Tales from the Trail

Sunny skies on Nov. 4 could help Obama

The gods could be smiling on Barack Obama come Nov. 4.

Weather forecasters AccuWeather.com predict sunny skies across much of the country on Election Day, and good weather has historically helped Democrats at the polls.

A 2005 study found that lousy weather typically helps Republicans, as less-dedicated voters who typically favor Democrats tend to stay home rather than wait in line in the rain and snow.

To be precise, turnout drops by just under 1 percent for every inch of rain, or one-half percent for every quarter inch of snow, according to University of Pittsburgh professor George Krause, who co-authored the study.

So what’s the outlook for Tuesday? Unseasonably dry and warm across most of the Lower 48 states, according to AccuWeather.

Showers are forecast for the Pacific Northwest and Upper Midwest, where polls show Obama leading Republican rival John McCain by substantial margins.

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.”

Press corps musical chairs on Obama plane

WASHINGTON – What a popular guy.  
 
Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama is so popular that some “tough decisions” had to be made about which members of the press corps would fly on his plane during the final days of the campaign.
 
Off the plane this weekend will be the Dallas Morning News, New York Post and Washington Times. Among those taking seats will be staffers from the Chicago Sun-Times and Chicago Tribune, according to a campaign official.
 
Flying with the candidate is crucial because it expedites getting to campaign events, eliminating the hassles of commercial travel, as well as provides access to the candidate or other officials on the plane.
 
“Unfortunately, demand for seats on the plane during this final weekend has far exceeded supply, and because of logistical issues we made the decision not to add a second plane,” said Obama spokeswoman Jen Psaki. 
 
“This means we’ve had to make hard and unpleasant for all concerned decisions about limiting some news organizations and in some cases not being in a position to offer space to news organizations altogether,” she said.
 
A campaign official said adding a second plane would have cut a city a day from the schedule and that also larger news outlets were facing new limits on the number of seats on the plane, such as for columnists and extra correspondents.
 
Conservative outlet DrudgeReport highlighted the fact that all three newspapers losing their spots on the plane endorsed Republican rival John McCain for president.

The Dallas Morning News said it had no evidence of a connection to its endorsement, blogging its explanation here. The New York Post wrote its response here, suggesting it was not in the news business to be “liked”. The Washington Times said it was unhappy with the decision which it noted came two days after it endorsed McCain. A campaign official said the Times was told before it made its endorsement. 
 
Psaki said the campaign would still help correspondents not on the plane with hotel reservations, space on the buses and ensuring they receive the information that is given to the reporters on the plane.

Click here for more Reuters 2008 campaign coverage

- Additional reporting by Matt Spetalnick

- Photo credit: Reuters/Jason Reed (luggage and equipment belonging to the press corps is laid out for a security sweep)

Move over, Tina Fey, John McCain’s coming to Saturday Night Live

STEUBENVILLE, Ohio – It’s official. Republican John McCain is making an appearance on the popular comedy sketch show Saturday Night Live this weekend, just days before the November 4 election.

SNL has seen its ratings surge this season on the popularity of its political skits, especially actress Tina Fey’s portrayal of McCain’s running mate, Sarah Palin

Palin, who bears a striking resemblance to Fey, appeared on the show two weeks ago, boosting ratings and drawing positive reviews.

Yale economist’s model gives Obama 4-point spread on McCain

DALLAS – Yale Economist Ray Fair’s econometric forecasting model for presidential elections gives an almost 4-point spread to Democrat Barack Obama over Republican John McCain in Tuesday’s White House election.

The model, based on data going back almost a century, has just been updated after Thursday’s release of figures showing U.S. economic output shrank at a 0.3 percent annual rate in the third quarter as the
biggest pullback by consumers since 1980 overwhelmed an increase in government spending.

On his web site, Fair says in a two-party presidential race, the Democratic candidate can expect 51.91 percent of the vote while the candidate for the incumbent White House party — the Republican Party — is seen garnering 48.09 percent.

Secretive conservative meeting set for next week

DALLAS – A leading social conservative, who asked not to be named, has confirmed reports in Politico and The New York Times that major players in the movement plan to meet in Virginia next week after Tuesday’s presidential election between Democrat Barack Obama and Republican John McCain.

Their mission will be  to chart the next course for their movement and the Republican Party.

If McCain and his running mate Sarah Palin – the rising star with this set — pull off an upset win, they will be in a jubilant mood. But the meeting seems more premised on the scenario of a McCain loss, which most opinion polls suggest at this point.

Obama plays down possibility of “Bradley effect”

SUNRISE, Florida – Barack Obama said on Wednesday he was not worried that his race would cost him the presidential election.

Many polls show Obama, who would be the first black president in U.S. history, with a lead of between 5 and 9 percentage points over his Republican rival John McCain. But some pundits say the so-called “Bradley effect” could occur on Election Day on Tuesday that might cause Obama to lose.

The Bradley effect is named after former Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley, who lost the California governor’s election in 1982 despite polls predicting he would win.

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.

Dueling media messages barrage voters

WASHINGTON – Voters are being barraged by scores of advertisements for president, congressional candidates and ballot initiatives and Wednesday night Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama airs a 30-minute prime time appeal to voters on most of the major television networks.

The 8 p.m. EDT show, which is estimated to cost close to $1 million for each major network slot, will focus on the economy and include a little live Obama from a rally he will be attending in Florida. Obama, ahead in most polls (narrowly in some), will also go on the popular “Daily Show with Jon Stewart” on Comedy Central to round out his media blitz.

Meanwhile his opponent, Republican John McCain, made a pre-emptive strike, issuing a new television advertisement knocking Obama for his infomercial and will go on CNN’s “Larry King Live” at 9 p.m. EDT to respond to it.

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.