After just a few months in office and having fiercely resisted calls for his resignation, Illinois Senator Roland Burris has decided Congress is not his calling after all.The Chicago Democrat appointed to fill the Senate seat vacated by President Barack Obama plans to announce on Friday he won’t seek election to a full six-year term in 2010. Word leaked out a day early, with sources in Chicago and Washington confirming Burris’ plans to forgo the midterm election.The Chicago Sun-Times broke the news, reporting that Burris had raised only about $20,000 toward what undoubtedly would have been a very expensive campaign. The newspaper also quoted a source as saying that Burris, a former Illinois attorney general, was concerned about his legacy.He entered office under a big cloud that never cleared. Burris was appointed on Dec. 30 by former Governor Rod Blagojevich, who later was impeached and indicted on corruption charges — including trying to sell Obama’s Senate seat.Burris escaped a perjury charge last month when prosecutors said there was insufficient evidence aganist him. Burris declared his appointment “perfectly legal” and said he had never offered the ousted governor anything.For more Reuters political news, click here.Photo credit: Reuters/Frank Polich (Burris reacts to audience applause after speaking at a Chicago, church in March)
Tales from the Trail
KAILUA, HI – Barack Obama may be the first U.S. president who can successfully pull off the shaka, a Hawaiian greeting Hawaiians say has various meanings, from “hang loose” and “cool” to “thanks.”
The hand gesture, also a common greeting in surfer culture, consists of curling the three middle fingers and extending the thumb and little finger.
The president-elect, looking uber-cool with his White Sox baseball cap on backwards, flipped the shaka to a crowd of about 30 people as he left a gym on a Marine Corps base on the Hawaiian island of Oahu, where he is vacationing.
Obama, born and largely raised on Oahu, then walked over to greet the crowd, which had waited through a brief cloudburst to see him. Righting his baseball cap as he walked, he shook hands before posing with four babies.
KEMPTON, Indiana – Barack Obama, vying for support from Hoosiers before Indiana’s Tuesday primary, reconnected with his roots in the state with a visit to a farmhouse owned by his family for generations.
The white Victorian home in rural Kempton sits on land owned by Obama’s fourth great-grandfather, who passed it down several generations within the family of Obama’s mother, Ann Dunham. Ann Dunham was from Kansas but she later moved to Hawaii, where Obama was raised.
The Kempton farmhouse was built by William Riley Dunham, a great uncle of Obama. After the Dunham family gave it up, it was used at one stage as a funeral home and was recently purchased by Sean Clements, who plans to spruce it.
As part of an effort to show a folksier side of the Illinois senator, the campaign planned the visit to the house as an outdoor potluck dinner with Clements and his family and friends.
But the weather didn’t cooperate. It was chilly with big gusts of wind that toppled the foldup tables set up in the back yard. So the tables had to be taken down and the dinner was scrapped in favor of a walk-around tour by Obama, his wife, Michelle, and their two daughters, Sasha, 6, and Malia, 9.
But there were no shortages of other opportunities to show the “regular guy” side of Obama, who has said he is determined to counter efforts by his opponents to portray him and his wife as “elitist, pointy-headed intellectual types.”
The Obamas visited a picnic gathering in Noblesville at lunchtime. In the evening, they stopped by a roller-skating rink for an “ice cream social” with supporters. Obama did not skate, though his daughters did.
Photo: Reuters/Jason Reed
INDIANAPOLIS – Former Republican House Speaker Newt Gingrich says Barack Obama remains the best bet to become the Democratic presidential nominee and would be a formidable opponent for Republican John McCain.
Speaking to the French Sunday newspaper Le Journal du Dimanche, Gingrich said McCain had benefited from Obama’s recent difficulties, including controversial comments by the Illinois senator’s longtime pastor, Rev. Jeremiah Wright.
“But Obama remains a formidable opponent. He is also the most probable Democrat nominee, even if he is not as untouchable as he was before,” said Gingrich, who led his party’s takeover of the House of Representatives in what was known as the Republican Revolution of 1994.
WILKES-BARRE, Pa. – Republican Sen. John McCain’s personal narrative as a war hero in Vietnam has Democrats treading carefully when they criticize him.