Tales from the Trail

Round 2 is over — which way are undecided voters swinging?

rtx9bhu.jpgRound two of the presidential debates between Republican John McCain and Democrat Barack Obama is over.

How did they do?

The town hall format was seen as an advantage for McCain. Did he live up to expectations?

Obama has been gaining an edge in many battleground states. Did he do anything to undermine or enhance his small lead?

Did they focus enough on the issues? Were undecided voters swayed?

Click here for more Reuters 2008 campaign coverage 

- Photo credit: Reuters/Carlos Barria

Second presidential debate town hall style

The second presidential tete-a-tete in Nashville on Tuesday was dubbed a “town hall” debate which freed Democrat Barack Obama and Republican John McCain from the stodgy podiums and allowed them to roam around the stage to talk to the audience and cameras.rtx9bg3.jpg

Often when members of the audience — 100 undecided Nashville voters identified by the Gallup polling company — asked a question, each candidate walked as close as he could and often thanked them by name for asking. Obama and McCain then paced back and forth across the stage to address the entire audience as they answered.

McCain, who loves the town hall format, got in one jibe against Obama for finally attending one after he failed to get him to agree to hold such discussions every week until the Nov. 4 election. “Senator Obama, it’s good to be with you at a town hall meeting,” McCain said.

Presidential hopefuls like Buffett for Treasury Secretary

rtx9bdy.jpgWhile White House hopefuls Republican John McCain and Democrat Barack Obama wasted no time trading barbs in their second presidential debate, they agreed on the one man they would like to see running their Treasury Department to help pull the U.S. economy out of a tailspin: investment guru Warren Buffett.

“A supporter of Senator Obama’s is Warren Buffett. He has already weighed in and helped stabilize some of the difficulties in the markets and with companies and corporations, institutions today,” McCain said.

“I like Meg Whitman, she knows what it’s like to be out there in the marketplace.  She knows how to create jobs.  Meg Whitman was CEO of a company that started with 12 people,” McCain said, referring to one of his own economic advisers who used to run online auction giant eBay.

Obama “The One”? McCain camp spoofs rival with trinket cufflinks

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Good or bad, you can’t accuse the John McCain campaign of not having a sense of humor.

rtx9b61.jpgThe Republican presidential candidate’s staff handed out cufflinks — yes, cufflinks — on Tuesday to surprised reporters with an unexpected decoration on top: a mock presidential seal for rival Democrat Barack Obama and the Illinois senator’s web site.

That’s not all. On the back, carefully engraved, were the words “The One.” 

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)

Maverick family to McCain: No way are you one of us!

PHOENIX – “He’s a maverick.” “He’s the consummate maverick.” “We’re a team of mavericks.” – You’ve all heard it time and again in recent weeks as Republican John McCain and fresh-faced running mate Gov. Sarah Palin slap on the maverick label to differentiate themselves from the GOP herd corralled inside the beltway in Washington.

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But the New York Times reported on Sunday that the real Mavericks – a storied south Texas family with a long tradition in progressive politics – are not too happy about what they say is the misappropriation of their family name.

“I’m just enraged that McCain calls himself a maverick,” the Times reported Terrellita Maverick, 82, saying. The San Antonio resident is the scion of a family which has been outspoken about liberal causes for generations, and has otherwise bucked conventions.

Slingin’ mud, campaigns get down and dirty

Up until now, the mud slinging in the presidential race has mostly been the Republican John McCain and Democrat Barack Obama accusing the other of lying about each other’s record and views on health care, taxes and the Iraq war.
 
Now, with less than a month to go until voters go to the polls, the McCain campaign has sent out on the attack his vice presidential running-mate Sarah Palin where she is slinging some serious dirt, accusing Obama of “palling around with terrorists.”

She was referring to William Ayers, a former member of the Vietnam War-era militant group the Weather Underground. Obama met him decades later in the 1990s when he first began his political career in Chicago and the two served on an education board together.

Two days later, she adjusted her language slightly in Florida, not repeating the line about “palling around with terrorists” but saying Obama was “someone who sees America as imperfect enough to work with a former domestic terrorist who had targeted his own country.” 

Biden cancels campaign events, illness in family

joe-wife1.jpgWILMINGTON, Del. – With a sick relative and a son headed off to war, Democratic vice presidential nominee Joe Biden has grounded his campaign for a few days. 

Biden canceled a visit to Washington, D.C., on Saturday night and a trip to Virginia on Sunday because of what a spokesman called “a serious illness” in the family of his wife, Jill.

 ”Hospice has advised the Bidens to remain close by, and we appreciate everyone’s respect for the family’s privacy,” the spokesman, David Wade, said in a statement.

Bush gave him a ride anyway

bush1.jpgST. LOUIS – President George W. Bush gave Kenny Hulshof a ride on Air Force One to a fundraiser on Friday for the Republican congressman who just hours earlier had voted for a second time against the financial bailout package. 

 Bush attended the fundraiser that was expected to raise $1.5 million for Hulshof who is running for governor of Missouri and trailing in the polls against Democrat Jay Nixon. 

Bush and Hulshof emerged from Air Force One side-by-side and waved to onlookers at the airport. 

Palin for president? McCain mum on running for second term

rtx95q1.jpgDENVER – It’s a question that has dogged Republican John McCain since he became the Republican presidential nominee.

Would he run for a second term in office if he wins the White House in November?

The 72-year-old Arizona senator, who would be the oldest person to become president in U.S. history, isn’t saying.