Tales from the Trail

South Dakota voters talk issues with Clinton

RAPID CITY, S.D. - While pundits pondered the intricacies of how Hillary Clinton might drop out of the presidential race, voters in South Dakota greeted the candidate on Monday in a traditional style by talking about issues that affect their lives.

As she campaigned in a Rapid City diner, Clinton chatted with a nurse who asked about improving health care and a woman who wanted to talk about veterans’ care.

A few feet away, a young woman described a friend paralyzed in a wrestling accident and implored Clinton to support stem cell research.baby.jpg

Stardust Red Bow, 27, told Clinton she owed $90,000 in student loans after earning her master’s degree in social work.

“There are people with the same problems all around our nation,” Red Bow said after talking to Clinton. ”Even if she doesn’t win, I’m sure she will still be active in politics and can still sponsor bills.”

McCain hails Clinton, notes she is still in race

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Republican presidential candidate John McCain, who aims most of his attacks at Democrat Barack Obama these days, noted Monday that Hillary Clinton was still in the rtx6fvz.jpgrace — and praised her for being a role model to women.

“Yes, Sen. Clinton is still in the race,” McCain said in response to a questioner, adding that people should not underestimate the former first lady or her husband, President Bill Clinton.

McCain, an Arizona senator who has wrapped up his party’s presidential nomination, reminded an audience in Nashville that he had many differences with the New York senator.

Obama offers to meet with Clinton “once the dust settles”

WATERFORD, Mich. – Barack Obama praised rival Hillary Clinton as “an outstanding public servant” and said he hopes to meet with her sometime after the final Democratic obama1.jpgpresidential nomination contests take place on Tuesday.
 
Speaking to reporters outside a Rite-Aid distribution center in Waterford, Michigan, the Illinois senator gave more details about a conversation he had with Clinton when he called her on Sunday to congratulate her on her win in Puerto Rico.
 
“There aren’t many people who understand exactly how hard she’s been working. I’m one of them,” Obama said of their hard-fought race.
 
“I told her that once the dust has settled, I was looking forward to meeting with her at a time and place of her choosing,” he said.
 
Obama, who hopes he will rack up enough delegates this week to clinch the Democratic nomination, has been making a point of publicly praising the New York senator. His hope is to ease divisions that have opened up in the party during the months of campaigning.
 
Some Democrats worry the rift among Democratic voters may put the party at a disadvantage in the November election against Republican Sen. John McCain.
 
At a raucus gathering over the weekend, the Democratic party’s rules committee backed a compromise unfavorable to Clinton for the seating of disputed Michigan and Florida delegations at the party’s August convention.
 
The decision fanned anger on the part of some Clinton supporters. The committee rejected a Clinton-backed proposal to seat all the Florida delegates at full strength, then backed compromises seating both the Michigan and Florida delegations while cutting their voting power.
 
Clinton’s supporters were particularly angry about the decision to award Obama delegates in Michigan, where he did not even appear on the ballot.

Click here for more Reuters 2008 campaign coverage. 

REUTERS/Jason Reed (Sen. Barack Obama speaks in Detroit, Michigan, June 2, 2008)

In critical February period, Obama outspent Clinton 3-to-1 on ads

WASHINGTON – Barack Obama’s almost insurmountable lead in the race for the Democratic party presidential nomination is mainly the result of a two-week period in February when he outspent rival Hillary Clinton 3-to-1 on advertising while winning nine straight state races, according to a new analysis released Monday.

rtx6g65.jpgObama beat Clinton in states ranging from Maryland to Nebraska to Hawaii between Feb. 6 and Feb. 19, winning 281 delegates to 163 for Clinton for a net gain of 118, said the study by the University of Wisconsin Advertising Project.
 
Democratic candidates need the votes of 2,118 delegates to the party’s convention in August to seize the nomination. Obama currently leads Clinton in the race for elected delegates 1,729 to 1,625, a margin of 104, according to a count by MSNBC. When the votes of party leaders and others who have declared their support are factored in, Obama’s lead grows to 2,076 to 1,918, MSNBC says.

The advertising advantage alone does not explain Obama’s February winning streak, but it was likely a factor. The study found that in the nine states he won during that two-week period, Obama was on the air first and had the paid media airwaves to himself for a significant part of the time. During a nine-day advertising battle in Nebraska, for example, Obama was alone on the air for six days unchallenged by Clinton.

Far from key Democratic decision-making, Clinton carries on

puerto.jpgGUAYNABO, Puerto Rico – Miles from the Democratic Party’s machinations to decide whether she will get her votes counted in the disputed primaries of Florida and Michigan, Hillary Clinton on Saturday smiled and clapped her way through the streets and small towns of Puerto Rico.

Clinton, who trails front-runner Barack Obama by what most consider an insurmountable gap in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination, waved from a campaign truck at bystanders who gathered in the steamy afternoon heat to cheer her on.

Accompanied by loudspeakers blaring “Hillary Clinton, La Proxima Presidenta,” pounding music and trucks carrying photographers, television crews and reporters, Clinton cruised the palm tree-lined streets in towns around San Juan for hours past fruit vendors and fisherman who paused to point and smile.

Media-battered Clinton calls for greater scrutiny

hillary1.jpgSIOUX FALLS, S.D. – As a Democratic presidential candidate, New York senator and former first lady, Hillary Clinton has had her share of media scrutiny. Still, she says the news media should become a more aggressive public watchdog.

“I really do. I really do,” Clinton told reporters when asked if she sincerely favors greater press scrutiny. 

“On the right things. On things that are important to the future of our country. On things that actually matter. I would love that,” said Clinton, long hounded by the press as one of the nation’s most popular yet polarizing figures.

Clinton receives thanks from American Indians

FLATHEAD INDIAN RESERVATION, Montana – Hillary Clinton took her campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination to an Indian reservation where she received applause, thanks – and new footwear.

“You’ve gone a million miles for the Indian people — here are a pair of moccasins to help you on your journey,” Joe McDonald, president of Salish Kootenai College, said on Tuesday in presenting Clinton the gift.clinton1.jpg

A crowd of several hundred roared approval.

Drawing more applause, Clinton said, “We need a president next January who understands the obligation that the United States government has to the tribes that represent the first people of the United States.” 

Democrats may need time to heal, Richardson says

LAS CRUCES, N.M. – Democrats will eventually unite once the hard-fought presidential nomination battle between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton is resolved but that process may take time, New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson said on Monday. 

billrichardson.jpg“There’s going to be a need for healing,” Richardson, a former White House hopeful who is backing Obama. 

Richardson, who had served as energy secretary and ambassador to the United Nations in former President Bill Clinton’s administration, remained on the fence for several weeks before deciding to support Obama, an Illinois senator, two months ago.

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).

Note to Obama – Guns are good for business

KANSAS CITY, Mo., May 22 – A Missouri car dealer has a message for Democratic presidential frontrunner Barack Obama: Midwesterners love their guns.

Mark Muller, the owner of Max Motors in Butler, Missouri south of Kansas City, on Thursday said sales have soared at his auto and truck business since launching a promotion this week that promises buyers a $250 credit for a handgun or a $250 gas card with every purchase.

rtx5yyz.jpgEvery buyer so far “except one guy from Canada and one old guy” has elected to take the gun, Muller said in an interview with Reuters. He recommends his customers select a Kel-Tec .380 pistol.