Tales from the Trail

Obama woos frustrated gay activists at White House party

If Barack Obama and the gay community have strained relations, an elegant reception in the White House East Room to celebrate LGBT Pride Month was a good way to start mending fences — at least for now.Pride Reception

“Welcome to your White House,” Obama told an enthusiastic crowd of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered (LGBT) people on Monday before launching into a summary of his administration’s accomplishments on their causes.

Notable exception: Obama’s pledge to repeal the military’s “Don’t ask, don’t tell” policy has not been met.

Gay activists have lamented the slow speed at which Obama, who had wide support from the community for his presidential campaign, and his administration have moved to address the military policy and other issues.

That’s not news to Obama, who addressed the dissatisfaction in his remarks.

‘Gaffe Machine’ says election is so about the issues

biden3.jpgFORT MYERS, Florida – Democratic vice presidential nominee Joe Biden, mocked by Republicans as a “gaffe machine,” took a swipe Wednesday at a remark by John McCain’s campaign manager that “this election is not about issues.”
 
“This election is not about issues?” Biden asked rhetorically, drawing hoots and hollers at a town-hall style meeting with several hundred people in Fort Myers, Florida. Noting Americans have difficulty paying for such basics as health insurance and gasoline for their cars, Biden said, “Where I come from, that’s an issue.”
 
Campaign manager Rick Davis, in an interview with The Washington Post, said, “This election is not about issues.” He said, “This election is about a composite view of what people take away from these candidates.” He predicted that the more voters get to know McCain and Democratic presidential rival Barack Obama, the more they will like the Republican ticket.
 
Biden bristled. “You have the greatest character in the world, but you are not going to give me a fighting chance that would keep my job. I love ya, but I don’t want you as president,” he said.
 
During 35 years in the Senate, the fast-talking, often long-winded Biden has earned a reputation for gaffes. Republicans count two since last week’s Democratic National Convention — when he referred to Obama as “Barack America” and put himself on the top of the ticket by saying he was “running for president.”
 
On Wednesday, Biden made another slip of the tongue. In promising to help Americans if elected, he said, “the Biden, excuse me, the Obama-Biden administration.” Amid laughter, he added, “Believe me, you all got it right: Obama-Biden.” 

Click here for more Reuters 2008 campaign coverage

- Photo credit: Reuters/Jim Young 

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