Tales from the Trail

The First Draft: After the crash, pushing for financial reform

President Barack Obama tries to revive his push for financial reform on Monday.The president heads to Wall Street on the anniversary of the collapse of Lehman Brothers to try to make his case for stricter regulatory oversight of U.S. markets.OBAMA/He’ll also be discussing how he plans to wind up government involvement in the financial sector.The federal government took large stakes in banks and other firms over the past year as it tried to stabilize the economy in the midst of recession and financial collapse.Obama’s financial reform effort has hit resistance in Congress, as has his bid for an overhaul of the U.S. healthcare system.A new poll in The Washington Post on Monday showed public opposition to Obama’s healthcare reform is high but could ease a little if the president dropped his bid for a government-run public health plan to compete with private insurers.Obama argues a public plan is needed to ensure private insurers face enough competition to force them to control costs.The late Senator Edward Kennedy’s memoir “True Compass” is out on Monday and his sons, Representative Patrick Kennedy and Ted Kennedy Jr., spoke with the morning shows about their father and his book.Patrick Kennedy recalled the first time he became aware of the constant threats his father faced.KENNEDY/“On the campaign trail in 1980, I remember one time I was with my dad and someone took one of the (campaign) buttons … They took the pin out and they jammed his hand when he came by,” Kennedy said.”I remember the Secret Service after the event were wondering whether he’d gotten poisoned because they didn’t know it was a button he’d gotten stuck with. It was the first time that I remember ever feeling that this was something that was a daily part of his life that he had to worry about.”Patrick Kennedy said the book, completed over the past year as his father struggled with the cancer that killed him, was a revelation to him.”Everybody knows my dad wasn’t the most sentimental, emotive guy,” he said. “For us this was an enormous revelation, in a sense, because this book really was one where he talked about his feelings and emotions at various points in his life.”For more Reuters political news, click here.Photo credit: Reuters/Larry Downing (Obama meets with economic team in March); Reuters/Kevin Lamarque (People line up to sign condolence book at Kennedy’s Senate office after his death in August)

After a year’s respite, lipstick-wearing pig returns to US politics

The lipstick-wearing pig is back, making its annual appearance in the political discourse of the country.

The last time it was out and about, eerily enough, was a year ago Wednesday , tripping from Barack OBAMA/Obama’s tongue as the U.S. senator campaigned for the presidency.

Republicans don’t know what real change is, he told a crowd in Lebanon, Virginia.

The First Draft: Before Obama’s speech, Sarah Palin brings up “death panels”

PALIN/As Washington focuses on President Barack Obama’s address to Congress on healthcare reform, another voice is demanding to be heard — or at least read — on this same subject.

Sarah Palin, former Alaska governor and former Republican vice-presidential candidate, weighed in on her “fundamental” disagreement with the president’s plan. And yes, she brought up those “death panels” that raised such a furor when she mentioned them in a Facebook post in August.

Writing in Wednesday’s Wall Street Journal, Palin took aim at the Obama administration’s idea for a congressionally appointed Independent Medicare Advisory Panel, saying this would be “an unelected unaccountable group of experts charged with containing Medicare costs.”

The First Draft: Drag out that vacation a bit

For some Americans — including the president – there’s just one last week of summer before work and school get back into full swing. 

OBAMA/President Barack Obama found out that as president, sometimes a vacation isn’t always a break from work. So he decided to extend his time off a bit by going to Camp David next week after returning from Martha’s Vineyard.

While on the Vineyard Obama interrupted his family holiday a couple of times. First, to announce his renomination of Ben Bernanke as chairman of the Federal Reserve and then to speak after his friend, Senator Edward Kennedy, died of cancer.

The First Draft: Kennedy dies of cancer at 77

Focus in Washington turned to memories of Edward Kennedy, the third longest serving U.S. OBAMA/senator, who died late Tuesday night after a 15-month battle with brain cancer.

Friends, former colleagues and people who never knew him were offering words of praise for the man who took the helm of one of America’s most fabled political families after two older brothers — President John Kennedy and Senator Robert Kennedy — were assassinated.

“An important chapter in our history has come to an end,” said President Barack Obama. “Our country has lost a great leader, who picked up the torch of his fallen brothers and became the greatest United States senator of our time.”

Obama doesn’t want to pull plug on grandma

This just in: President Barack Obama opposes pulling the plug on your sick grandmother.

In a sign of how twisted the healthcare debate has become, the president of the United States was forced to stand up in public and say definitively that he did not favor killing off the elderly when their care became too expensive.

The dramatic declaration came in New Hampshire in response to one of the wilder accusations circulated by opponents of his efforts to overhaul healthcare.

Obama doesn’t find Canadians “particularly scary”

GUADALAJARA, Mexico – The U.S. healthcare debate followed President Barack Obama down to Mexico, where he accused opponents of his overhaul plan of using Canada’s government-backed healthcare system to scare Americans away from change.

The issue came up when a Canadian reporter asked Obama at a news conference with the “three amigos” why “our health care system has become aMEXICO-SUMMIT/ political football in your country.”

Obama is more of a basketball fan, but he picked up the football and ran with it.

White House fights healthcare rumors with “reality check”

When in trouble, turn to the Web.

That was President Barack Obama’s strategy during his presidential campaign days, and since it worked then – he did get elected – the White House has decided to use a similar tactic on healthcare reform.

The White House on Monday launched a “reality check” Web site to counter criticism of Obama’s efforts to revamp the healthcare system.

The approach is similar to Obama’s campaign trail strategy when a Web site was set up to attack rumors about the Democratic presidential contender.

The First Draft: Assessing the first six months

It won’t be a conversation over beer in the Rose Garden, but today President Barack Obama USA-OBAMA/gathers his Cabinet together across the street at Blair House to talk about the first six months of their term.

With public opinion polls showing support for Obama and for his main legislative priority — healthcare reform — waning, the president retreats with his Cabinet this weekend to talk things over.

Six months ago Obama and his family lived at Blair House for a couple of days before he was inaugurated as the 44th president.

Who does the talking in the Obama household?

President Barack Obama may run the country, but when it comes to the Obama household, he seems to suspect somebody else is in charge. 
OBAMA 
Answering healthcare questions Tuesday at a forum sponsored by the retirees group AARP, the president suggested the first lady did the talking in his house.
 
Moderator: We go next to North Carolina for a question we had all week last week. I think every town hall had this one. It’s from Colin. And, Colin, go ahead and ask this question.  Go ahead, Colin.
 
Mary: This is his wife, Mary.
 
Obama: Hi, Mary.
 
Mary: Hi.

Obama: What happened to Colin?
 
Mary: Well, I’m the one they talked to.
 
Obama: I got you. That’s how it is in my house, too. OBAMA/
 
The president traveled to a Kroger grocery store in Bristol, Virginia, on Wednesday to stand next to strawberries and raspberries in the fruit section and talk about healthcare reform to 180 gathered employees and guests.
 
“They don’t let me do my own shopping, but I miss it,” he said. “So I may pick up some fruit on the way out.”
 
“I don’t want to … talk too long,” Obama added, “because I do have to take some questions from you, and also Michelle’s probably e-mailing me about grabbing some milk on the way home.”
 
In the end he did buy a piece of fruit — something that looked like a peach but may have been a nectarine. 

No word on the gallon of milk.
 
For more Reuters political news, click here.

Photo credit: Reuters/Larry Downing (Obama talking healthcare in the fruit section at Kroger’s; Obama taking a bite of fruit)