Tales from the Trail

Dems acting like GOP toward Florida, Michigan – Bill Clinton

LOUISVILLE, Kentucky – Democrats are acting more like Republicans by not counting the results of the Florida and Michigan primaries and by not seating those states’ party delegates, former President Bill Clinton said on Tuesday.cafe.jpg

“The Republicans are supposed to be the people that don’t count votes in Florida, not Democrats,” said Clinton, campaigning with his wife Sen. Hillary Clinton at Lynn’s Paradise Cafe, where she chatted with voters and he held an impromptu news conference.

The January votes in Michigan and Florida were deemed invalid by the national Democratic Party because both states moved their election dates forward in defiance of party rules.

“The Democrats said, ‘We’re going to decapitate them, smudge them, step on them, act like they never existed, act like they never voted,’” the former president said. “It’s very strange that the Democrats would be more authoritarian and more hostile to the voters.

Many Democrats, like Clinton apparently, believe the 2000 election recount in Florida unfairly favored the Republican Party. The dispute was resolved by the Supreme Court, giving Republican George W. Bush the victory and Democrat Al Gore the loss.

Baby gets baptised, with a visit from Clinton

hillary-smile.jpgBOWLING GREEN, Kentucky – Katelyn Jenkins got a surprise visit from Sen. Hillary Clinton on one of the biggest days of her life so far. But odds are, she didn’t even notice.

The eight-week-old girl was getting baptised on Sunday morning at the State Street United Methodist Church, where the Democratic presidential contender paused in her campaigning to attend services.

At the sight of the former first lady, the baby’s father said: “I was pleasantly surprised and amazed.”

Obama sidesteps question on Clinton as VP

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CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. – Illinois Sen. Barack Obama sidestepped the Dream Team question on Tuesday when asked whether he would make rival Hillary Clinton his running mate if he beats her for the Democratic White House nomination. 

“Sen. Clinton is still competing. We haven’t resolved this nomination. I haven’t won the nomination yet,” Obama said, after jokinginly asking the audience member who asked the question whether he was a reporter.

“It would be presumptuous of me to pretend like I’ve already won and start talking about who my vice president’s going to be. I still have some more work to do.”

Hillary the Fighter versus Hillary the Uniter?

boxer.jpgLOUISVILLE, Ky. – As Barack Obama gains momentum in his battle with Hillary Clinton for the Democratic Party’s 2008 presidential nomination, there are signs that the scrappy New York senator’s inner fighter may be giving way to the uniter who will knit the fractured party back together once the bruising nomination process ends. 

But parsing her recent campaign speeches from West Virginia and South Dakota to Oregon and Kentucky, Clinton does not appear ready to give up the fight just yet.  

At a speech late on Friday here, Clinton appeared initially to aim for a conciliatory tone toward Obama, only mentioning her challenger to draw comparisons between women and blacks — two groups that she said had suffered greatly under the original U.S. Constitution written by America’s founders. 

As race winds down, are Democrats still open to both on ticket?

rtr1zkmu.jpgWASHINGTON – Democrats Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama are often described by many in the party as the dream team to recapture the White House in 2008 regardless who is atop the ticket. 

Clinton, whose presidential bid has been faltering in recent weeks, had previously hinted that she was open to the idea.  And now as Obama closes in on winning the party’s presidential nomination, he has not closed the door on Clinton as his vice presidential running mate.

If Clinton fails to mount a come-from-behind win, will her supporters be satisfied with the No. 2 spot and will Obama’s backers fear that she could hurt his chances of capturing the White House or possibly upstage him?

Sharpton to Clinton: Please leave the stage

NEW YORK – Rev. Al Sharpton called on Hillary Clinton to drop out of the Democratic presidential race, likening her to an entertainer who doesn’t know when to leave the stage.

rtr20b1t.jpg“Not dropping out would mean ruining the party,” the civil rights leader told New York 1 television on Thursday night. “I think Barack Obama’s the nominee. I think he’s won. The majority of Democrats have already decided.”

Sharpton, a failed Democratic candidate in 2004, has yet to endorse any candidate for the November election though he has been actively courted by Obama and Clinton.

Did Rush help Hillary in Indiana?

DALLAS – Has Democratic presidential contender Hillary Clinton improbably emerged as the favorite of the “Guns and God” crowd?

The U.S. media and blogosphere has been ablaze with speculation that conservative radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh may have contributed to Clinton’s narrow victory in Tuesday’s Indiana primary over Barack Obama by urging Republicans to vote for the former Guns and God favorite?first lady.

The speculation is that the “Rush for Hillary” is seen as a way to extend the Democratic nomination battle and further damage the eventual winner.

Obama camp to superdelegates: “Read the newspapers”

CHICAGO – As Barack Obama celebrated his compelling win in North Carolina and the unexpected closeness of the Indiana race on Tuesday night, his senior strategist said one of the campaign’s top tasks now is to court influential Democratic Party figures.
 
The Democratic senator from Illinois was seen as showing resilience after a bumpy ride in which he has struggled with questions about his former pastor’s fiery sermons and efforts by Clinton to paint him as an “out of touch” elitist.
 
Analysts said his rival Hillary Clinton, who won only narrowly in Indiana where she had been favored to do well, was likely to face increased pressure to exit the race because her showing did little to advance her argument that she would be more electable than Obama in a matchup against Republican Sen. John McCain.
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Asked by reporters whether there would be a slew of new endorsements from the party stalwarts and officials known as the “superdelegates,” Obama’s chief strategist, David Axelrod, was careful not to reveal too much.
 
“We’re going to be reaching out to them,” Axelrod told reporters as Obama, who would be the first black U.S. president, flew back home to Chicago from his evening rally in North Carolina.
 
The Obama strategist said the message in these conversations would be a simple one: “Read the newspapers.”

Click here for more Reuters 2008 campaign coverage.

Photo credit: Reuters/Chris Keane (Obama waves to supporters at his North Carolina and Indiana primary election night rally in Raleigh.)

No endorsement coming from John Edwards

WASHINGTON – Remember John Edwards
    He ran a spirited campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination, never caugJohn Edwardsht much fire and dropped out of the race about, oh, it feels like 10 years ago (actually it was January).
    The former North Carolina senator has kept a low profile ever since and has resisted entreaties from the remaining Democrats, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, for his endorsement.
    And he is still resisting, as voters cast ballots on Tuesday in his home state’s Democratic primary election, according to People Magazine, which tracked down Edwards and his wife, Elizabeth.
    Edwards, who was John Kerry’s vice presidential running mate in 2004, told People he likes Clinton’s “tenacity” but sees “a lot of the old politics” in her.
    He likes Obama, too, but “sometimes I want to see more substance under the rhetoric.”
    Bottom line, according to People, rather than endorse one or the other, Edwards and his wife will save their political capital for causes such as fighting poverty and improving U.S. health care.

Click here for more Reuters 2008 campaign coverage.

http://www.reuters.com/news/globalcoverage/2008candidates

Photo credit:  Reuters/Lee Celano (Edwards, with wife Elizabeth on the right, announces his withdrawal from the Democratic presidential race in January.)

Obama makes pitch to hard-hats, shift workers

obama-greets-workers.jpgINDIANAPOLIS – Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama, seeking to erode rival Hillary Clinton’s edge with blue-collar workers, made a personal pitch for their support on the eve of Tuesday’s Indiana and North Carolina primaries.

“How is everybody?” Obama asked a group of workers in hard hats at a construction site on Monday morning in Evansville, Indiana, where he chatted with them about health care and gasoline costs.

After a town hall session in North Carolina and a big evening rally in Indiana, Obama  stopped by a car parts plant in Indianapolis at midnight to greet workers coming off the night shift. He told them he faced a close race with Clinton and asked for their votes. But Frank Spiceland, 29, a machinist at the plant, which employs 600 Ford Motor Company employees and 600 from Automotive Components Holdings, asked Obama to help save his job.