Tales from the Trail

McCain, Obama nervous in last debate? Early gaffes…

Republican presidential contender John McCain and rival Democratic hopeful Barack Obama appeared to show a little nervousness in the early minutes of their third and final debate, rtx9lji.jpgeach committing minor gaffes.

McCain referred to the mortgage financing giants as “Fannie and Freddie Mae”, instead of their actual names Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

He then referred to the “$750 billion” bailout package aimed at thawing the credit market which Congress passed and President George W. Bush signed into law earlier this month. Minor mistake, it actually is $700 billion. 

Minutes later, Obama made the same gaffe, calling it a $750 billion program.

Click here for more Reuters 2008 campaign coverage

- Photo credit: Reuters/Gary Hershorn (Obama and McCain meet for their last presidential debate.)

Michelle Obama brings Republican date to the debate

rtr20fdd.jpgIt’s no surprise that Michelle Obama will be rooting for her husband, Barack Obama, when the Democratic presidential candidate squares off against Republican John McCain in their final debate at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York tonight.

What is a little startling, however, is that sitting right next to her will be Lilibet Hagel, the wife of Nebraska Republican Sen. Chuck Hagel.

The Obama campaign said Lilibet Hagel, a Republican who has endorsed the Democratic presidential candidate, will attend the debate as Michelle Obama’s “special guest.”

Tina Fey leaving Earth if Palin wins

WASHINGTON – Comedian Tina Fey says she’s checking out if her spitting image twin, Republican vice-presidential hopeful Sarah Palin, and White House contender John McCain win the general election next month.

Fey said she has loved playing Palin in the Saturday Night Live skits so far, especially with Amy Poehler who played Sen. Hillary Clinton in one and CBS News anchor Katie Couric in another.rtx8stl.jpg

“That lady is a media star.  She is a fascinating person, she’s very likeable.  She’s fun to play, and the two bits with Amy, that was super fun,” Fey told TV Guide. 

U.S. school students choose Obama over McCain, vote shows

If U.S. school students were allowed to vote, they would elect Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama, according to a poll by U.S. publisher Scholastic released on Tuesday.

scholastic.jpgAlmost a quarter of a million students voted online and by mailing paper ballots between August and Oct. 10 with 57 percent choosing Obama over his Republican rival John McCain, who garnered 39 percent of the vote.

In key swing states McCain took Colorado, Indiana and Missouri, while Obama won other battlground states including Florida, Iowa, Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania.

McCain stunned by Rep. Lewis comments on campaign

rtx9ib0.jpgWASHINGTON – Republican presidential hopeful John McCain had previously made it clear he was a big admirer of civil rights leader Rep. John Lewis — but now not so much.

Lewis, a Georgia Democrat, said late last week that he was disturbed by the negative tone of the Republican’s campaign, accusing McCain and his running mate Sarah Palin of “sowing the seeds of hatred and division” and that it reminded him of the segregationist era of Alabama Gov. George Wallace.

The lawmaker later clarified his remarks, saying he did not compare the two to Wallace and that his purpose was to remind candidates that “toxic language can lead to destructive behavior.”

McCain reschedules Letterman appearance after relentless ribbing

rtx8vu8.jpgRepublican White House hopeful John McCain will appear as a guest on the CBS ‘Late Show’ with David Letterman this week, after relentless ribbing by the comedian for the candidate’s last-minute cancellation last month amid the financial crisis.

The Arizona senator skipped his appearance on the late night show, telling Letterman he had suspended his presidential campaign so he could immediately return to Washington to participate in the negotiations on a financial bailout package in Congress.

However, McCain ended up staying in New York for another day, drawing repeated blasts by Letterman for standing him up as he tried to fill the empty airtime.  To fill some of the show, the comedian discovered footage of McCain getting prepped for an interview with CBS News’ Katie Couric instead of coming on his show.

Ohio governor tells gun owners not to fear Obama

CHILLICOTHE, Ohio – Gov. Ted Strickland on Friday sought to allay concerns of gun owners in his state who fear Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama would push for greater restrictions on firearms.
“There is probably no governor, I would say, in the United States of America, who has a stronger, better record in the support of the Second Amendment than does Governor Ted Strickland and I’m proud of that,” Strickland told a rally in Chillicothe as he warmed up the crowd ahead of a speech by Obama.
Strickland, whose battleground state is a focus of intensive campaigning by Obama and Republican John McCain, said he spoke directly to Obama about the right to bear arms in the Second Amendment.
“If you are a sportsman, if you are a gun owner, if you are someone that honors and respects the Second Amendment, you have nothing to fear from Barack Obama,” the Democratic governor said at a rally in the rural southern part of his state.
In June, after the Supreme Court struck down a strict gun control law in Washington, Obama said he supports the Second Amendment protection.
But he also added that he identifies with some living in inner cities who seek “common sense, effective safety measures” to try reduce gun violence in crime-ravaged communities.
In April, Obama’s comments to a closed-door fund-raiser in San Francisco saying small town voters would “cling” to their guns and religion because they were “bitter” over their economic conditions caused a storm of criticism.
McCain endeared himself to Americans in favor of the right to bear arms by picking Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, who enjoys hunting and who, according to former Tennessee Republican Sen. Fred Thompson, knows how to “field-dress a moose.”
Palin might differ with Strickland on which governor is a bigger champion of the Second Amendment. 

Click here for more Reuters 2008 campaign coverage.

- Photo credit: Reuters/Jessica Rinaldi (Guns are seen inside a display case at the Cabela’s store in Fort Worth, Texas June 26, 2008)

Trying to shore up base, Cindy McCain goes to North Carolina

rtx8sbh.jpgWith polls showing that Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama has a shot at winning North Carolina, Republican rival John McCain is sending his wife Cindy to the state on Saturday to shore up what has traditionally been a stronghold for conservatives.

Obama has made inroads in North Carolina and made the city of Asheville his spot for preparing for the debate held this week. Plus, two out of three polls released this week have shown the Democrat ahead by as many as five points while the third poll showed McCain ahead by 3 points.

Cindy McCain, who has been taking a more prominent role in the campaign in recent days, will serve as the Grand Marshal at the NASCAR Bank of America 500 race on Saturday in Concord, North Carolina, the Republican’s campaign said. 

It’s all about the ground game in final weeks of campaigning

As White House hopefuls Republican John McCain and Democrat Barack Obama make their final pitches to voters as the Nov. 4 election draws near, the two campaigns are putting the finishing touches on their ground games to identify supporters and get them to the polls.

Click here for more Reuters 2008 campaign coverage

A comic book look at McCain and Obama

comic.jpgIn a bruising campaign, John McCain’s unfaithfulness during his marriage to his first wife, Carol, and Barack Obama’s drug use as a young man have occasionally come up.
So when IDW Publishing set out to create biographical comics about McCain and Obama, it included those scandals.
In one panel from Obama’s youth, he is shown playing basketball and driving to the basket. A narration box says that “He was experimenting with tobacco, alcohol, pot and cocaine.” The comic helpfully explains that Obama was trying “to figure out where he belonged” at the time.
McCain’s former hard-partying lifestyle is also put on display in the comics. In one panel, he is seen dancing on a table with a woman in a skirt, from his days in the Navy. In another panel from the same time period, McCain is seen in a red convertible with a woman. The narration box reads that “He began seeing other women. Rumors flew around the base. Before long Carol knew, but kept silent.”
Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin has sought this week to paint Obama as a man who was “palling around” with terrorists by in the past associating with William Ayers, a former member of the radical group the Weather Underground. That connection doesn’t merit a mention in the Obama comic book. There is, however, a panel on Obama arriving at the Democratic National Convention in 2000 and not being able to get a floor pass.
The comics hit stands and bookstores on Wednesday. 

Photo credit: Reuters/Mike Blake.