Tales from the Trail

Obama has ‘better stuff’ to do than birth certificate ‘sideshows’

President Barack Obama tried to put the kibosh on birther speculation by releasing his Hawaiian birth certificate and calling questions about the authenticity of the document a distraction from bigger issues by “sideshows and carnival barkers.”

“We do not have time for this kind of silliness,” he said to reporters after the White House released a long-form copy of his birth certificate. Potential Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump stirred up the controversy in recent weeks by demanding Obama prove he was born in Hawaii, not Kenya.

“We’ve got better stuff to do.  I’ve got better stuff to do,” Obama said. “We’ve got big problems to solve, and I’m confident we can solve them, but we’re going to have to focus on them, not on this.”

Here’s some of that “better stuff” Obama has on his plate:

Probably a good thing he isn’t going to the royal wedding.

Photo credit: Reuters/Mike Segar (fire breathing at the Coney Island Sideshow school, April 10, 2008)

Washington Extra – Major breach

pentagonIn this post-9/11, ultra-high security era, it is hard to believe that the bomb-proofing specs of a new Defense Department building in the DC area would be on public view. Then again, the Internet is a tough beast to manage.

Reuters reporters Mark Hosenball and Missy Ryan discovered the sensitive information about Mark Center — where 6,400 Defense Department personnel are scheduled to move later this year — on a public website maintained by the Army Corps of Engineers.

Out of concern for the security of personnel who will work there, Reuters is not disclosing most of the details in the 424-page document stamped “For Official Use Only.”

Obama on conspiracy theories, birth certificates

obama_lightsPresident Barack Obama says most Americans are confident that he is American-born and bred and says the “birther” issue could be a problem for Republican challengers in the 2012 presidential campaign.

Obama addressed the persistent questions about his place of birth when he was invited, during an ABC News interview, to size up his potential opponents.

He was also asked his thoughts on Donald Trump’s rise to the top of the Republican field on “fantasies” about the president’s background.

And then there were two… Republicans exploring presidential bid

Two Republicans have now stepped up to the plate! Well, technically they have stepped up to the plate to consider stepping up to the plate. USA-POLITCS/REPUBLICANS

Mitt Romney and Tim Pawlenty are the first to declare their intentions to explore a possible run for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination. Opinion polls show they have their work cut out for them.

The two Republicans who topped the list of potential candidates that Republicans would likely support for the party nomination were not Romney or Pawlenty in a new  CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll.

CPAC victory in hand, Ron Paul takes on Tea Party

USA-POLITICS/REPUBLICANSLibertarian Ron Paul, a godfather of the Tea Party movement, isn’t altogether happy with his political progeny these days.

Fresh from victory in last week’s CPAC presidential straw poll, the Republican congressman from Texas laments to MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” that some Tea Partiers aren’t measuring up when it comes to the tough defense and entitlement program cuts he believes are needed to save the United States from economic cataclysm.

“They don’t want you to touch Social Security. They don’t want you to touch anything but Obamacare,” Paul says. “Some of them are real Republicans and they wouldn’t dare touch Bush’s increase in medical care costs, you know, prescription health programs.”

Trump accepts high marks for CPAC

USA-POLITICS/Donald Trump went to CPAC this week and aced his performance as a prospective White House Wannabe. Any doubts? Just ask him.

“I tell the truth. I tell it like it is, and people understand what I’m saying, and the place did go crazy,” The Donald tells MSNBC’s Morning Joe today.  ”That’s what I said in the speech. And that’s why I got 10 standing ovations.”

Remarks like that, taken out of context, might sound like the words of a talking ego.

Trump sees China from the White House

RTR2EFAB_Comp-150x150Billionaire developer Donald Trump might like to be president. And if he were, he’d bring a hard view of China to the White House.

“I’d tax China,” he tells ABC News in an interview. “They laugh at us. They feel we’re fools. You know, they’re getting away with absolute murder. The products we used to make in this country, they’re making them in China. We’re rebuilding China.”

Trump, who set up an exploratory presidential committee in 1999, said he’ll decide on a 2012 White House run by June.

Washington Extra – Trump cards

The “enthusiasm gap” was always the Democrats’ biggest problem heading into the November midterm elections, and conversely also their biggest hope. votersDemocrats have told poll after poll they were less likely to vote than their Republican counterparts. If only Democrats could enthuse their supporters, strategists have been hoping, then maybe the party could still trump the Republicans in some tight races.

So the Democrats will be pleased today with the results of our latest Reuters/Ipsos poll from California, which not only shows their candidates leading in the race for the Senate and the governor’s office, but also shows that enthusiasm gap narrowing slightly. Some 75 percent of Democrats now say they are certain to vote, up from 60 percent in June. Comparative numbers for Republicans are 83 percent now, up from 73 percent in June.

This tends to support evidence from other polls that the enthusiasm gap could be closing, giving Democrats a flicker of hope of avoiding a rout, as political correspondent John Whitesides reported last Friday. Add to that, some evidence from an ABC/Washington Post poll that voters are losing their enthusiasm for Tea Party candidates, and things are looking a little less grim for the Dems this evening.

The First Draft: Gaddafi, the tent and The Donald

UE-AFRICA/Official Washington is gazing northward this morning toward New York and the United Nations, where President Barack Obama will be followed in the General Assembly by Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi. The big question in the blogosphere is not what Obama will tell the gathered diplomats of the world — the White House has indicated he will stress a new tone in foreign policy — but where Gaddafi spent the night.

Unlike the rest of the assembled envoys, Gaddafi prefers a Bedouin tent to a hotel (hates elevators, reportedly) but his plans to pitch a tent in the suburban town of Bedford, New York, hit a snag with local authorities. Construction of the tent, featuring draperies with a camel print, was halted on Tuesday. ABC News reported that he bedded down in Manhattan close to the United Nations.

ITALY-GADDAFI/The titillation factor grew when it was discovered that the estate in Bedford was owned by none other than Donald Trump, New York real estate magnate and publicity magnet extraordinaire.

The First Draft: White House wooing comes in waves

OBAMA/It’s a busy day at the White House, with waves of lawmakers moving in for talks with President Barack Obama, in between a press statement and before a commencement address.

Wave One: House Democratic leaders — Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California, Majority Leader Steny Hoyer of Maryland, Ways and Means Chairman Charles Rangel of New York and Education and Labor Chairman George Miller and Energy and Commerce Chairman Henry Waxman, both of California — come to discuss health care.

Wave Two: Senate leaders from both parties — Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada and Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy of Vermont, both Democrats, and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and ranking Republican Jeff Sessions of Alabama — talk with the president about a replacement for retiring Supreme Court Justice David Souter.