Tales from the Trail

Bloomberg-led group pushes McCain, Obama on guns

bloomberg.jpgNEW YORK CITY -  A bipartisan group of 325 U.S. mayors on Wednesday sent a questionnaire to the U.S. presidential candidates, challenging them to take “common sense steps” to tighten the background check system for gun buyers.

Republican presidential candidate John McCain and his Democratic rival Barack Obama have until Sept. 8 to respond to the six questions, the group said.

“Illegal guns are used to murder 34 Americans every day, and we deserve to hear from those who seek the presidency what they will do to keep guns out of the hands of criminals,” said New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, a coalition founder.

Bloomberg, a political independent who considered running for president this year, said that criminals and terrorists can easily evade the current system.

His crusade against illegal guns has made him into something of a pariah among influential gun-rights groups in the United States.

Paris Hilton strikes back at McCain ad

WASHINGTON – You knew she wouldn’t take this lying down.
 
Paris Hilton struck back Tuesday at Republican presidential candidate John McCain for running a campaign ad that likened Democratic rival Barack Obama’s celebrity to that of the blond socialite and to singer Britney Spears.
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The video, posted on the Web site www.FunnyorDie.com, began with images of the 71-year-old Arizona senator: “He’s the oldest celebrity in the world, like super-old. Old enough to remember when dancing was a sin and beer was served in a bucket. But, is he ready to lead?”
    
Then the camera turned on the blond socialite, sitting on a poolside lounge chair in a skimpy leopard-print bathing suit.
    
“Hey America, I am Paris Hilton and I’m a celebrity too,” she said. “Only I’m not from the olden days and I am not promising change like that other guy. I’m just hot.”
    
“But then that wrinkly white-haired guy used me in his campaign ad, which I guess means I’m running for president. And I want America to know that I’m like, totally ready to lead.”

See more Paris Hilton videos at Funny or Die

    
She goes on to outline her energy policy, taking a little bit from both candidates running in the November presidential election: “limited offshore drilling with strict environmental oversight while creating tax incentives to get Detroit to make hybrid electric cars. … Energy crisis solved. “I’ll see you at the debates, bitches.”
  
    On Sunday, Hilton’s mother, Kathy Hilton, complained that the McCain ad was a waste of time and money. Hilton and her husband, a scion of the Hilton hotel chain, donated $4,600 to McCain’s White House bid. 
     
Click here for more Reuters 2008 campaign coverage.    

Photo credit: Reuters/Fred Prouser (Paris Hilton poses at the 2008 MTV Movie Awards in Los Angeles) 

McCain takes air out of tire pressure debate

HUNTINGTON, W. Va – Republican John McCain appeared to back down on Tuesday in his dispute with his opponent Barack Obama over tire pressure.
    
Last week in St. Louis, Obama told an audience that steps such as inflating tires to the correct levels could make a difference when it comes to conserving fuel.
    
Cue gleeful mockery from McCain. Obama was naive, inexperienced and not talking straight to the American people about energy, he said.
    
His campaign went further, distributing to reporters tire gauges engraved with the words “Obama’s energy plan.”
    
Predictably, Obama hit back calling McCain’s mockery “ignorant,” arguing his plans were being misrepresented and saying that experts backed his call over tire pressure. Equally predictably, McCain’s camp hit back.
    
The surprise came during a telephone town hall meeting McCain held on Tuesday with voters in Pennsylvania.
    
“Obama said a couple of days ago says we all should inflate our tires. I don’t disagree with that. The American Automobile Association strongly recommends it,” McCain said.
    
But he kept up his broad criticism of Obama on energy: “I … don’t think that that (inflating tires) is a way to become energy independent.”
    
The United States’ energy challenges will be a central factor in the months leading up to the election. But when it comes to how far to inflate your tires, the air seems to have gone out of the dispute.

Photo credit Reuters/Mike Blake (Gas station near San Diego)

Obama says Republican tire-gauge gag is “ignorant”

BEREA, Ohio – Democrat Barack Obama dismissed as “ignorant” attempts by Republicans to make fun of his suggestion that Americans properly inflate their car tires to save fuel.

suv.jpgAsked at a St. Louis town hall last week how people could contribute to the effort to conserve fuel, Obama said that steps such as inflating tires to the correct levels could make a difference.

Republicans have seized on the comment to suggest that the advice on tires was the sum total of the energy plan put forth by Obama.

Democrats see a little Cheney in McCain’s veep choices

(Posted by Donna Smith)

There’s a little bit of Dick Cheney in every potential vice presidential choice of Republican presidential candidate John McCain. At least that’s how the Democratic National Committee sees it. The DNC on Tuesday launched a new Internet site to drive home that point — www.TheNextCheney.com.

The Web site features an initial list of seven potential vice presidential choices for the presumptive Republican nominee and tries to tie them to President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney, who suffer from low approval ratings in public opinion polls.

“After lamenting the missed opportunity to make Dick Cheney his own vice president in 2001, McCain will have a chance very soon to choose his own Dick Cheney and we think its important that the American people have all the facts at their fingertips,” DNC spokesman Brad Woodhouse said in a conference call with reporters.

McCain gets taste of freedom at biker convention

john-m.jpgSTURGIS, S.D. – Republican presidential candidate John McCain attempted to harness a powerful engine of heartland conservatism on Monday — addressing a giant rally of motorcycle enthusiasts.

Hundreds of thousands of people converge on the remote town of Sturgis, South Dakota, each year for a week-long festival of rock music, wild, good times and American biker culture.

“I recognize that sound,” McCain said as dozens of bikers revved their engines as he walked on stage in a sustained growl of approval. “It’s the sound of freedom.”

Obama agrees to 3 debates with McCain

baracl.jpgORLANDO, Fla. – Democrat Barack Obama agreed on Saturday to a formal proposal for three presidential debates and one vice presidential debate, effectively scuttling Republican White House rival John McCain’s hopes for a series of one-on-one town hall meetings.
 
Obama campaign manager David Plouffe informed the Commission on Presidential Debates of the decision, which proposed the schedule, in a letter. Illinois Rep. Rahm Emanuel will represent the campaign in talks on the format and details.
 
The late conventions and short period before the first debate — the Republican convention ends on Sept. 4 and the first debate is scheduled for Sept. 26 — made it “likely” the four debates proposed by the commission “will be the sole series of debates in the fall campaign,” Plouffe wrote.
 
McCain had suggested the two candidates could appear together at a series of town-hall meetings, but negotiations between the two sides never produced an agreement.
 
The McCain campaign used the decision to take another poke at Obama’s “celebrity” image.
 
“We understand it might be beneath a worldwide celebrity of Barack Obama’s magnitude to appear at town hall meetings alongside John McCain and directly answer questions from the American people, but we hope he’ll reconsider,” spokesman Brian Rogers said.

Click here for more Reuters 2008 campaign coverage

Photo credit: Reuters/Scott Audette (Obama laughs alongside Marc Morial, president and CEO of the National Urban League in Orlando, Florida, on Aug. 2, 2008)

Country star John Rich performs for McCain

military.jpgPANAMA CITY, Florida – Republican presidential candidate John McCain, whose musical tastes are known to include the disco band Abba, took in some country music on Friday — courtesy of Nashville star John Rich.
 
Rich, half of the star duo “Big and Rich,” staged a waterside concert for McCain in the Florida Panhandle, a traditional Republican part of the battleground state.
    
McCain’s rallies earlier this year included the tune, Johnny B. Goode, and once he got tired of that, Abba’s 1977 hit “Take a Chance on Me” was his song of choice. 
    
Music at his events are now an eclectic mix from the Rolling Stones to Tina Turner and Brooks and Dunn.
    
Rich, in between songs, declared himself a west Texas conservative who gets frustrated when he turns on the television because “I always see the other side” of the political spectrum represented.
    
So, he said, he wrote a song called “Raising McCain,” which he performed.
    
“We’re all just raising McCain,” he sang. “You can get on the train, or get out of the way, we’re all just raising McCain.”
 
At that point, McCain pulled up in his Straight Talk Express bus with his wife, Cindy, and Florida Republican Gov. Charlie Crist and his fiance.
    
Noting the military veterans in the crowd, McCain said: “We will not surrender, not in Iraq or Afghanistan or anywhere else in the world.” 
    
Rich’s musical partner, Big Kenny Alphin, was not at the Country First concert, and is reported to have given money to the campaign of Democrat Barack Obama.

Click here for more Reuters 2008 campaign coverage

Photo credit: Reuters/Brian Snyder (McCain speaks July 21 outside Maine Military Museum in South Portland)

McCain’s epiphany: Obama thinks he’s a political messiah

Barack Obama’s soaring rhetoric on the campaign trail has given rival John McCain yet another epiphany.
 
Not only is Democratic presidential candidate the most popular celebrity in the world, not only has he injected race into the election, but he also must think he’s some sort of political messiah.
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That’s the message the Arizona Republican put in a new video sent to his supporters.
 
“It shall be known that in 2008 the world will be blessed. They will call him The One,” the announcer intones in a voice of reverential authority.
 
The text of the one minute, 14 second video strings together phrases and pictures loaded with religious imagery and uses them to ridicule lines from Obama’s high-flying speeches.
 
“A light will shine down from somewhere. It will light upon you. You will experience an epiphany and you will say to yourself, ‘I have to vote for Barack’,” Obama says.
 
In case you missed the point, McCain trots out Republican icon Charlton Heston in his role as Moses in the epic movie “The Ten Commandments.”
 
“Behold His mighty hand,” Heston shouts. And as the actor raises his staff to part the waters of the Red Sea, Obama’s presidential-style seal comes swirling through the waves while a chant of “O-ba-ma! O-ba-ma!” swells in the background.
 
The video comes at the end of a week in which McCain has turned to negative attacks and ridicule in an effort to blunt Obama’s advantage in the polls for the Nov. 4 election. McCain’s campaign accused Obama of injecting race into the campaign and said he was attention-grabbing celebrity, more popular even than Britney Spears and Paris Hilton.

Obama has fought ridicule with seriousness.
 
“It’s downright sad that on a day when we learned that 51,000 Americans lost their jobs, a candidate for the presidency is spending all of his time and the powerful platform he has on these sorts of juvenile antics,” said spokesman Hari Sevugan.
 
“Barack Obama will continue talking about his plan to jump-start our economy by giving working families $1,000 of immediate relief.”
 
“We were having some fun with our supporters,” McCain told a news conference.
 
“I don’t think our campaign is negative in the slightest.”

Click here for more Reuters 2008 campaign coverage.

Photo credit: Reuters/Joshua Roberts (Obama on Capitol Hill July 29)

McCain dodges Brett Favre brawl in Wisconsin

RACINE, Wisconsin — There aren’t many times when Republican presidential hopeful John McCain finds himself at a loss for words, but in Wisconsin today he steered clear of the controversy involving legendary Green Bay Packers quarterback Brett Favre.rtr20cnt.jpg

Favre is locked in a dispute with the Packers management over his bid to end his retirement and play again in the NFL.

Needless to say it’s a big story in these parts, and it was the first question that came up at a town hall meeting in the Milwaukee suburb of Racine.