Tales from the Trail

Veep debate includes zingers … and a few gaffes

The vice presidential contenders Joe Biden and Sarah Palin offered their share of zingers and even a couple gaffes during their one and only debate on Thursday in St. Louis.

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Biden tried to link the health care plan offered by Palin and presidential hopeful John McCain to Palin’s past support of a now-famous congressional earmark to fund a bridge to a small island that was labeled the “Bridge to Nowhere.”  

“So you’re going to have to place — replace a $12,000 plan with a $5,000 check you just give to the insurance company.  I call that the ‘Ultimate Bridge to Nowhere,’” Biden said.
 
Meanwhile, Palin corrected her rival about the offshore drilling for energy resources when Biden said “drill, drill drill.” 

“The chant is ‘drill, baby, drill.’ And that’s what we hear all across this country in our rallies because people are so hungry for those domestic sources of energy to be tapped into,” she said.

Biden, who is known for his verbal miscues, managed to only have one major gaffe, rtx95sf.jpgapparently erroneously referring to Hezbollah instead of Syria when he talked about the United States and France coming to the aid of Lebanon.

Palin offers to play “stump the candidate,” but game doesn’t happen

Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin said on Wednesday she would be ready to deal with foreign policy if she and John McCain win the White House and offered to play “stump the candidate” to test herself on specific policy issues.

In their first joint “town hall meeting” with Palin taking questions from voters, an audience member asked Palin to dispel concerns that she lacked foreign policy experience. She responded by saying she expected critics to look for things to attack. “I think because I’m a Washington outsider that opponents are going to be looking for a whole lot of things that they can criticize,” she said.

palin.jpg“As for foreign policy, you know, I think that I am prepared and I know that on Jan. 20, if we are so blessed as to be sworn into office as your president and vice president, certainly we’ll be ready,” Palin said.

Somebody please buy this candidate a coffeemaker

coffee.jpgSEDONA, Arizona – Taking a few days off from the presidential race, Sen. John McCain nonetheless keeps the media on its toes with a daily, early morning trip for coffee.

The Republican presidential candidate, who is staying at his comfortable home in the hills near Sedona, has been driven with staff, Secret Service, reporters, photographer and a television crew in tow to a Starbucks.

There, he quickly gets a cup to go and returns home.

On Friday, the six-vehicle motorcade — four SUVS and two vans– drove him 19 miles roundtrip to a Starbucks in Sedona.

McCain: ending offshore drilling ban eased oil price

ASPEN, Colo. – Republican presidential contender Sen. John McCain said on Thursday the recent sharp fall in the price of oil had been helped by the end of the U.S. federal offshore drilling moratorium.

“I think several factors have contributed to the recent drop in the price of a barrel of oil. I think the practice of conservation and the reduction in our demand has probably been a major factor,” he told the Aspen Institute.

“I also don’t think it was entirely accidental that the day that the president announced lifting the federal moratorium on offshore drilling, the price of a barrel of oil dropped.”

McCain takes air out of tire pressure debate

HUNTINGTON, W. Va – Republican John McCain appeared to back down on Tuesday in his dispute with his opponent Barack Obama over tire pressure.
    
Last week in St. Louis, Obama told an audience that steps such as inflating tires to the correct levels could make a difference when it comes to conserving fuel.
    
Cue gleeful mockery from McCain. Obama was naive, inexperienced and not talking straight to the American people about energy, he said.
    
His campaign went further, distributing to reporters tire gauges engraved with the words “Obama’s energy plan.”
    
Predictably, Obama hit back calling McCain’s mockery “ignorant,” arguing his plans were being misrepresented and saying that experts backed his call over tire pressure. Equally predictably, McCain’s camp hit back.
    
The surprise came during a telephone town hall meeting McCain held on Tuesday with voters in Pennsylvania.
    
“Obama said a couple of days ago says we all should inflate our tires. I don’t disagree with that. The American Automobile Association strongly recommends it,” McCain said.
    
But he kept up his broad criticism of Obama on energy: “I … don’t think that that (inflating tires) is a way to become energy independent.”
    
The United States’ energy challenges will be a central factor in the months leading up to the election. But when it comes to how far to inflate your tires, the air seems to have gone out of the dispute.

Photo credit Reuters/Mike Blake (Gas station near San Diego)

Bloomberg’s not running for White House, but can’t stop campaigning

CHICAGO – New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has said he’s not running for president, but on Wednesday night he revved up to full campaigning mode when accepting an award from CME Group, the big futures exchanges.  rtr1zc7z.jpg

“We are desperately in need of leadership to deal with a much more competitive world,” said Bloomberg, stopping just short of announcing his candidacy for — anything.  
        
Riffing on the theme of “innovation as the essence of leadership” upon receiving CME’s Fred Arditti Innovation Award, Bloomberg electrified the well-heeled audience at the swanky Peninsula Hotel with a call for action on everything from climate change to education to immigration reform.  
    
“Choices made now will determine what kind of future our children will have. At a national level we’re working as hard as we can to stop innovation,” the Democrat-turned Republican-turned Independent said.  

Energy independence and efficiency led Bloomberg’s list of underfunded programs. “We spend one-third on that of what members of Congress spend on earmarks every year. It’s up to all of us to hold our elected officials’ feet to the fire,” Bloomberg said.  
    
Restrictions on H-1B work visas mean the United States risks losing out in a much more competitive world, Bloomberg said, adding that American capitalist success stories like Sun Microsystems, Yahoo and Google were all founded in part by immigrants.  
    
“Medicine is going overseas. Science is going overseas. We are exporting our intellectual capital, and we can’t keep doing it,” Bloomberg said “If we don’t find ways to get around that, then we really are in trouble.”  
    
Bloomberg, whose term as New York mayor ends on Dec 31, 2009, also hailed the concept of term limits — raising a few eyebrows within an audience that included Chicago’s “Mayor for Life” Richard M. Daley.