Tales from the Trail

It’s official – Obama is the next U.S. president

It’s official. Barack Obama will be the next president of the United States.

USA/The Senate and House of Representatives just concluded a joint session in which the electoral college vote results of the Nov. 4 election were counted and certified with great fanfare.

Vice President Dick Cheney, who serves as president of the Senate, presided over the meeting and read the official results – Obama of Illinois received 365 of the 538 electoral votes for president and Sen. John McCain of Arizona received 173.  Sen. Joe Biden of Delaware received 365 electoral votes for the office of vice president while Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska received 173 votes, Cheney said. USA/

With the electoral votes duly recorded by Congress, Obama will be free to take the oath of office on Jan. 20, on the west front of the Capitol. 

For more Reuters political news, click here.

Photo credit: Reuters/Joshua Roberts (Ballots from the Electoral College are carried into the House Chamber for joint session of Congress/ Vice President Cheny hands Rep. Robert Brady of Pennsylvania vote results from Ohio.)

from Environment Forum:

Obama is just the facts on environment

Was that a dig at outgoing President George W. Bush? President-elect Barack Obama introduced his new environmental team and insisted his administration would focus on "the facts" as it put together policy.

"We understand the facts demand bold action," he said.

In case listeners didn't get the point that the new administration thinks it's different from that of outgoing President Bush, Veep-to-be Joe Biden gave it a try.

"There is no doubt about the challenges in front of us, but there is no putting our heads in the sand, either, as in my view we have done for some time. Particularly when it comes to science -- welcome doctor," he said, looking at Energy Department Chief-to-be Dr. Steven Chu.

The First Draft: Thursday, Nov. 20

Major indexes dropped  to their lowest level since 2003 yesterday and U.S. stock futures are pointing to another plunge today as investors worry about the fate of U.S. carmakers and the spectre of a prolonged economic downturn.
    
Just how bad is it? Well, here’s another sign of the impending apocalypse: the Labor Department reported at 8:30 a.m. EST that jobless claims are at their highest level in 16 years.   

After two days of petitioning Congress, Detroit automakers headed home without the $25 billion check they were angling for. Congressional leaders say a deal is doubtful until next January as they prepare to adjourn for the year.
    
President-elect Barack Obama remains in Chicago, piecing together a new administration that could include Hillary Clinton as secretary of state. His peeps are a little miffed by the leaks out of the Clinton camp, which they tell the New York Times are designed to force them to give her the post. Is this a sign that Obama’s formal rival might “go rogue” if she ends up working for him?
    
Happy Joe Biden’s birthday, everyone! The vice president-elect turns 66 today. 
    
And it’s not even Thanksgiving, but the Christmas Wars are starting up already. Two conservative Christian groups plan to set up a Christmas scene on the sidewalk in front of the Supreme Court as they talk about their plans to promote the display of nativity scenes across the country on private and public property.

Photo: REUTERS/Hannibal Hanschke (costumed angels in Berlin)

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)

No matter what, one White House hopeful will return to the Senate

WASHINGTON – When all is said and done with the 2008 presidential election, one of the contenders will be returning to the U.S. Senate,  a harsh reality after coming so close to the White House.

For the first time in 48 years a senator will capture the White House, either Republican Sen. John McCain or Democratic Sen. Barack Obama, while the other will go back to being one of 100 in the deliberative body.

But over 48 years, it has happened many times, most recently in 2004 when Massachusetts Democratic Sen. John Kerry lost to George W. Bush.

Bidens band together on Election Day

WILMINGTON, Del. – For Joe Biden, politics has always been a family business and on Tuesday the Democratic vice presidential candidate took along three dozen of his relatives on the final campaign leg to Chicago. 

 Of the 99 passengers on board his campaign plane, 37 were members of the Biden family, including the Delaware senator, his mother Jean, wife Jill, daughter Ashley, son Hunter, grandchildren, siblings and other relatives. 

 A notable omission was Beau Biden, the senator’s eldest son who is being deployed to Iraq and is in military training in Texas. 

Philadelphia Phillies’ Rollins bats for Obama

PHILADELPHIA – Philadelphia Phillies’ shortstop Jimmy Rollins, whose team won the baseball World Series last week, is hoping for a victory from Barack Obama on Tuesday.

Rollins, whose team beat the Tampa Bay Rays to clinch their first series victory since 1980, introduced Democratic vice presidential nominee Joe Biden at his final rally before election day in Philadelphia.

“Tomorrow is an opportunity to make history again. We took the curse off by winning the championship. Now it’s time to take the curse off America,” Rollins said.

Superstitious Biden sure of Pennsylvania, not others

ZANESVILLE, Ohio – Joe Biden would bet his daughter’s graduate tuition on winning the battleground state of Pennsylvania, but he said he was not so sure of Ohio, Indiana or Missouri.

Speaking to reporters en route to a rally, the Democratic vice presidential candidate was upbeat about Tuesday’s election. But he would not say if he expected Barack Obama to win.

“I am superstitious and so I am not going to comment on us winning or losing,” he said.

Cub scouts get impromptu tour of Biden’s plane

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Democratic vice presidential candidate Joe Biden gave a group of Cub Scouts an impromptu tour of his campaign aircraft, showing them the cockpit and handing out Halloween candy.

The young scouts, some of them wearing red plastic fireman hats, had been visiting firefighters at the airport when Biden, on a campaign swing through northern Florida, arrived with his entourage.

“Have you ever seen a big plane before, up close?,” the senator asked the boys. “You guys wanna come and see my plane? I’m gonna get in trouble but come on.”

Biden shows frustration at being reined in

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Democratic vice presidential candidate Joe Biden displayed some frustration at being tightly managed by the Obama campaign for fear he might go “off message.”

Speaking to students at the University of Florida in Gainesville Sunday, Biden appeared to stray from the text in front of him and took his eyes off the teleprompter.

What he said was not controversial — that he was more passionate about America’s prospects than when he first ran for the Senate in 1972 — but it was obviously not in the prepared script.