Tales from the Trail

Biden smells “victory” in the air for Obama

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Just two days before the U.S. presidential election, Democratic vice presidential candidate Joe Biden smells victory for Barack Obama.

Speaking at Florida State University in Tallahassee, his first in a three-stop swing through the battleground state of Florida on Sunday, Biden pointed to a dramatic bronze statue entitled “Unconquered” outside the university’s stadium.

“This is a great place to have this rally in front of the ‘Seminole Unconquered’. I tell you, I don’t think you ever approach this stadium without smelling victory in the air,” Biden said. 

The statue depicts a spear-brandishing Seminole Indian astride a rearing horse and was designed to “capture the indomitable spirit” of the Seminole people, says the university’s website. 
 

With polls showing Obama ahead of Republican John McCain, Florida Sen. Bill Nelson was also in an upbeat mood when he introduced Biden. 
 

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.”

Biden hopes for Phillies’ good fortune in election

WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. – Pennsylvania native and Democratic vice presidential candidate Joe Biden hopes the Philadelphia Phillies’ baseball World Series win is a good omen for Tuesday’s presidential election.

“How about those Phillies?” Biden said at a rally in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, on Thursday.

The Philadelphia Phillies won baseball’s World Series on Wednesday against the Tampa Bay Rays, in a game watched by Biden’s wife, Jill, who like him is a rabid Phillies fan.

Biden pokes Halloween fun at McCain

SUNRISE, Florida – With two days until Halloween, Democratic vice presidential candidate Joe Biden has offered Republican presidential hopeful John McCain some costume suggestions.

As the Nov. 4 election looms, the Delaware senator poked fun at McCain’s promise that his policies differ from Republican President George W. Bush.

“I know Halloween is just around the corner. Folks, John McCain, dressed as an agent of change, that costume doesn’t fit,” Biden said as he warmed up the crowd for Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama in Sunrise, Florida, late on Wednesday.

Fashionistas prescribe tweezers for McCain, eye cream for Obama

In the wake her $150,000 wardrobe flap, Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin has complained that male politicians largely escape the scrutiny that she undergoes from the fashion police.

Not so fast. The Grooming Lounge, a Georgetown hair salon that coiffs many of Washington’s most powerful players, has weighed in with beauty tips for the men in the race.

Here’s what they have to say.

Republican John McCain: Slather on some “self tanning product” to exude a healthy glow, and tweeze the eyebrows. “Our research shows that the last five elections have been won by the candidate with more well-trimmed eyebrows,” the Grooming Lounge says.

Obama backer takes musical aim at Palin as VP pick

ROANOKE, Va. – Warming up a crowd for Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama in the Blue Ridge mountain region of Virginia, Sen. Jim Webb on Friday took aim at Republican vice presidential pick Sarah Palin’s qualifications.

Webb, who has deep roots in the Appalachian region, invoked a popular country music song about a romantic encounter gone bad to suggest that John McCain may regret his selection of the Alaska governor as his running mate.

rtx9nve.jpgAt a convention center before 8,000 supporters, Webb praised the judgment of Obama, a first-term Illinois senator.

Senator, can you spare a million?

WASHINGTON – If you want a recession-proof job, maybe being a member of Congress is the way to go.
 
With the U.S. economy tanking, the 535 members of the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate appear well-positioned to weather the storm, according to an analysis of their personal wealth by the Washington-based Center for Responsive Politics. rtx9mpc.jpg
 
In 2007, the U.S. economy grew at 2.2 percent, the slowest pace in five years, with only 0.6 percent growth in the last quarter of that year, according to government statistics.
 
Things were rosier for those sitting on Capitol Hill.
 
According to CRP’s survey, the net worth for members of Congress grew 11 percent in 2007, “despite indications last year that the economy was headed south.”
 
In that year, senators had a median net worth of about $1.7 million, according to CRP, with 61 percent of senators considered millionaires.
 
For House members, median net worth was about $684,000, with 39 percent in the millionaire club. That compares to about 1 percent of all Americans reaching that status.
 
rtx9mpt.jpgDemocratic presidential candidate Barack Obama, a senator from Illinois, had a fabulous year in 2007, when he became the 31st richest senator, up from 70th richest in 2006, thanks mostly to royalties from two best-selling books, CRP said. His net worth grew from about $800,000 in 2006 to $4.7 million.
 
Obama’s opponent, Sen. John McCain went the other direction, but don’t feel too sad. He was the 12th richest senator, with a net worth of $28.5 million last year, thanks mostly to wife Cindy’s family fortune. That was down from 10th place in 2006.

In picking Sen. Joe Biden of Delaware as his running mate, Obama went out of his way to achieve a balanced ticket, at least when it comes to money. Biden is near the very bottom of  the list of “poorest” senators with a net worth of $215,997 at most, CRP said.

CRP noted that 2008 might not be so kind to lawmakers’ bank accounts however, given the nosedive in stocks and other investments.

Obama, McCain take on each other’s VP picks at debate

HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. – They weren’t part of the debate, but vice presidential candidates Sarah Palin and Joe Biden did get some time in the spotlight on Wednesday.
 
At their final debate before the November 4 election, Democrat Barack Obama and Republican John McCain were each asked to rate the other’s vice presidential pick.
 
vps.jpgObama, when asked whether Palin, the governor of Alaska, was qualified to be president, demurred.
 
“You know, I think it’s — that’s going to be up to the American people,” the Illinois senator said. “I think that, obviously, she’s a capable politician who has, I think, excited the — a base in the Republican Party.”
 
Notice he did not mention her level of experience. 
 
McCain, when asked about Biden, said he disagreed with his Senate colleague but declared him qualified to be in the White House. “I think that Joe Biden is qualified in many respects. But I do point out that he’s been wrong on many foreign policy and national security issues, which is supposed to be his strength,” McCain said.
 
“In Iraq, he had this cockamamie idea about dividing Iraq into three countries,” the Arizona senator continued. “There are several issues in which, frankly, Joe Biden and I open and honestly disagreed on national security policy, and he’s been wrong on a number of the major ones.”

Click here for more Reuters 2008 campaign coverage

Photo credit: REUTERS/Jim Young

Biden ready to return to campaign, come out swinging

WILMINGTON, Del. – Expect Joe Biden to come out swinging Wednesday when the Democratic vice presidential nominee resumes his campaign after a five-day break to attend family matters.
 
rtx95to.jpgBiden goes to Florida where he’s ready again to hit Republican presidential nominee John McCain on the top issue among voters, the ailing economy.
 
He’s also expected to rip into McCain for increased attacks in recent days on Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama.
 
With a month to go before Election Day, candidates normally accelerate their campaign schedules. But with his son heading off to the Iraq war and mother-in-law dying after a long illness, Biden grounded his campaign to be at home with family.
 
He’s been in Delaware since the morning after his debate last Thursday in St. Louis with Republican rival Sarah Palin.
 
Both Biden and Palin gave what were widely seen as strong performances.
 
Biden told Newsweek magazine the next day — in an interview at a coffee shop near his home in Wilmington — that he was happy with the debate, that he liked Palin but that doesn’t believe their showdown will have much impact.
 
“The real issue is John and Barack,” Biden said.
 
Biden planned to watch Tuesday night’s Obama-McCain debate at home with family, an aide said.

Click here for more Reuters 2008 campaign coverage.

Photo credit: Reuters/Carlos Barria (Joe Biden during vice presidential debate Oct. 2)

In slip up, Palin calls Afghanistan “our neighboring country”

SAN FRANCISCO – Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin called Afghanistan “our neighboring country” on Sunday in a speech that could revive questions over her tendency to stumble into linguistic knots.rtx95kp.jpg

Three days after a mostly gaffe-free debate performance, the Alaska governor fumbled during a speech in which she praised U.S. soldiers for “fighting terrorism and protecting us and our democratic values”.

“They are also building schools for the Afghan children so that there is hope and opportunity in our neighboring country of Afghanistan,” she told several hundred supporters at a fundraising event in San Francisco.