Tales from the Trail

The First Draft: the Supreme Court and the Spelling Bee

SPELLING BEE/KIDSWith Congress gone this week and President Barack Obama out of town for most of today, Washington turns to its two traditional inside-the-Beltway sporting events: handicapping a Supreme Court nominee’s chances of confirmation, and watching the nerve-wracking finals of the National Spelling Bee.

Sonia Sotomayor, picked by Obama on Tuesday, is already being praised in an ad by liberal groups and vilified as a racist by conservatives, including radio talk jock Rush Limbaugh, whom the White House has tried to style as the de facto head of the Republican Party. Obama himself stumped for his choice on a Western swing yesterday to Las Vegas and Los Angeles.

The president returns to Washington for a late afternoon meeting with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

Vice President Joe Biden was also out West yesterday too, giving a commencement speech at the U.S. Air Force Academy. When wind blew down the teleprompter, Biden told the crowd: “What am I going to tell the president when I tell him his teleprompter is broken? What will he do then?”

U.S. initial jobless claims fell for the second week in a row, but the total number of people who get unemployment insurance benefits hit a new record.

First Dog tradition to continue under Obama

WASHINGTON – Worry not dog lovers, the White House will still have a “First Dog” under a Barack Obama administration.******Obama had promised that whether or not he won the White House, his daughters Sasha and Malia could get a dog.******”Sasha and Malia, I love you both more than you can imagine.  And you have earned the new puppy that’s coming with us,” Obama said at the start of his victory speech. ******His predecessors dating back several administrations had dogs and yes, a few cats occupied the White House too.******Obama’s running mate, Joe Biden, is also getting in on the act. He told reporters traveling with him earlier that his wife had promised him a “big dog” if he got elected.******Jill Biden had taped pictures of different dogs on the back of the seat in front of him on his campaign plane to inspire the candidate as he criss-crossed the country in the final sprint to election day.******”Jill had said the only way you are getting a dog is if you are president … we didn’t think about vice president,” said Biden. “She said at least if you live in the White House you are home.”******He dropped out of the presidential race but when Obama asked him to join the ticket, his wife Jill said if he did so she would let him have the dog he wanted.******Click here for more Reuters 2008 campaign coverage.******- Additional reporting by Sue Pleming******- Photo credit: Reuters/Jason Reed (Obama family emerges on stage at victory rally in Chicago)

Jill Biden ‘rats’ out husband in Halloween joke

KETTERING, Ohio, Oct 31 (Reuters) – Democratic vice presidential candidate Joe Biden got publicly “ratted” by his Halloween prankster wife Jill at a rally in Ohio on Friday.

After introducing her husband of three decades to supporters in this suburb of Dayton, the community college teacher slipped a toy black rat onto the podium.

“Some things never change,” laughed Biden when he saw it. “I probably should never let the press know this but Jill walked back up here a moment ago and you know what she did, she put a little rat on the podium. Everything is Halloween with this lady. Happy Halloween.”