Tales from the Trail

‘Why can’t I just eat my waffle?’

obama-in-pa.jpgSCRANTON, Pa. – Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama kicked off a day of campaigning in Pennsylvania by dropping by a Scranton diner for a breakfast of waffles, sausage and orange juice.
 
But the press corps went hungry — hungry for an answer that is.
 
The Illinois senator brushed aside a question from one reporter on his reaction to former President Jimmy Carter’s description of a positive meeting with leaders of the Islamist Palestinian group Hamas.
 
“Why can’t I just eat my waffle?” Obama replied.
    
Reporters traveling with the Illinois senator, fighting with his Democratic rival Hillary Clinton over Pennsylvania ahead of its vote on Tuesday, are venting frustration over a lack of access to the candidate lately. Obama has not held a press availability in 10 days, though he has given dozens of interviews to local press in Pennyslvania.
    
Republicans have pounced on Obama’s “waffle” comment, suggesting he is evading tough questions.
    
“Today, Obama continued to dodge questions from the media, responding that he just wanted to eat his waffle,” the Republican National Committee said in an email sent to reporters that included press accounts of the waffle incident at the Glider diner.
    
Both Obama and Clinton are far less accessible to the media than presumptive Republican nominee John McCain, known for holding lengthy question-and-answer sessions with reporters on his Straight Talk Express bus.
    
The sessions last so long that some reporters say they run out of questions.

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Photo credit: Reuters/Tim Shaffer (Obama greets Pennsylvania supporter)

Publisher apologizes for ‘Obama bin Laden’ gaffe

WASHINGTON – White House hopeful Barack Obama often says his “funny name” is one of the things that makes his status as the Democratic frontruobama4.jpgnner so unexpected.
    But at a luncheon with U.S. newspaper publishers and editors on Monday, a publisher made an embarrassing gaffe when asking the Illinois senator a question about the Taliban and al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden — but accidentally said “Obama” instead of “Osama.”
    “I think that was Osama bin Laden,” Obama corrected him.
    Realizing he had made an error, the publisher, Dean Singleton, chairman of the board of the Associated Press and founder of the NewsMedia Group newspaper company, apologized.
    “If I did that, I’m so sorry,” Singleton said.
    Obama made light of the mistake, drawing a mixture of laughter and some relief in the audience, which had been taken aback by the gaffe.
    “No, no, this is part of the exercise I’ve been going through for the last 15 months,” Obama said. “Which is why it’s pretty impressive that I’m still standing here.”

- Photo credit: Reuters/Jason Cohn (Obama addresses members of the Alliance for American Manufacturing)

Bowling for Votes

ALTOONA, Pa – Fans of Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama might swoon at his speeches. They might stand in awe of his judgment and echo his call for change. But they probably are not impressed by his bowling skills.

The Illinois senator, who is on a six-day bus tour of Pennsylvania to “introduce himself” to the state’s voters, dropped in on a bowling alley in Altoona late on Saturday and, after chatting with some people, put on a pair of bowling shoes to try his hand in a competition with Sen. Robert Casey, who has recently endorsed him.

The candidate’s first attempt was a gutterball.

“I’ve got to get at least something,” he said as he turned around to face a growing crowd.

Richardson endorsement: just for Hispanics?

obama-richardson.jpgSALEM, Ore. – Conventional wisdom suggests New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson’s endorsement of Sen. Barack Obama ‘s bid for the Democratic nomination matters most among Hispanic voters where, as a Hispanic himself, Richardson could have most influence.

Following that logic, the endorsement would have made more impact before Texas primary on March 5 or, even better, before Super Tuesday’s primary in California. Sen. Hillary Clinton won the big Hispanic vote in both states handily.
The point was made by Clinton’s campaign strategist Mark Penn.

“You know, I think New Mexico is a state that, actually, we won,” he said. “And if Senator Obama’s campaign wanted to follow what they tell everyone, they certainly would be telling Governor Richardson to be casting his pledged delegate to us.