Tales from the Trail

Obama: could be fun to try putting lipstick on a pig

NEW YORK – As controversy surrounded Barack Obama’s comments about putting lipstick on a pig, the Democratic presidential hopeful found himself joking about the whole idea of putting makeup on an animal. rtr1oh7z.jpg

In an appearance on “The Late Show With David Letterman”, after 24 hours of back-and-forth over Obama’s use of the “lipstick” analogy, Obama found time to laugh.

“Have you ever actually put lipstick on a pig?” Letterman asked.

“The answer would be no,” Obama replied with a laugh. “But I think it might be fun to try.”

Obama said it was “silly season” in politics and noted that the saying “you can put lipstick on a pig, but it’s still a pig” is a common saying and it means that if you have a bad idea you can’t just dress it up and make it better.

“In this case I was talking about John McCain’s economic plans. That just calling them ‘change’, calling them something different doesnt’ make it better,” the Illinois senator said. “Hence, ‘lipstick on a pig, it’s still a pig.’”

McCain finds it tough without Palin

PHILADELPHIA – Republican presidential candidate John McCain cut short his first public appearance without running-mate Sarah Palin after chanting supporters of Democratic rival Barack Obama interrupted his speech.

After lunching with a roundtable of women at Philadelphia’s Down Home Diner, McCain shook hands with supporters and strode up to a podium to deliver a statement. But as he spoke, chants of “Obama, Obama, Obama” filled the room.

Reporters craned forward trying to hear the Arizona senator. Unfortunately for McCain — and possibly overlooked by aides who planned the event — a section of the diner opened up to a market where a crowd had gathered behind a cordon.

McCain, Palin draw large crowd in battleground of Virginia

FAIRFAX, Va. – It was Republican John McCain’s turn on Wednesday to relish the kind rock-star treatment usually associated with his Democratic rival, Barack Obama, in the tightening race for the White House.

rtx8mop.jpgUnder burning sunshine at a park in a suburb outside Washington, D.C., McCain and his newly minted running-mate Sarah Palin drew a crowd of approximately 23,000, which his campaign said was his biggest on the presidential trail.

Campaigns are notorious for inflating crowd estimates. But a McCain’s aide stressed the number was the real thing — provided by a fire marshal no less.

Bush to make rare fundraising appearance for McCain, but without McCain

rtx68cn.jpgWASHINGTON – President George W. Bush will make a rare appearance on the campaign trail on Friday, attending a closed-door fundraiser in Oklahoma City to benefit Republican hopeful John McCain and the Republican National Committee – but the candidate will not be there.

Despite being a prolific fundraiser during his first seven years in office, Bush has only attended a handful of events this year and almost all of them have been closed to the press, which experts have attributed to his low job approval ratings. His last appearance was in Gates Mills, Ohio, near Cleveland, in late July.

Bush attended three closed-door fundraisers during a fundraising swing for McCain in late May, but they only appeared together at one event and then in public for a brief minute afterwards at the airport before Bush departed.

Lieberman skips weekly lunch with irate Senate Democrats

(Corrected to reflect statement in last two paragraphs was by Reid’s spokesman, not Reid.)

WASHINGTON — Sen. Joseph Lieberman on Tuesday skipped the weekly luncheon meeting of congressional Democrats — many of whom denounce him as a turncoat for his support of White House contender John McCain at last week’s Republican National Convention.rtx8ewm.jpg

A number of lawmakers have even said Lieberman of Connecticut might be stripped of his chairmanship of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee in the new Congress next year if Democrats, as expected, increase their control of the Senate.

Cheney: Palin good candidate, can be effective VP

cheney3.jpgROME – Dick Cheney, considered one of the most powerful vice presidents in U.S. history, said Sarah Palin, a newcomer to the national political stage, was a good candidate and can be an effective vice president.
Republican John McCain’s surprise choice of the virtually unknown Alaska governor as his running mate in the contest for the White House has raised questions about whether she has the experience for an office that is next in line to be president.
“I think she’s a good candidate and I don’t see any reason why she can’t be an effective vice president,” Cheney told reporters travelling with him on a trip to Azerbaijan, Georgia, Ukraine and Italy.
Cheney, 67, a former congressman and energy executive, is considered to have wielded greater power as vice president than previous holders of that office. He was deeply involved in decision making on the Iraq war and has been one of the harshest critics of Russia in the Republican administration of President George W. Bush.
Palin, 44, a self-described “hockey mom,” is a first-term governor of Alaska and prior to that was mayor of Wasilla, a small town in that state.
In a fiery speech at the Republican convention last week, Palin touted her small-town roots and attacked her critics as out-of-touch elitists who do not understand everyday life in America.
McCain and Palin, the first female Republican vice presidential nominee, are running against Democrats Barack Obama, the first black presidential nominee, and Joe Biden, a Senate veteran, in the race for the White House that will be decided in the Nov. 4 election.
“We’ve had all kinds of vice presidents over the years and everybody brings a different set of experiences to the office and also a different kind of understanding with whoever the president is,” Cheney said.
“Each administration’s different and there’s no reason why Sarah Palin can’t be a successful vice president in a McCain administration,” he said.
“I thought her appearance at the convention was superb. I watched that with great interest. I loved some of her lines – what was the difference between a hockey mom and a pitbull? It’s lipstick,” Cheney said with a laugh. 

Photo credit: REUTERS/Konstantin Chernichkin  U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney arrives at Kiev’s airport, Sept. 4, 2008.

Click  here for more Reuters 2008 campaign coverage

Game On: Republican convention ends, tell us your thoughts…

rtx8f6n.jpgThe Republican convention is over, a whirlwind event interrupted by a hurricane hitting the Gulf Coast and energized by the pick of a woman vice presidential candidate. And with it comes the home stretch of the (seemingly interminable) 2008 presidential election.

Did presidential hopeful John McCain finally win over the conservative base by picking the conservative Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as his No. 2? Does he run the risk of alienating the independents drawn to him in the past with her selection? Did he lay out enough policy specifics to refute charges by rival Democratic candidate Barack Obama that details were lacking?

What else do voters want and need to hear now that the conventions are over?  Game on, bring on the debates!

Obama defends community organizers

newphil.jpgLANCASTER, Pa. - The work of community organizers, who work  for low salaries to help people in impoverished communities,  is getting lots of attention this week as Republicans poke jabs at Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama‘s job experience.

The three years Obama spent as a community organizer “maybe … is the first problem on the resume,” said former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani in his speech at the Republican convention on Wednesday.

Giuliani, who failed in his bid for the Republican presidential nomination and now runs a lucrative consulting firm, said community organizing sounded as though Obama had “immersed himself in Chicago machine politics.”

Inside the Tent: South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford

South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford feels pretty good about John McCain‘s chances in his state.

“If we gotta worry about South Carolina, go ahead and fold up the tent — the whole match is over,” he tells Inside the Tent contributor John Steward. “No worries in South Carolina, and if they come, we got real problems.”

Inside the Tent has more than 40 delegates and other attendees in Denver and St. Paul, equipped with video cameras to capture the conventions from the ground up. Steward is not a Reuters employee and any opinions expressed are his own.

These little piggies went to St. Paul


By Lea Radick and Ashley Sears

ST. PAUL – Take a walk through downtown St. Paul, Minnesota, while the Republican National Convention is in town and you can expect to see roving bands of policemen with riot gear, keeping the peace.

What you might not expect to see is a dozen or so police posing with two fuzzy pink pigs.

The police and the pork were all smiles for a camera-wielding crowd Wednesday morning – the third day of the GOP convention – after one of the passing cops suggested they pose with the pigs for a photo.