Tales from the Trail

The First Draft, Monday, Jan. 5


President-elect Barack Obama woke up today in the tony Hay-Adams Hotel, across Lafayette Park from the White House.

Soon after sunrise, a black SUV was spotted carrying Obama’s younger daughter Sasha to her first day at Sidwell Friends School elementary campus in suburban Bethesda, Maryland. Older daughter Malia will go to Sidwell Friends’ middle school campus in Washington DC.
The Obamas arrived in Washington late Sunday, an extra-early move so the girls could start school at the beginning of the semester. Most presidents-elect arrive on January 15. That’s when the Obama family will move into Blair House, directly across the street from the White House. The new first family moves into the executive mansion on Inauguration Day, JBOXING/anuary 20.

Top news on morning TV shows was New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson’s withdrawal as Obama’s chosen commerce secretary in the face of a legal inquiry. Richardson, a former Democratic  presidential candidate, has denied wrongdoing in connection with the investigation of a California-based financial company that had done business with the New Mexico state government.

U.S. TV news shows offered a bit of chatter about Obama’s plan for up to $310 billion in tax cuts for businesses and the middle class as part of an economic stimulus package.

Obama goes to Capitol Hill today for discussions with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi or California and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada. The new Congress will be sworn in on Tuesday, launching the political year.

The First Draft, Monday Dec. 29

WASHINGTON – Israeli air attacks in Gaza dominate morning talk shows and front pages of major U.S. newspapers. The attacks pushed up oil prices by more than $3 a barrel to over $40. Gold prices also moved higher. Nevertheless, U.S. stock index futures pointed to a higher open on Wall Street in what is expected to be a light trading.tanks2

President-elect Barack Obama remains in Hawaii and President George W. Bush is at his ranch in Texas.

Winter weather extremes and dismal holiday shopping season featured on morning talk shows.

G20 family photo: Take 2

WASHINGTON – The G20 leaders found themselves in a predicament faced by many a family when trying to assemble everyone in one place at one time for a snapshot. Someone inevitably spoils the first take.

The leaders of the advanced and developing countries gathered in Washington on Saturday to talk about the global financial crisis started the day with a group photo.

They filed in to the National Building Museum and lined up smiling for the cameras to capture their bonding.

Obama “experienced our soul”-Indonesian president

Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono hailed Barack Obama on Friday for an election victory he said inspired the Southeast Asian nation where the president-elect spent four years as a youth.

“He spoke our language, knew our culture, ate our food, played with Indonesian friends from various ethnic backgrounds and through all this he experienced the inner soul of Indonesia,” Yudhoyono said in a speech in Washington.

 Students at Besuki Elementary School, Obama’s old school in Jakarta, danced euphorically while teachers wept at news of his election victory, said the Indonesian president.
Yudhoyono told his U.S.-Indonesia Society audience he came to Washington carrying an album of old photos of Obama and his assembled by childhood friends to give to the president-elect.

Radio addresses to go high-tech in Obama presidency

CHICAGO- Call it the e-fireside chat.

U.S. President-elect Barack Obama plans to continue his close links with the Internet by making the weekly radio address into a YouTube video that he will post on his Web site www.change.gov, aides said on Friday.

Obama, who takes office on Jan. 20, will record this Saturday’s Democratic weekly radio address as his first video and audio address. He will continue the tradition during his presidency.

“No president-elect or president has ever turned the radio address into a multimedia opportunity before,” said transition spokesman Nick Shapiro.

President-elect Obama keeping low profile in Chicago

CHICAGO – Anybody seen President-elect Barack Obama lately?

The press pool covering him sure hasn’t.

As he delves deeply into planning his transition to the White House, Obama has been keeping a low-profile in Chicago, after his high-profile visit to the White House on Monday.

He was seen publicly on Tuesday when he laid a Veteran’s Day wreath with disabled Iraq war veteran Tammy Duckworth.

But that’s been about it. On Thursday morning, Obama dropped his two daughters off at their school in the morning. They hopped out of the vehicle, but Obama did not.

Welcome to Front Row Washington: Tracking U.S. politics

WASHINGTON – With the election over, it is time to say happy trails to Reuters “Tales from the Trail” election blog and give a warm welcome to “Front Row Washington” which will provide readers a view from Reuters correspondents working the political beat around town and the country.

Reuters has a front row seat to all the action in Washington, whether in the White House, Pentagon, State Department briefing rooms or in halls of Congress. From here we will offer readers insight, analysis and behind-the-scenes stories as Democrats move into the White House and Republicans try to influence policy decisions.

We heartily thank all our readers over the last year or so who have made this blog a success and invite you to stay tuned because it will be a fun ride over the coming years.

Cub scouts get impromptu tour of Biden’s plane

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Democratic vice presidential candidate Joe Biden gave a group of Cub Scouts an impromptu tour of his campaign aircraft, showing them the cockpit and handing out Halloween candy.

The young scouts, some of them wearing red plastic fireman hats, had been visiting firefighters at the airport when Biden, on a campaign swing through northern Florida, arrived with his entourage.

“Have you ever seen a big plane before, up close?,” the senator asked the boys. “You guys wanna come and see my plane? I’m gonna get in trouble but come on.”

Last Waltz for McCain in New Hampshire?

PETERBOROUGH, N.H. — On Sunday night, John McCain returned to where it all began.

The Republican presidential candidate flew to New Hampshire for one last question-and-answer session with the voters who put him on the map in 2000 and brought his campaign back from the dead in January of this year.

“I come to the people of New Hampshire … and ask again to let me go on one more mission,” McCain said at the Peterborough town hall.

Biden shows frustration at being reined in

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Democratic vice presidential candidate Joe Biden displayed some frustration at being tightly managed by the Obama campaign for fear he might go “off message.”

Speaking to students at the University of Florida in Gainesville Sunday, Biden appeared to stray from the text in front of him and took his eyes off the teleprompter.

What he said was not controversial — that he was more passionate about America’s prospects than when he first ran for the Senate in 1972 — but it was obviously not in the prepared script.