have made millions by writing best-selling books. And President Barack Obama is no exception, as he showed during a road trip on Wednesday in which he tested out what will likely be themes of his newly launched 2012 re-election campaign.
Tales from the Trail
EAST LANSING – With a little over a month to go until the Nov. 4 U.S. presidential election, U.S. Sen. Barack Obama has no time for fainters. At an outdoor rally on Wednesday at Michigan State University in East Lansing, Michigan, the Democrat was all business.
ARLINGTON, Va. – Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama likes his chances in the White House battle with Republican John McCain, telling a fundraising reception the odds of his winning are “very good.”
“Let’s face it, there weren’t too many people who thought we were going to pull this off,” Obama told a fundraiser attended by about 40 people on Monday in Arlington, Virginia, in the suburbs of Washington.
“We are now in a position where the odds of us winning are very good. But it is still going to be difficult.”
Obama said he was pleased with his trip to Europe and the Middle East — “we executed very well” — but did not expect it to give him a big bump in polls.
He said people were still evaluating his candidacy because he was a new face in national politics.
“I don’t look like any presidential candidate America has ever seen,” said Obama, the son of a black African father and white mother from Kansas who spent part of his youth in Indonesia.
“It’s not just a function of race, it’s background, experience, resume — this is new for them, and new for us as a country,” he said. He expects a close race to the end.
“We’re not going to see some huge gap develop, some huge separation develop between now and Nov. 4,” he said. “This is going to be a close election for a long time because I’m new on the national scene.
BERLIN – Barack Obama may be itching to tell the world ‘Ich bin ein Berliner’ in the same city that fell in love with John F. Kennedy for his famous 1963 address to frightened West Berliners in freedom’s most famous outpost.
But Obama’s possible trip to the German capital later this month has provoked a German domestic free-for-all — drawing page one headlines and putting new strains on the governing coalition.
Chancellor Angela Merkel, Germany’s No. 1 conservative, sent her spokesman out on Wednesday to say she’s against any “electioneering” in Berlin, while Vice Chancellor Frank-Walter Steinmeier and Berlin Mayor Klaus Wowereit, leaders from the center-left Social Democrats, said the exact opposite — that Obama would be warmly welcomed to speak in the German capital.
From the protocol perspective, Merkel has no say about who visits or speaks at the Brandenburg Gate — it’s the Berlin’s mayor decision. Neither does Steinmeier, who is the SPD’s likely candidate to run against Merkel in next year’s federal election.
So it’s remarkable that the two German heavyweights have waded into the debate with their different points of view on Obama.
Their disagreement surfaced in a tense government news conference Wednesday in Berlin where the respective spokesmen openly contradicted each other
Obama reportedly wants to come to the heart of Berlin — just a few weeks after the 60th anniversary of the U.S.-led Air Lift — while U.S. President George W. Bush spent only a few brief minutes in Berlin airport getting off his plane and into his helicopter on a two-day visit with Merkel to an isolated village 60 miles north of Berlin.
Bush never returned to Berlin after facing 10,000 anti-war protesters on his one visit to the German capital in 2002. Still very unpopular in Germany, Bush went to the provinces on his four other trips. A German opinion poll, showed recently that Obama would win 72 percent of the vote in Germany if Germans could vote in the U.S. election.
DALLAS – Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama’s promise on Tuesday of a more robust approach to faith-based social programs has been blasted from the left and the right — and raised some pointed questions from academia.
LOUISVILLE, Kentucky – Democrats are acting more like Republicans by not counting the results of the Florida and Michigan primaries and by not seating those states’ party delegates, former President Bill Clinton said on Tuesday.
WASHINGTON – White House hopeful Barack Obama often says his “funny name” is one of the things that makes his status as the Democratic frontrunner 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.”