Tales from the Trail

Paint Texas blue? Kaine won’t guarantee it

WASHINGTON – New Democratic Party head Tim Kaine wants to continue to win territory from Republicans, but he’s not ready to guarantee victory in George W. Bush’s home state.

As he took control of the Democratic National Committee from outgoing chairman Howard Dean on Wednesday, Kaine said he would continue Dean’s “50 State Strategy” to win votes in conservative places like Idaho and Utah.

“We will never again be a party that writes off states or regions or people,” Kaine said. “The 50 state strategy is now and forever what Democrats do.”

Kaine noted that was among the strategy’s first beneficiaries when he ran for Virginia governor in 2005.

USA-OBAMA/But he declined to match Dean’s prediction that President Barack Obama will carry Texas when he runs for re-election in 2012. Obama lost Texas to Republican John McCain by 11 percentage points in the November election.

A fourth Senate Republican won’t seek reelection

WASHINGTON – Democrats came up just short of a winning a filibuster-proof majority of 60 in the 100-member Senate in last November’s election.  But they may do it in next year’s contest — thanks largely to a rising number of Senate Republicans calling it quits.

George Voinovich – a highly respected, two-term moderate — on Monday became the fourth Senate Republican to announce he won’t seek reelection in 2010.CAMPAIGN BUSH

Voinovich’s decision followed earlier such announcements by Republican Sens. Sam Brownback of Kansas, Mel Martinez of Florida and Kit Bond of Missouri.

Is Caroline Kennedy qualified to be a U.S. senator?

Slightly more than half of Americans say Caroline Kennedy has what it takes to serve in the U.S. Senate, according to a CNN/Opinion Research Poll. 

Kennedy, 51, is campaigning to fill the New York senate seat held by Hillary Clinton, who has been nominated for Secretary of State.

The only person who gets a vote is New York Gov. David Paterson, who will appoint any replacemUSA/ent for Clinton. 

Van Hollen agrees to stay as House Dem campaign chair

WASHINGTON – Like the manager of a championship baseball team, U.S. Rep. Chris Van Hollen has agreed to stick around to try to help chalk up another winning season.

After last week’s election, which saw Democrats expand their majority in the 435-member House of Representatives by 22 to 257, Van Hollen indicated he had had enough. He said he didn’t expect to serve another term as chairman of the House Democratic campaign committee.

But House Speaker Nancy Pelosi stepped in and asked Van Hollen to keep the job, and he agreed, party aides said.

“The speaker believed he did a great job and wanted him to stay,” one aide said.

No record turnout in U.S. election

WASHINGTON – The anticipated record turnout of voters in Tuesday’s U.S. election did not materialize, with the percentage of eligible Americans casting ballots staying virtually the same as 2004, a report said on Thursday. 

The number of Americans voting is projected to reach between 126.5 million and 128.5 million, meaning the percentage who cast a ballot will be between 60.7 percent and 61.7 percent — roughly the same as in 2004, according to Curtis Gans of the Center for the Study of the American Electorate.
    
The lower-than-expected turnout was the result of a downturn in the number and percentage of Republican voters going to the polls, he said.
    
Predictions of high turnout were fueled by an increase in voter registrations and long lines at polling booths.
 
“But we failed to realize that the registration increase was driven by Democratic and independent registration and that the long lines at the polls were mostly populated by Democrats,” Gans said.

Click here for more Reuters 2008 campaign coverage.

- Photo credit: Reuters/Danny Moloshok (Voters fill their ballots at St. Jerome Parish in Los Angeles on Nov. 4)

Lieberman offers congrats to Obama, pushes bipartisanship

WASHINGTON – Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman, previously a Democrat now an independent, bucked his colleagues a lot this year including in what some considered the ultimate betrayal — backing the Republican presidential hopeful, John McCain, and for the less than kind words he had for Democrat Barack Obama.

But after Obama’s victory, Lieberman issued a statement congratulating him on his “historic and impressive” victory.

There have been some questions about whether Lieberman might no longer be welcome in the Democratic caucus, but Sen. Charles Schumer said last month that that issue would be dealt with after the election.

Lieberman skips weekly lunch with irate Senate Democrats

(Corrected to reflect statement in last two paragraphs was by Reid’s spokesman, not Reid.)

WASHINGTON — Sen. Joseph Lieberman on Tuesday skipped the weekly luncheon meeting of congressional Democrats — many of whom denounce him as a turncoat for his support of White House contender John McCain at last week’s Republican National Convention.rtx8ewm.jpg

A number of lawmakers have even said Lieberman of Connecticut might be stripped of his chairmanship of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee in the new Congress next year if Democrats, as expected, increase their control of the Senate.

Democrats wrap up their convention, tell us what you think…

rtr21sox.jpgThe last balloon has popped, the last piece confetti has fluttered to the ground and the last word has been spoken by Democrats who wrapped up their nominating convention Thursday.

Did presidential hopeful Barack Obama win over doubters, was he able to spell out enough details about his plans if elected, and did his attacks trying to tie rival Republican John McCain to the Bush administration work?

Let us know your thoughts and what you want to see from the Republicans in St. Paul next week.

Pelosi keeps Hillary’s VP embers glowing

WASHINGTON – Pundits see Hillary Clinton fading as a possible running mate for Democrat Barack Obama. But House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Tuesday referred to her as “the big name” who “would make a great vice president.”

In an interview with Reuters on a range of political and rtx885x.jpglegislative topics (as well as her new book “Know Your Power, A Message to America’s Daughters”), Pelosi said there was a deep bench Obama could choose from in rounding out the Democratic ticket.

Pelosi was asked whether the Obama campaign had signaled Clinton was out of the running because the New York senator and ex-presidential candidate has been slotted to speak on the Tuesday of the Aug 25-28 Democratic convention. The vice presidential nominee traditionally addresses the convention on Wednesday while Obama will speak on the final evening — Thursday.

from Ask...:

Can a new president repair relations with Europe?

A man holds a banner reading 'Obama For Chancellor' before a speech of Democratic presidential candidate Senator Barack Obama during his visit in Berlin July 24, 2008.

Presidential candidate Barack Obama spoke at the "Victory Column" in Berlin's Tiergarten park in front of thousands of Germans and tourists in his only formal address during his week-long foreign tour. He called on Europe to stand by the United States in bringing stability to Afghanistan and confronting other threats from climate change to nuclear proliferation.

Relations between the United States and Germany reached a post-war low under former Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, who strongly opposed the U.S. invasion of Iraq. He said Germany would "not click its heels" and follow President Bush into war -- a position that tapped into wells of German pacifism but infuriated Bush. But Chancellor Angela Merkel, who grew up behind the Wall in the communist East, has worked hard to repair ties with the U.S. and has emerged as one of Bush's closest allies in Europe.

Barack Obama and Angel MerkelObama and Merkel met for the first time on Thursday and touched on Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Middle East peace, climate change and the global economy during their talk.