Tales from the Trail

“He doesn’t understand” and “Bush” references pepper debate

rtx8ysz.jpgWASHINGTON – There wasn’t a “You’re no Jack Kennedy” moment at the first presidential debate of 2008. But there were several lines both White House hopefuls kept using throughout the evening as a way of getting in subtle and not-so-subtle digs at each other.
 
By our count, Democratic contender Barack Obama mentioned the unpopular President George W. Bush 10 times over the course of the 97-minute debate, trying to suggest Republican rival John McCain would represent the same as the last eight years.
 
“John mentioned me being wildly liberal. Mostly that’s just me opposing George Bush’s wrong headed policies since I’ve been in Congress,” the Illinois senator said.
 
McCain had his own way of using words to undercut his rival, focusing on Obama’s four years in the U.S. Senate versus his 22 years in the legislative body. 

He said seven different times that Obama just didn’t understand a range of issues, from strategy in Iraq to the recent conflict between Russia and Georgia.
 
“Well, I was interested in Senator Obama’s reaction to the Russian aggression against Georgia.  His first statement was, ‘Both sides ought to show restraint,’” McCain said. “Again, a little bit of naivete there. “He doesn’t understand that Russia committed serious aggression against Georgia.”
 
Obama on nine occasions said that McCain was right on various issues — sometimes in praising him but also sometimes just agreeing with a comment.  He agreed that McCain was correct about the surge of troops in Iraq dramatically cutting down violence, and he agreed that presidents had to be prudent in what they said.

Obama also said McCain was wrong on at least three occasions.

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Photo credit: Reuters/Jim Bourg (McCain and Obama pass each other on stage at debate)

Bush to make rare fundraising appearance for McCain, but without McCain

rtx68cn.jpgWASHINGTON – President George W. Bush will make a rare appearance on the campaign trail on Friday, attending a closed-door fundraiser in Oklahoma City to benefit Republican hopeful John McCain and the Republican National Committee – but the candidate will not be there.

Despite being a prolific fundraiser during his first seven years in office, Bush has only attended a handful of events this year and almost all of them have been closed to the press, which experts have attributed to his low job approval ratings. His last appearance was in Gates Mills, Ohio, near Cleveland, in late July.

Bush attended three closed-door fundraisers during a fundraising swing for McCain in late May, but they only appeared together at one event and then in public for a brief minute afterwards at the airport before Bush departed.

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.

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Inside the Tent: Ron Silver talks about terrorism

Director and actor Ron Silver talks about his support for the Bush administration’s response to the attacks of Sept. 11 in New York and Washington and why the issue of terrorism remains important to him now. This video was shot by Inside the Tent contributor John Steward.

Reuters Inside the Tent equipped more than 40 delegates and other attendees in St. Paul and the Democratic National Convention last week in Denver with video cameras to capture the conventions from the ground up. Steward is not an employee of Reuters, and any views expressed are his own.

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Click here for more Reuters 2008 election coverage.

McCain’s VP pick Palin draws boos when mentioning Hillary Clinton

WASHINGTON, Pa. – So maybe saying nice things about Hillary Clinton at a Republican rally isn’t such a good idea.
 
John McCain’s new vice presidential nominee, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, acknowledged the New York senator on Saturday when reflecting on her new found role as a national candidate.
 
The reaction from a large chunk of the audience: boos.
 
“I think as well today of two other women who came before me in national elections, and I can’t begin this great effort without honoring the achievements of Geraldine Ferraro back in 1984 and of course, Senator Hillary Clinton,” Palin said.
    
palin2.jpgBoo. Boo. Boo.
    
So much for trying to win over disaffected Clinton supporters. They, apparently, are not turning up to McCain-Palin rallies.
    
But no matter. The Alaska governor breezed on with a nod to her own historic bid, in Clinton’s wake.
    
“It was rightly noted in Denver this week that Hillary left 18 million cracks in the highest, hardest glass ceiling in America,” she said. “But thankfully, as it turns out, the women of America aren’t finished yet, and the voters will shatter that glass ceiling once and for all.”
    
The McCain campaign has made a concerted effort to win over Clinton backers who were upset at her loss in the Democratic primary to Illinois Sen. Barack Obama.
    
Palin’s presence on the ticket puts the mother of five in line to make history as the first female U.S. vice president if she and McCain beat Obama and his running mate, Delaware Sen. Joe Biden, in the Nov. 4 election.

Photo credit: Reuters/John Gress (Palin campaigns in Washington)

Saving the world, one papier-mâché head at a time

rick-fitzgerald.jpg

DENVER – “Saving the world is my hobby, I guess you could say, because I don’t play golf,” said Rick Fitzgerald, wearing a striped prison costume and holding a papier-mâché Dick Cheney head.

Moments earlier he had been wearing the Cheney head outside the Democratic National Convention chanting “Cheney in chains!” and shaking his plastic shackles for an obliging New York Post photographer. A papier-mâché Condoleezza Rice head sat at his feet.

Fitzgerald, who drove in from Longmont, Colo., was joined outside the Pepsi Center on Sunday by about a hundred protesters. But Fitzgerald doesn’t like the term.

from Ask...:

Can a new president repair relations with Europe?

A man holds a banner reading 'Obama For Chancellor' before a speech of Democratic presidential candidate Senator Barack Obama during his visit in Berlin July 24, 2008.

Presidential candidate Barack Obama spoke at the "Victory Column" in Berlin's Tiergarten park in front of thousands of Germans and tourists in his only formal address during his week-long foreign tour. He called on Europe to stand by the United States in bringing stability to Afghanistan and confronting other threats from climate change to nuclear proliferation.

Relations between the United States and Germany reached a post-war low under former Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, who strongly opposed the U.S. invasion of Iraq. He said Germany would "not click its heels" and follow President Bush into war -- a position that tapped into wells of German pacifism but infuriated Bush. But Chancellor Angela Merkel, who grew up behind the Wall in the communist East, has worked hard to repair ties with the U.S. and has emerged as one of Bush's closest allies in Europe.

Barack Obama and Angel MerkelObama and Merkel met for the first time on Thursday and touched on Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Middle East peace, climate change and the global economy during their talk.

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.

Bush makes rare public campaign fundraising appearance

WASHINGTON – President George W. Bush, despite record low job approval ratings, made a rare public appearance on Wednesday to help Michigan Republicans raise money for the November campaign and he used it to mock the campaign themes of Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama.bush-michigan.jpg
    
Bush never mentioned Obama’s name but used the Republican presidential candidate John McCain’s name 11 times throughout his 22 minutes of remarks to about 300 supporters in Livonia, Mich.
 
Obama has repeatedly used the words “hope” and “change” as themes of his campaign and to bash the Bush administration in his bid capture the White House in November. But Bush tried to turn the tables on Obama using his own words against him.
 
“The other side talks a lot about ‘hope,’ and that sums up their Iraq policy pretty well: They want to retreat from Iraq and hope nothing bad happens,” Bush said. “But wishful thinking is no way to fight a war and to protect the American people.”
 
On change, Bush said Democrats once favored lower taxes, believed in “common sense American values” and that “America should pay any price and bear any burden in the defense of liberty — but they have changed.”
 
“This isn’t the kind of change the American people want,” Bush said. Americans want change that make their lives better, their country safer. That requires changing the party control of the Congress.”

Republicans face an uphill battle retaking control of the House of Representatives because numerous lawmakers are retiring or seeking another office, while in the Senate they must defend 23 seats and Democrats have only 12 seats to guard.

Bush has made numerous appearances on the campaign trail to help Republican candidates raise money, but almost all of them in the last few months have been behind closed doors (the White House says their policy is to keep fundraisers at private residences closed to the press). Last week Bush made a public appearance in Washington to help the Republican congressional and Senate campaign committees raise some $21.5 million.

Got a hankering for some Bush history?

WASHINGTON – Hankering for a history lesson on the Bush presidency from a Democratic point of view? Then look for the “Bush Legacy Tour” bus, which will be visiting communities across the country from now until the November presidential elections. 

bushlegacybus-ext.jpgThe liberal Americans United for Change activist group launched the national tour on Tuesday with much fanfare and a lunchtime barbeque in front of the AFL-CIO union building a block away from the White House.

It’s a 28-ton, 45-foot long, bio-diesel-powered museum on wheels featuring interactive exhibits “on the worst policy failures that grew out of the Bush/conservative agenda,” touts the group.