Tales from the Trail

Palin offers to play “stump the candidate,” but game doesn’t happen

Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin said on Wednesday she would be ready to deal with foreign policy if she and John McCain win the White House and offered to play “stump the candidate” to test herself on specific policy issues.

In their first joint “town hall meeting” with Palin taking questions from voters, an audience member asked Palin to dispel concerns that she lacked foreign policy experience. She responded by saying she expected critics to look for things to attack. “I think because I’m a Washington outsider that opponents are going to be looking for a whole lot of things that they can criticize,” she said.

palin.jpg“As for foreign policy, you know, I think that I am prepared and I know that on Jan. 20, if we are so blessed as to be sworn into office as your president and vice president, certainly we’ll be ready,” Palin said.

“I’ll be ready, I have that confidence,” she said. “If you want specifics with specific policy or countries, go ahead and you can ask me, you can even play ‘stump the candidate’ if you want to, but we are ready to serve.”

The crowd applauded and McCain stepped in to highlight Palin’s experience dealing with energy issues in Alaska, command of the Alaska National Guard, and her son’s deployment to Iraq.

Obama rakes in $9 million at Hollywood fundraisers

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. – Democrat Barack Obama raked in $9 million at fundraisers on Tuesday night flanked by celebrities. But he stopped far short of celebrating.

The White House hopeful kept the tone of his remarks  somber as he talked of the financial crisis that has cast a pall over the economy to an audience that included Pierce Brosnan, streisand2.jpgLeonardo DiCaprio, Jodi Foster and Jamie Lee Curtis.

“This should be a celebratory evening. We’ve got 48 days to go in a campaign, a campaign that started 19 months ago, at a time when a lot of folks thought we might not get here,” Obama told a reception of 800 people at the swank Beverly Wilshire Hotel.

Financial gloom doesn’t halt glitzy Obama fundraiser

So what does Barack Obama do after a hard day of defending the common man during the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression?
Throw a $28,500-a-head fundraising dinner, of course.
Followed by a $2,500-a-head reception featuring Barbra Streisand singing a song or two.

The Democratic presidential candidate spent the day Tuesday campaigning in Colorado, where he talked to supporters about the mortgage crisis that has reshaped Wall Street and caused many people to lose their homes.
Speaking a day after the stock market had its worst day since 2001, he assured a rally in the Denver suburb of Golden that he understood the impact the crisis was having from Wall Street to Main Street.
“Jobs have disappeared, and peoples’ life savings have been put at risk. Millions of families face foreclosure, and millions more have seen their home values plummet,” he said.
“These are the struggles that Americans are facing. This is the pain that has now trickled up.”
Then he jetted off to Los Angeles Tuesday evening for a pair of glitzy fundraisers that could be the biggest for Democrats during this election cycle.
Republican John McCain lost no time pointing out Obama was courting the stars instead of ordinary folk. 
“(He) talks about siding with the people, siding with the people — just before he flies off to Hollywood for a fundraiser with Barbra Streisand and his celebrity friends,” McCain told a rally in Vienna, Ohio, a critical battleground state. “Let me tell you my friends, there’s no place I’d rather be than here with the working men and women of Ohio.”

Streisand, a Democratic activist and Oscar-winning actress and singer,  initially endorsed Hillary Clinton but has embraced Obama since he won the nomination.
The Illinois senator has put together a formidable fundraising machine that has attracted hundreds of thousands of small donors, pulling in $66 million in August alone. That compared with $47 million for McCain.
Obama’s fundraising skill prompted him to forego federal campaign financing, despite earlier pledges not to do so. That enables him to raise and spend more than he could if he accepted federal money. But it also means he has to spend more time off the campaign trail raising money.

Gore had his Internet, McCain his BlackBerry

In the annals of inventor-lawmakers, Republican presidential candidate John McCain may rank even higher than Al Gore.
rtr21w17.jpgGore famously said in 1999 as he was preparing to launch his presidential bid that he helped create the Internet while he was a member of the Senate.
He was roundly ridiculed for the comment, which rumor and repetition quickly converted into an urban myth that Gore claimed to be the inventor of the Internet.

McCain evidently has been busy in the Senate too. Even though he doesn’t use computers or e-mail, the Arizona senator helped create the BlackBerry. So says one of his economic advisers, Douglas Holt-Eakin.
“You’re looking at the miracle that John McCain helped create,” Holtz-Eakin told reporters while brandishing a BlackBerry wireless e-mail device during a briefing in Miami.
Holtz-Eakin’s remarks came as he was defending McCain’s knowledge of the economy while stock markets reeled from the financial crisis.
Early in the campaign, McCain said his economic understanding wasn’t all that great. He’s been trying to claw back that statement ever since.
Holtz-Eakin cited McCain’s work on the Senate Commerce Committee, which oversees telecommunications and the senator chaired for a time, as evidence of his economic experience. Then followed the BlackBerry proclamation.
The Obama campaign, aware of the ridicule Gore suffered over the Internet, was quick to try to tar McCain with the BlackBerry.
“If John McCain hadn’t said that ‘the fundamentals of our economy are strong’ on the day of one of our nation’s worst financial crises, the claim that he invented the BlackBerry would have been the most preposterous thing said all week,” said Obama campaign spokesman Bill Burton. 
Click here for more Reuters 2008 campaign coverage.

Photo credit: Reuters/Robert LeSieur (McCain in New Hampshire Sept. 14)

Never mind polls, McCain says he’s still the underdog

mccain16.jpgMIAMI – The polls may show him advancing past Democrat Barack Obama, but Republican John McCain is still holding on to one of his favorite titles: underdog.

The Arizona senator told a Republican fundraising event that raised some $5.1 million on Monday that he and running mate Sarah Palin, the governor of Alaska, were still coming from behind in the race toward the Nov. 4 presidential election.

“We’ve got a strong headwind and we’ve got a lot to do,” he said to a group of donors. “No matter what you see in the polls recently, Governor Palin and I are the underdogs. We’re the underdogs. That’s where we like to be.”

Obama ad challenges McCain’s honor

WASHINGTON – Barack Obama is using a scathing new attack ad to challenge the fundamental perception that John McCain – former Navy aviator and prisoner of war — is honorable.
It was bound to happen. The McCain camp has been doing the same thing to Obama for weeks, trying to turn public perceptions about his strengths into weaknesses using attack ads and ridicule.
McCain went after Obama’s popularity and his strength as an orator. His campaign even tried to defuse the race issue by accusing Obama — who would be the first black U.S. president if elected — of racism.
So it was inevitable the Obama camp would eventually strike back — and it did after McCain was roundly criticized in the press for an ad that falsely accused the Illinois Democrat of favoring sex education for kindergarten children.
“What’s happened to John McCain? He’s running the sleaziest ads ever. Truly vile,” the narrator of the ad entitled “Honor” says as quotes pulled from newspaper columns scroll over an ever-shrinking photo of the Arizona senator.

“Dishonest smears that he repeats even after its been exposed as a lie. Truth be damned. Disgraceful, dishonorable campaign. After voting with Bush 90 percent of the time proposing the same disastrous economic policies, it seems that deception is all he has left,” it says.
McCain often speaks of duty, honor, country, sacrifice and has cultivated the image of being a man of honor.
The ad takes aim at that perception, asking if McCain is honorable, why is he running this kind of campaign.

Click here for more Reuters 2008 campaign coverage. 

Photo credit: Reuters/Neal Hamberg (Obama speaks in New Hampshire Sept. 13)

Biden ramps up attack dog role in Obama campaign

CHICAGO – Democratic vice presidential candidate Joe Biden, trying to step up his role of attack dog, on Monday labeled Republican John McCain as a “profoundly out of touch” politician using dishonorable tactics to try to win the White House.rtx88ms.jpg

In excerpts from a speech he is to give in Michigan, Biden, running mate to presidential hopeful Barack Obama, said both McCain’s policies and his campaign strategies mirror those of the unpopular U.S. President George W. Bush.

“We’ve seen this movie before, folks. But as everyone knows, the sequel is always worse than the original,” Biden will say in the speech he will give in St. Clair Shores, Mich.

Karl Rove says McCain, Obama have gone too far

rove.jpgJACKSONVILLE, Florida – Take it from an expert. Karl Rove, known as the architect of President George W. Bush’s electoral victories, believes White House candidates John McCain and Barack Obama have gone too far in their attacks on each other.

Rove, speaking on the television program Fox News Sunday, said an ad by the Democratic presidential nominee and Illinois senator criticizing McCain for not being e-mail savvy was unfair.

“His war injuries keep him from being able to use a keyboard. He can’t type. You know, it’s like saying he can’t do jumping jacks,” Rove said of the Arizona senator and former U.S. prisoner of war in Vietnam.

Obama presses sharper message against McCain, despite Ike

MANCHESTER, N.H. – As Hurricane Gustav threatened to wreak havoc on the Gulf Coast two weeks ago, Democrat Barack Obama made a point of toning down his campaign rhetoric during a swing through the Midwest, saying it was not a time for politics.

The White House hopeful and his Republican opponent John McCain also took a day off from battling each other on Thursday to observe the anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks in a solemn ceremony at Ground Zero in New York City.

But Obama, who has faced complaints from some supporters that he is not fighting back hard enough against McCain’s attacks, was undeterred in his determination on Saturday to keep up a more aggressive tone to his campaigning as Hurricane Ike raked Texas.

Obama: Republicans focusing on lipstick and Britney, not issues

CONCORD, N.H. – Barack Obama accused Republicans on Friday of trying to shift the focus of the presidential debate away from serious issues such as the economy and toward frivolous subjects like lipstick, Britney Spears and Paris Hilton.rtx8oqq.jpg

Taking on a feistier tone, the Democratic presidential hopeful sought to show his supporters he wants to fight back aggressively against escalating attacks by his rival John McCain.

Democrats have become concerned about the momentum gained by McCain and his new running mate as polls have shown McCain has pulled even or slightly ahead of Obama, erasing the lead the Democratic presidential nominee held throughout the summer.