Tales from the Trail

Biden hopes for Phillies’ good fortune in election

WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. – Pennsylvania native and Democratic vice presidential candidate Joe Biden hopes the Philadelphia Phillies’ baseball World Series win is a good omen for Tuesday’s presidential election.

“How about those Phillies?” Biden said at a rally in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, on Thursday.

The Philadelphia Phillies won baseball’s World Series on Wednesday against the Tampa Bay Rays, in a game watched by Biden’s wife, Jill, who like him is a rabid Phillies fan.

“I am on the campaign trail and she said: ‘Joe I am going to the (baseball) series,” Biden said.

Biden, who grew up in Scranton, Pennsylvania, said his wife appeared on a local Philadelphia radio station on Thursday and raved about the performance of Phillies pitcher Brad Ledge, who clinched the Phillies’ win by shutting down the Rays in the last inning of Wednesday’s game.

Obama leads youth vote by nearly 2-1 ratio

obama.jpgBOSTON – Democrat Barack Obama leads his Republican rival John McCain by a nearly 2-1 ratio among young voters in the race for the White House, a poll by Harvard University’s Institute of Politics showed on Wednesday.

Obama leads McCain 56 percent to 30 percent among likely young voters, according to an online survey of 2,406 18 to 24 year olds conducted by Harris Interactive for the institute between Sept. 12 and Oct. 6. Fifteen percent were undecided.

Obama’s lead is essentially unchanged from polls in July and March, the institute said.

Obama visit to North Carolina restaurant stirs mixed emotions

obama-bbq.jpgFAYETTEVILLE, N.C. – There was a sharp exchange among patrons during Barack Obama‘s visit to a barbecue restaurant on Sunday, highlighting the strong emotions the U.S. presidential race is stirring in the final weeks of the campaign.

Obama stopped by Cape Fear BBQ in Fayetteville, North Carolina, to pick up some chicken, collards and baked beans and court voters in this traditionally Republican state.

Some patrons cheered his arrival while others looked on with curiosity and surprise. One woman yelled, “Socialist, Socialist, Socialist — get out of here.” Obama was across the room at the time and did not appear to hear Diane Fanning, 54, who was among several patrons who had just come by after services at the local Presbyterian church. She said she was annoyed that the Illinois senator had stopped in at the restaurant that she regularly visits.

In debates, McCain loses blinking contest to Obama

mccain-semi-blink.jpgWASHINGTON – Republican presidential candidate John McCain may not have blinked first in his debates with Barack Obama — but he certainly blinked more often, which is not a good thing.

Candidates who blink more than their opponents in debates tend to lose presidential elections, says Boston College psychology professor J.J. Tecce, and McCain outblinked Obama during the their three debates this fall.

“People are picking up McCain’s rapid blinking and saying, ‘There’s something about him that’s awfully twitchy and nervous and I don’t think I want to vote for that guy,’” said Tecce, who has presented a paper on blinking in debates.

Clinton: Not just any woman will do for the White House

palin-vertical.jpghillary-vertical.jpgCracked. Shattered. Whatever. Forget the glass ceiling, policy trumps gender in the race for the White House as far as Hillary Clinton is concerned.

“Of course it’s exciting to have a woman on the ticket,” Clinton said in a CNN interview when asked about the vice presidential candidacy of Republican Sarah Palin.

“But that in and of itself is not enough reason … and really no one will shatter that ceiling until we have a woman serving as president or vice president,” she said in the interview broadcast on Tuesday.

Obama rakes in $9 million at Hollywood fundraisers

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. – Democrat Barack Obama raked in $9 million at fundraisers on Tuesday night flanked by celebrities. But he stopped far short of celebrating.

The White House hopeful kept the tone of his remarks  somber as he talked of the financial crisis that has cast a pall over the economy to an audience that included Pierce Brosnan, streisand2.jpgLeonardo DiCaprio, Jodi Foster and Jamie Lee Curtis.

“This should be a celebratory evening. We’ve got 48 days to go in a campaign, a campaign that started 19 months ago, at a time when a lot of folks thought we might not get here,” Obama told a reception of 800 people at the swank Beverly Wilshire Hotel.

Obama, Bill Clinton discuss 9/11, campaign, world affairs

obamaclinton.jpgNEW YORK – Barack Obama  and Bill Clinton talked over lunch on Thursday about the economy and world affairs in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks and what the former president can do to help the Democratic nominee defeat Republican John McCain in the Nov. 4 election.

In a joint statement, the two men said they had a “great conversation” during their meeting, which came on the seventh anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

“They discussed the campaign briefly but mostly talked about how the world has changed since September 11, 2001,” the statement said. “They also spoke about what the next president can do to help make the economy work for all Americans, as it did under President Clinton, and ensure safety and prosperity far beyond the coming the election.”

Cheney: Palin good candidate, can be effective VP

cheney3.jpgROME – Dick Cheney, considered one of the most powerful vice presidents in U.S. history, said Sarah Palin, a newcomer to the national political stage, was a good candidate and can be an effective vice president.
Republican John McCain’s surprise choice of the virtually unknown Alaska governor as his running mate in the contest for the White House has raised questions about whether she has the experience for an office that is next in line to be president.
“I think she’s a good candidate and I don’t see any reason why she can’t be an effective vice president,” Cheney told reporters travelling with him on a trip to Azerbaijan, Georgia, Ukraine and Italy.
Cheney, 67, a former congressman and energy executive, is considered to have wielded greater power as vice president than previous holders of that office. He was deeply involved in decision making on the Iraq war and has been one of the harshest critics of Russia in the Republican administration of President George W. Bush.
Palin, 44, a self-described “hockey mom,” is a first-term governor of Alaska and prior to that was mayor of Wasilla, a small town in that state.
In a fiery speech at the Republican convention last week, Palin touted her small-town roots and attacked her critics as out-of-touch elitists who do not understand everyday life in America.
McCain and Palin, the first female Republican vice presidential nominee, are running against Democrats Barack Obama, the first black presidential nominee, and Joe Biden, a Senate veteran, in the race for the White House that will be decided in the Nov. 4 election.
“We’ve had all kinds of vice presidents over the years and everybody brings a different set of experiences to the office and also a different kind of understanding with whoever the president is,” Cheney said.
“Each administration’s different and there’s no reason why Sarah Palin can’t be a successful vice president in a McCain administration,” he said.
“I thought her appearance at the convention was superb. I watched that with great interest. I loved some of her lines – what was the difference between a hockey mom and a pitbull? It’s lipstick,” Cheney said with a laugh. 

Photo credit: REUTERS/Konstantin Chernichkin  U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney arrives at Kiev’s airport, Sept. 4, 2008.

Click  here for more Reuters 2008 campaign coverage

72 Candles and a Running Mate

mccain1.jpgWASHINGTON – Republican White House hopeful John McCain may unwrap a surprise of his own when he celebrates his birthday next week in the battleground state of Ohio.

The Arizona senator turns 72 on Aug. 29 and plans to celebrate by naming his vice presidential pick at a rally in Dayton with 10,000 supporters, Politico.com reported .

McCain spokeswoman Brooke Buchanan would not comment on the report when reporters asked about it after his campaign plane landed in New Orleans on Monday evening.

Obama takes shirt off again, goes body surfing in Hawaii

HONOLULU – Look out, ladies. Barack Obama has taken his shirt off in public again.

The 47-year-old senator from Illinois, who created a minor sensation with a shirtless photo on his last trip to Hawaii, stripped down to his trunks on Thursday for an impromptu body surfing excursion.

Obama and a few friends waded into the water and sportily rode a few waves to the delight of other beach revelers. Earlier in the day he went snorkeling with his family.