Tales from the Trail

McCain says he’s opposed to raising taxes

comics.jpgKANSAS CITY, Missouri – Republican presidential candidate John McCain is tangling with taxes again.
The Arizona senator found himself in hot water with conservatives after telling ABC’s “This Week” last Sunday that “nothing is off the table” in trying to protect the Social Security benefits system for seniors.
At a town hall meeting in Aurora, Colorado, McCain said: “I want to look you in the eye: I will not raise your taxes nor support a tax increase. I will not do it.”
He added, “I am opposed to raising taxes on Social Security. I want to fix the system without raising taxes.”
That statement earned the praise of the conservative Club for Growth organization in Washington, whose president, Pat Toomey, called it “exactly what the country needed to hear.”
McCain, at a fundraising event for his campaign, returned to the subject. “I am opposed to raising taxes. I am opposed to raising taxes,” he said.
“And any negotiation that I might have when I go in, my position will be that I’m opposed to raising taxes. But we have to work together to save Social Security.”
“This young man standing right in front — Social Security beneifts won’t be there for him when he retires. Is this right for us to lay off to the next generation of Americans a burden that we imposed on them? No. And it’s not America, it is not America,” he said.

Click here for more Reuters 2008 campaign coverage

Photo credit: Reuters/Mike Blake (covers of McCain and Obama biographies at ComicCon covention in San Diego)

McCain crew finds Obama’s big flaw: He’s way too popular

WASHINGTON – Barack Obama can’t seem to please the folks running John McCain’s campaign for the U.S. presidency.
They criticized the Democratic candidate for not visiting Iraq, but then he spent nine days abroad, visited both fronts in the U.S. war on terror, didn’t make any fatal rtx855v.jpgmistakes and drew 200,000 people to a speech in Berlin.
Now the Republican’s campaign has a new beef against the Illinois senator — he’s way too popular, the most popular celebrity in the world, bigger even than Britney Spears or Paris Hilton.
It’s a point McCain makes in a new TV advertisement.
“I would say that it’s beyond dispute that he has become the biggest celebrity in the world. It’s a statement of fact. It’s backed up by the reality of his tour around the world,” McCain adviser Steve Schmidt told reporters in a conference call.
“They have more fans around the world than Britney Spears does. I make that bold blank statement,” added McCain campaign manager Rick Davis.
But McCain traveled around the world and met leaders too, so isn’t he a global celebrity as well? What’s the difference?rtr20ejt.jpg
“We see him more as a global leader than a global celebrity,” Davis said. “When people in Asia, Africa, Europe, Latin America, want to talk to somebody who has a leadership and knowledge of positions around the world, they talk to John McCain. I contrast that with Barack Obama’s own trip to Europe. The focus on media, the focus on events and activities, is much more something you would expect from someone releasing a new movie than running for president.”
McCain’s crew sees devious motives behind the cultivation of popularity. Davis said it lets Obama “create a fan base around the world that allows him to get a lot of media attention and avoids him having to address the important issues of our time.”
But won’t people see the ad as negative campaigning?
Barack Obama started it, Davis said. He attacks McCain harshly every day on the campaign trail. Plus he was the first to turn to negative advertising, both in the primary and in the general election.
“I’m going to do everything in my power to protect my candidate,” Davis said.
“I’m going to let the American public decide what is negative or not negative.”

So what do you think, is it a fair ad or not?

Click here for more Reuters 2008 campaign coverage. 

Photo credit: Reuters/Jim Young (Crowds cheer Obama outside No. 10 Downing St. in London on July 26); Reuters/Brian Snyder (McCain speaks at campaign evenint in Maine July 21)

Obama meets on No. 2 pick: Kaine? Biden? Bayh?

WASHINGTON – With the clock ticking on his hunt for a running mate, Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama spent nearly three hours on Monday meeting with his vice presidential search team and campaign advisers.obama-mon.jpg

Obama visited the downtown office of Eric Holder, a former deputy attorney general who is leading the process of researching and analyzing potential vice presidential picks, and emerged with little to say.

Asked by reporters who he met with, Obama replied: “Some guys.” As he got into his car, he asked reporters how they were doing then told them: “Get back on the bus.”

How to choose a VP? For McCain, rule one is “do no harm”

mccain-vp.jpgBAKERSFIELD, Calif.  – John McCain may not be giving any clues about who he wants as his No. 2, but the Republican presidential candidate does have a few ideas about how to choose. 

Rule one: Do no harm. 

“First, you want to make sure you have a candidate that’s not going to hurt the ticket,” the Arizona senator told a fundraising event webcast to American citizens in Bermuda.

“The second thing is, and I think it’s the key criteria, is it someone who shares your principles, your values, your philosophy and your priorities? Hardest thing for the president is to establish priorities.”

Former smoker McCain talks cigarettes, cancer with Lance Armstrong

posterobamamccain.jpgCOLUMBUS, Ohio – Republican John McCain  added a pledge on Thursday to his list of goals if he wins the White House: help people quit smoking. 

McCain, who smoked two packs of cigarettes a day before ceasing 29 years ago, told a summit organized by cyclist and cancer survivor Lance Armstrong that preventive measures were key to keeping people healthy. 

“So as president, I will work with business and insurance companies in support of programs to help people quit smoking,” he said. 

from Ask...:

Can a new president repair relations with Europe?

A man holds a banner reading 'Obama For Chancellor' before a speech of Democratic presidential candidate Senator Barack Obama during his visit in Berlin July 24, 2008.

Presidential candidate Barack Obama spoke at the "Victory Column" in Berlin's Tiergarten park in front of thousands of Germans and tourists in his only formal address during his week-long foreign tour. He called on Europe to stand by the United States in bringing stability to Afghanistan and confronting other threats from climate change to nuclear proliferation.

Relations between the United States and Germany reached a post-war low under former Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, who strongly opposed the U.S. invasion of Iraq. He said Germany would "not click its heels" and follow President Bush into war -- a position that tapped into wells of German pacifism but infuriated Bush. But Chancellor Angela Merkel, who grew up behind the Wall in the communist East, has worked hard to repair ties with the U.S. and has emerged as one of Bush's closest allies in Europe.

Barack Obama and Angel MerkelObama and Merkel met for the first time on Thursday and touched on Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Middle East peace, climate change and the global economy during their talk.

Obama’s Berlin speech echoes Democratic victory address

BERLIN – White House hopeful Barack Obama’s speech in Berlin urging Europeans to do more to help confront global security threats included some echoes of another Obama speech: the one he gave on June 3 when he clinched the Democratic nomination.

rtx8398.jpgAddressing more than 200,000 people in Berlin’s Tiergarten Park, Obama pressed Europe to stand with the United States in helping to stabilize Afghanistan and send a “direct” message to Iran to abandon its nuclear weapons ambitions.

“This is the moment when we must renew our resolve to rout the terrorists who threaten our security in Afghanistan, and the traffickers who sell drugs on your streets,” Obama said.  “This is the moment we must help answer the call for a new dawn in the Middle East.”

Following McCain’s path, Obama visits rocketed Israeli town

SDEROT, Israel – Barack Obama pledged his support for Israel Wednesday while standing in front of a pile of rocket and mortar casings in a town repeatedly attacked by the Palestinian militant group Hamas.rtr20giw.jpg
“I am here to say as an American and as a friend of Israel that we stand with the people of Sderot and all of the people of Israel,” the Democratic U.S. presidential candidate told reporters at the town’s police station.
Sderot has been a popular stop on the U.S. campaign trail this year. Republican presidential contender John McCain visited the town in March — but with a smaller press contingent — and also spoke to reporters in front of the piles of rockets.
“If people were rocketing my state, I think that the citizens from my state would advocate a very vigorous response,” McCain said at the time.

Obama had a similar view. “If somebody was sending rockets into my house where my two daughters sleep at night, I’m going to do everything in my power to stop that,” he said. “And I would expect Israelis to do the same thing.”

Since McCain’s visit, rocket fire on Sderot has largely stopped due to a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas.
Obama’s visit is aimed at allaying wariness among some Jewish voters in the United States who are concerned about his support for Israel and his policies for the Middle East.
Obama, a Christian, has had difficulty dispelling rumors suggesting he is a Muslim and that his advisers have a pro-Arab bent. The New Yorker magazine lampooned the image with a cover cartoon portraying Obama in traditional Muslim garb and his wife sporting an AK-47 — a picture that sparked outrage in many circles.
Obama was ridiculed and criticized in April when a top Hamas adviser told a radio interviewer that the Palestinian militant group — considered a terrorist organization by the U.S. government — liked Obama and hoped he would win the U.S. presidential election.
The remarks were labeled a Hamas endorsement and McCain used them as part of a fundraising appeal to supporters.
Hamas changed its mind about Obama last month after he declared strong support for Israel in an address to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. The group said the two U.S. candidates had the same policy on the Mideast and so it had no preference.

Democrats see post-election pressure to produce

rtr20gfs.jpgWASHINGTON – Democrats seem well positioned to increase their control of the U.S. Congress and win the White House in the November elections. But with such success will come pressure.  

Democratic Sen. Charles Schumer of New York says his victorious party would have to quickly resolve concerns of the American people — ranging from bringing down record gas prices and expanding health care to resolving the housing crisis and withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq.

“If we get in 2009 and we don’t solve people’s problems, they will kick us out as quickly as they put us in,” Schumer, head of the Senate Democratic campaign committee, told reporters on Wednesday.

As Obama heads to Germany, Republicans appeal to U.S. Berliners

WASHINGTON – With Democrat Barack Obama trying to look presidential abroad and soon to face friendly crowds in the German capital, the Republican National Committee has decided to strike back by appealing to Berliners closer to home.
The party will air radio advertisements Thursday in Berlin, Pa., Berlin, Wis., and Berlin, N.H., bashing Obama’s voting record on defense issues, accusing him of choosing “Washington politics over the needs of our military.”
“Obama said that nobody wanted to play chicken with our troops on the ground,” an announcer intones. “But when it came time to act, he voted against critical resources: no to individual body armor, no to helicopters, no to ammunition, no to aircraft.”

The ad is a rehash of claims made in a television spot being aired by Obama’s rival Republican presidential candidate John McCain. FactCheck.org, in reviewing those claims, said the statements “are literally true but paint an incomplete picture.”
It is true Obama voted against a war-funding bill last year after President George W. Bush initially vetoed a version that contained a date for withdrawal from Iraq, the independent monitoring group said. Before that, Obama had cast at least 10 votes for war-funding bills, it said.

Obama’s campaign dismissed the ad as “distasteful and misleading.”
The RNC attacks are unlikely to dampen enthusiasm for Obama when he arrives Thursday in Berlin, Germany. A recent poll by the Bild newspaper found 72 percent of Germans would vote for Obama over McCain if they had a vote in U.S. elections.
Even German Chancellor Angela Merkel, a Bush friend who expressed displeasure over electioneering ahead of Obama’s visit, professed herself an admirer, telling reporters she thought the Democratic presidential candidate was “well-equipped — physically, mentally and politically.”