Tales from the Trail

McCain, praising Texas leaders, almost “forgets” Bush

DALLAS – It’s tough to think of everybody sometimes.

Republican presidential candidate John McCain held a fundraiser in Dallas on Monday and kicked off his remarks by praising many of the leaders that Texas had produced.

There was Kay Bailey Hutchison, a fellow senator who accompanied McCain on his plane from Washington.

John Tower got a shout-out, as did Phil Gramm, who McCain described as his dearest friend and the smartest senator he had ever known.

“This state has a legacy of sending great senators to the United States Senate,” McCain said.

Hmmm. Any other leaders from Texas come to mind?

“The state of Texas has provided great representation in the United States Senate,” he said. “So — and in the White House of the United States of America as well. I forgot to mention that.”

Ex-Bush spokesman hints at possible Obama vote

rtx6974.jpgWASHINGTON – Former White House spokesman Scott McClellan, whose explosive new book brimming with withering criticism of his former bosses in Bush administration, said he is thinking about voting for Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama.

In an interview Thursday night with MSNBC’s “Countdown with Keith Olbermann,” the former spokesman for President George W. Bush said he was “intrigued by what Sen. Obama has been running on about changing the way Washington works.” 

In his tell-all book, “What Happened — Inside the Bush White House and Washington’s Culture of Deception,” presents himself as a one-time true Bush believer who mistakenly fell in line behind a propaganda campaign to sell the war in Iraq.

Power of presidency brings in dollars for Kansas hopeful

rtx69ml.jpgBUCYRUS, Kan. – Ah, the power of the presidency on the campaign trail.

President George W. Bush swooped in on Thursday to help Kansas State Sen. Nick Jordan roughly double the amount of money he has raised for his campaign to knock off Democratic Rep. Dennis Moore.

Jordan has raised about $388,000 through the end of March according to Federal Election Commission records. That’s in contrast to the almost $1 million that four-term Moore has raised in an effort to keep his seat in a fairly moderate district that includes numerous suburbs of Kansas City.

Bush helped Jordan and the Kansas Republican Party raise at least $435,000, with the lion’s share of the money going to the candidate, according to his campaign manager Dustin Olson.

Bush on campaign trail – McCain’s secret?

PARK CITY, Utah – Republican White House hopeful John McCain wants help from President George W. Bush to raise money for his campaign, but has done plenty to downplay the unpopular president’s presence on the trail.
 
Bush headlined three closed-door fundraisers in Arizona and Utah on Tuesday and Wednesday, hauling in millions of dollars for McCain but there was only a brief public glimpse of the two men together, for less than a minute. Plus, McCain skipped two of the events.
 
Bush’s fundraiser in Arizona with McCain was originally scheduled to be open to  reporters, but McCain’s campaign keeps its fundraisers closed to the press so the event was moved to a private home to keep it out of the public eye.
 
rtx68cn.jpgMcCain’s campaign also refused to release any details about how much Bush was helping raise at the three events, but the one with McCain present brought in roughly $2.5 million, according to sources close to the campaign who declined to be identified.
 
Details from the other two fundraisers were scarce, though the one Wednesday evening in the posh ski resort area of Park City, Utah, was hosted by Mitt Romney, a former investment banker who had been a McCain rival in the hunt for the 2008 Republican presidential nomination.
 
Democrats have tried to paint McCain as no different than the current White House occupant, arguing that the Arizona senator would represent a “third term” of Bush if elected to the White House in November, citing his steadfast support of Bush’s plan for the Iraq war and making tax cuts permanent.
 
In addition to limiting public exposure with Bush, McCain has differed with him on how to address climate change and said he would pursue nuclear arms reduction talks with Russia and China as part of a foreign policy that brings back “broad-minded internationalism and determined diplomacy.”
 
The growing distance between the two brings up the question of how McCain will handle Bush at the Republican National Convention in Minneapolis-St. Paul in early September.

- Photo credit: Reuters/Kevin Lamarque (McCain sees Bush off at the Phoenix airport after a private fundraiser.)

Bush’s laws will be scrutinized if I become president, Obama says

rtx69fr.jpgDENVER – Maybe it’s his background teaching constitutional law.

If elected president, Democratic White House hopeful Barack Obama said one of the first things he wants to do is ensure the constitutionality of all the laws and executive orders passed while Republican President George W. Bush has been in office.

Those that don’t pass muster will be overturned, he said.

During a fund-raiser in Denver, Obama — a former constitutional law professor at the University of Chicago Law School — was asked what he hoped to accomplish during his first 100 days in office.

“I would call my attorney general in and review every single executive order issued by George Bush and overturn those laws or executive decisions that I feel violate the constitution,” said Obama

Bush money train to hit the road, nary a sighting

WASHINGTON – President George W. Bush will hit the campaign trail next week to rustle up some badly needed cash for Republican candidates — including presidential hopeful John McCain — but catching a glimpse of him in action will be fleeting.

rtr1zmjx.jpgBush will crisscross the Rocky Mountains Tuesday through Thursday from New Mexico to Arizona to Utah to Kansas raising money for McCain at three events and Republican congressional candidates at two others. They are all closed to the media.

“The reason that they’re closed is that the McCain campaign has a practice of having their fundraisers as closed press,” said White House spokeswoman Dana Perino. Bush has permitted the media attend fundraisers at hotels and other similar venues but not at private residences (like the other two fundraisers on the trip).

Bush appeasement comment stirs up U.S. political race

WASHINGTON – President George W. Bush stirred up the U.S. presidential campaign Thursday by suggesting that Democratic front-runner Barack Obama’s pledge to talk to Iran’s leader amounted to “the false comfort of appeasement.”

“Some seem to believe we should negotiate with terrorists and radicals, as if some ingenious argument will persuade them they have been wrong all along,” Bush said in a speech to the Israeli parliament marking Israel’s 60th anniversary.

Without mentioning Obama by name, he compared “this foolish delusion” to the appeasement of the Nazis ahead of World War Two. 

John Mellencamp rocks Clinton campaign

mellencamp.jpgINDIANAPOLIS – Rock star John Mellencamp played for Hillary Clinton in his home state of Indiana on Saturday, just a few days after he played for her rival, Barack Obama.

“This country’s got to change, and you’re the people who can change it,” he told a crowd of Clinton supporters shivering in an evening chill in White River State Park in Indianapolis.

Mellencamp, an Indiana native who still lives in the state, then launched into “Our Country,” a song often played at Clinton campaign events.

Jenna Bush demurs on 2008 White House race

rtr1ztb9.jpgWASHINGTON – Most of the Bush clan have already thrown their support behind the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, Sen. John McCain, with one new notable exception — President George W. Bush’s daughter Jenna.

The president rolled out the red carpet at the White House last month to endorse McCain’s candidacy after he clinched the delegates for the Republican nomination. The White House hosted a lunch and Rose Garden photo-op for the Arizona senator.

When interviewed on CNN’s “Larry King Live” Wednesday night to promote a children’s book she wrote with her mother Laura, Jenna left the door open to possibly backing another candidate.

Pennsylvania Democratic voters see U.S. recession already

rtr1z301.jpgWASHINGTON – One interesting tidbit that came out of the exit polling from Pennsylvania Democratic voters is that a large majority believe the U.S. economy is already in recession — contrary what the current president said on Tuesday.
    
A whopping 88 percent of voters in Pennsylvania — a state trying to transition from steel and coal industries to high-tech and medical research — said the U.S. economy was in a recession, with 42 percent saying it was a serious recession and 47 percent said it was a moderate contraction, according to exit poll data on CNN’s Web site (page 5 of data).
 
On Tuesday, President George W. Bush cited the most recent economic data showing small growth in the fourth quarter of 2007. But he also acknowledged that the first quarter figures had not yet been released.
 
“We’re not in a recession.  We’re in a slowdown,” Bush said after meetings with leaders of Canada and Mexico. “We haven’t had first quarter growth statistics yet. But there’s no question we’re in a slowdown.”
 
Democratic presidential hopefuls Sens. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama have both said the economy was in a recession as has Republican presumptive nominee Sen. John McCain.
 
But White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said on Wednesday such pronouncements were a little early in the game. 
    
“We don’t have data yet and it’s a little premature to declare it so definitively as a recession because the data isn’t in,” she told reporters.
 
The Commerce Department is due to release the GDP figures for the first quarter on April 30, which is also when the U.S. Federal Reserve’s interest rate-setting committee will announce whether it is cutting rates again. 

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- Photo credit: Reuters/Mario Anzuoni (shoppers browse food aisles at discount retailer Wal-mart.)