Tales from the Trail

Obama ad fires celebrity charge back at McCain

combo.jpgWashington – Barack Obama is firing back against John McCain’s ad ridiculing the Democratic candidate’s popularity. Obama’s campaign on Monday released a counter attack ad accusing McCain of being “Washington’s biggest celebrity.”

The ad features McCain’s guest appearances on NBC’s comedy show “Saturday Night Live” and on talk shows that usually host celebrity guests.

It is unclear whether the new ad will prompt the kind of news coverage generated by McCain’s ad accusing Obama of being a celebrity like Paris Hilton, but Obama’s hard hitting ad accuses McCain of embracing Washington lobbyists “running his low road campaign.”

The 30-second ad also shows pictures of McCain hugging President George W. Bush and accuses him of “lurching to the right, then the left, the old Washington dance, whatever it takes.”

Click here to see Obama ad, which will start airing on U.S. cable stations on Tuesday.

Is the media in love with Obama?

Republican presidential hopeful John McCain apparently feels just a little jilted by the media lately given all the attention being paid to the trip by Democratic White House rival Barack Obama to Iraq, Afghanistan, the Middle East and Europe.rtr20ejl.jpg

All three broadcast networks sent their anchors overseas to interview Obama during his travels. McCain has been maintaining his domestic campaign schedule, raising money and attending rallies in Maine, New Hampshire and Pennsylvania.
McCain this week also tussled with the New York Times over an opinion piece he penned to respond to an op-ed Obama wrote about the Iraq war that ran in the newspaper. The Times sought revisions to his proposed piece, a request that McCain’s campaign rejected.

“The media is in love with Barack Obama,” the McCain campaign said in an e-mail to his supporters. “If it wasn’t so serious, it would be funny.”
To generate a little of his own buzz, the Arizona senator’s campaign pieced together clips of television news talking heads (lots of MSNBC’s Chris Matthews) professing how enamored they were of Obama and discussing the media’s purported love affair with the Democratic candidate.
They put the video to the music of two different love songs — Frankie Valli’s “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You” and “My Eyes Adored You.” They asked supporters to vote for their favorite, and the campaign said the winning one would be aired.
Is the media infatuated with Obama or covering a legitimate news story?

Bush Sr. praises McCain, muses about history and his son

KENNEBUNKPORT, Maine – Former President George H.W. Bush doesn’t advise his son, won’t criticize Barack Obama and wants John McCain to be the next occupant of the White House.

That was the gist on Monday after he hosted the presumptive Republican presidential candidate at the lush Bush family compound in Maine.

Bush, the 41st president of the United States, had nothing but praise for McCain, the man he hopes will succeed his son, George W. Bush.

McCain: Quality of candidates makes VP search tough

ALBUQUERQUE – Republican presidential candidate John McCain said Tuesday his search for a vice presidential running mate is proving difficult because he has many qualified candidates.

rtr1ytqq.jpgA host of high-profile names have been circulating for weeks who McCain might be considering for vice president, including former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, Florida Gov. Charlie Crist and Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty.

At a town hall meeting in Albuquerque, McCain specifically took a question from a youngster described as a reporter, and the youth asked him about his vice presidential search.

Taking cue from White House, McCain talks economy in new radio address

mccain-wash-pic.jpgPHOENIX – Part of the drill when running for the highest office in the United States is simply looking  and sounding  presidential.

Cue John McCain. The Arizona senator and Republican presidential candidate started a weekly radio address on Saturday, modeled after President George W. Bush’s regular broadcast ritual.

“Good morning. I’m John McCain, and this week I’ve been on the road in Colorado, Ohio, Michigan, Minnesota, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin,” the candidate said in his first address, according to a copy of the remarks.

Clinton and Obama as Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire?

clintonobama.jpgNEW YORK – Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama as Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire — that’s how Sen. Clinton put it on Thursday at a women’s breakfast where she joined the Democratic White House hopeful to campaign for him in New York.

She said Obama had noted that she looked rested since she ended her campaign against him for the Democratic nomination, and she told him she’d been exercising for a change.

“During the campaign …  Barack would get up faithfully every morning and go to the gym. I would get up and have my hair done,” she said as she introduced him.

McCain makes mountaintop journey to visit Billy Graham

billy-graham.jpgMONTREAT, N.C. – Billy Graham is as close to a religious icon in American politics as anyone, so it’s no surprise that a U.S. presidential candidate would seek his blessing.

On Sunday Republican John McCain did just that, essentially, traveling to the ailing evangelist’s mountaintop home to meet and pray with him and son Franklin, who heads the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.

“They’re great leaders in this nation and I appreciate the opportunity to visit with them and I am very grateful for the time they spent with me,” McCain said after their meeting.

McCain says: “Obama’s word cannot be trusted”

mccain-pic.jpgLOUISVILLE, Ky. – Can people trust what Barack Obama says?

Republican presidential candidate John McCain said on Saturday that, at least in some instances, they shouldn’t.

Campaign finance was the issue at hand. McCain, speaking at a Republican fundraiser that netted some $2 million, slammed the Illinois senator and presumptive Democratic nominee for going back on a promise to take public funds during the general election if his Republican counterpart did the same.

“This election is about trust and trusting people’s word,” McCain said. “Unfortunately, apparently on several items, Senator Obama’s word cannot be trusted.”

Obama raps McCain adviser over terrorism comment

LOS ANGELES – Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama on Tuesday criticized a John McCain adviser who was quoted as saying a Sept. 11-type attack before the November election would benefit the Republican White House hopeful.
But Obama stopped short of calling for the firing of Charlie Black, McCain’s top political adviser.
“There are certain things that should transcend politics and the prospect of a terrorist attack on American soil is one of them,” Obama told reporters on his campaign plane while traveling to Los Angeles.
“I think, factually, he’s wrong,” Obama said. He called the foreign policy under Republicans in the last few years disastrous and cited the failure to catch al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden and renewed violence in Afghanistan as examples.
“So I’m happy to have that debate about who is actually going to be stronger on terrorism,” Obama said.
Fortune magazine said Black, in discussing how national security was McCain’s strong suit, had said when asked about another terrorist attack on U.S. soil that “certainly it would be a big advantage to him.”
Black apologized for the remarks and McCain disavowed the comment. “I cannot imagine why he would say it. It’s not true,” McCain said, adding he had worked hard since the Sept. 11 attack to prevent another such attack.
Obama, pressed on whether Black should step down from his role advising McCain, said, “I leave it up to John McCain.”

Click here for more Reuters 2008 campaign coverage.

Picture credit: Reuters/Steve Marcus. Obama speaks during a campaign visit to the Las Vegas Springs Preserve in Las Vegas, Nevada, June 24, 2008.

Huckabee not going for VP job — or is he?

huckabee.jpgTOKYO – Mike Huckabee is not running — or maybe he is.

The marathon man, who lost 110 pounds (50 kg) by hitting the road and advocating healthy living after he was diagnosed with diabetes in 2003, has a painful inflammation of the heel known as plantar fasciitis, and he is walking around the Imperial Palace in the Japanese capital gingerly.
Whether he will take a walk with presumptive Republican Presidential nominee, Sen. John McCain, as vice presidential nominee is another question requiring equally careful footwork.
Speaking with Reuters less than five months before the U.S. presidential election and three months ahead of the Republican convention, the former Arkansas governor was interested but self-deprecating when asked if he would be the party’s No. 2.
“I don’t truly believe that’s probably going to happen and I’ve moved on to doing other things.”
Those projects include the trip to Japan and lectures at Tohoku University in northern Miyagi Prefecture, as well as Fox News, which hired the former Republican presidential hopeful as a political commentator leading up to the national election.
But Huckabee quickly noted that did not preclude being on the other side of the camera in November.
“I’m very happy and proud to be able to do some commentary and develop a programme with the Fox News Channel,” he said.
“But that doesn’t mean if there was an opportunity to run somewhere out in the future, if not this year some other time — I’m not going to take myself completely off the stage.”

Huckabee has called the vice presidential spot an offer no one could refuse, but says he doesn’t expect to be running to the phone anytime soon.
“It would be a real surprise if I got that call.”

- Reporting by Dan Sloan    

- Photo credit: Reuters/John Gress (Huckabee pauses during a news conference in Appleton, Wisconsin in February, 2008)