Tales from the Trail
Tuesday’s political news is all about pecs, abs and and a painful shoulder.
A photographer caught President-elect Barack Obama sunning in his swimsuit on a Hawaii beach.
The images drew an admiring “Fit for Office” headline from the New York Post as well as approving nods from the morning TV talk shows.
The painful shoulder belonged to President George W. Bush. It got an MRI scan and a cortisone shot at Walter Reed Army Medical Center Monday as Bush paid a visit to wounded soldiers.
Obama’s transition team is due to release a report detailing the contacts between his staff and the office of Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich.
The governor has been charged with trying to benefit personally by selling off the Senate seat that Obama vacated in November after winning the presidential election. Blagojevich has the power to appoint a replacement to finish Obama’s term.
ABC News said the report found that Rahm Emanuel, Obama’s chief of staff, discussed the seat with the governor’s office but did not do or say anything wrong.
Obama’s staff finished the report last week but its release was held up at the request of the U.S. attorney investigating Blagojevich.
The president-elect also will attend a private memorial service Tuesday for his grandmother, Madelyn Dunham, who died just before the election. Obama lived with his grandmother and grandfather in Hawaii throughout his teenage years.
Hillary Clinton has written off $13.1 million in loans to her failed campaign for president, according to reports filed with the Federal Election Commission.
The New York Times also reported that the former first lady and New York senator, who was selected by Obama to serve as secretary of state, is moving to widen the role of the State Department.
She is seeking to build a more powerful State Department with a bigger budget, high-profile special envoys to trouble spots and a larger role in dealing with global economic issues, the Times reported.
The U.S. economy shrank at an annual pace of 0.5 percent, new government figures showed Tuesday. Consumer spending shrank by 3.8 percent, the sharpest drop since 1980.
Stock futures were little changed, suggesting a relatively flat open on Wall Street.
For more Reuters political news, click here.
Looking for that perfect gift for the holidays?
Hillary Clinton’s mom, Dorothy Rodham, has a suggestion for you — a children’s book about her daughter. For a slightly-higher-than-retail price you can even get the book autographed by Clinton and help her pay down her campaign debt.
U.S. Secretary of State-designate Hillary Clinton won the swift and hearty support of one former globe-trotting U.S. president: her husband, Bill Clinton.
With the images of death and destruction in Mumbai last week fresh in everyone’s minds, U.S. President-elect Barack Obama is set on Monday to name his national security team.
At a 10:40 EST (1540 GMT) news conference in Chicago, Obama is expected to name former rival Hillary Clinton as his secretary of state and nominate Defense Secretary Robert Gates to stay on in that role. In addition he is expected to name Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano as homeland security secretary, Eric Holder as attorney general and adviser Susan Rice as ambassador to the United Nations.
After a series of three straight news conferences last week focused on the ailing U.S. economy, Obama will switch gears today as he will likely face questions about India and Pakistan and his proposed policies toward the two nuclear-armed nations.
U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice will travel to India on Wednesday. She has been in contact with the foreign ministers of India and Pakistan in recent days to ease tensions between the states.
Major indexes dropped to their lowest level since 2003 yesterday and U.S. stock futures are pointing to another plunge today as investors worry about the fate of U.S. carmakers and the spectre of a prolonged economic downturn.
Just how bad is it? Well, here’s another sign of the impending apocalypse: the Labor Department reported at 8:30 a.m. EST that jobless claims are at their highest level in 16 years.
The Senate returns to debate a bailout for struggling automakers and consider additional stimulus money to prop up the struggling economy.
Democrats hope to pass both measures in their brief “lame duck” session, but they face opposition from Republicans in the chamber as well as President George W. Bush, who reiterated on Monday morning that any Detroit aid should come from the $700 billion already appropriated to prop up the economy.
In Chicago, President-elect Barack Obama will meet at noon EST with John McCain, his recent rival for the White House. “It’s well known that they share an important belief that Americans want and deserve a more effective and efficient government, and will discuss ways to work together to make that a reality,” Obama’s transition team said on Monday.
Obama and McCain will be joined by their two favorite wingmen — future White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel and South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, respectively.
McCain might put in a good word for New York Sen. Hillary Clinton, who is reported to be on Obama’s short list for Secretary of State. McCain and Clinton downed vodka shots together on a trip to Estonia a few years back.
Back in the Senate, the Finance Committee will cross-examine the man who has been nominated to oversee the $700 billion bailout program. Neil Barofsky, the assistant U.S. attorney in the Southern District of New York who has been nominated to be Special Inspector General of the Treasury Department’s Troubled Assets Relief Program, testifies at 2 p.m.
The House is not in session, but new members elected two weeks ago are in town for an orientation session and a class photo. House Democratic leaders say they will quickly pass any bailout packages that clear the Senate.
U.S. stocks are expected to open lower as investors continue to fear a deep and lengthy global recession. According to one group of economists, we’re already there: real GDP is expected to fall 2.6 percent in the final quarter of this year and 1.3 percent in the first three months of 2009, according to a survey of 50 professional forecasters conducted by the National Association of Business Economists.