Tales from the Trail

He’s In…

For everyone wondering whether John McCain would run for re-election to the U.S. Senate after that grueling presidential campaign — wonder no more.

 He’s in.  And he’s asking for help.

The Arizona Republican sent an email to supporters on Tuesday, making clear his intention to defend his Senate seat in 2010.

 ”The magnitude of the financial crisis that many American families are facing makes it clear to me that I want to continue to serve our country in the Senate,” McCain wrote.

McCain vowed to counter efforts by cmccain1ongressional Democrats who he said would increase spending and waste billion of taxpayers dollars.

“With so much at stake, now is not the time to step away from my work in the Senate,” he said.

McCain says wishes he were taking oath, promises Obama support

mccain1WASHINGTON – Former Republican White House candidate John McCain said on Monday he wished he were taking the presidential oath of office but pledged his support to former rival Barack Obama instead.

McCain, speaking at a dinner in his honor on the eve of Obama’s swearing-in, reflected on his own career of military and public service when mentioning Tuesday’s inauguration.

“I would have preferred to have sworn again tomorrow the oath I first took more than 50 years ago,” he said.

It’s official – Obama is the next U.S. president

It’s official. Barack Obama will be the next president of the United States.

USA/The Senate and House of Representatives just concluded a joint session in which the electoral college vote results of the Nov. 4 election were counted and certified with great fanfare.

Vice President Dick Cheney, who serves as president of the Senate, presided over the meeting and read the official results – Obama of Illinois received 365 of the 538 electoral votes for president and Sen. John McCain of Arizona received 173.  Sen. Joe Biden of Delaware received 365 electoral votes for the office of vice president while Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska received 173 votes, Cheney said. USA/

The First Draft, Thursday, Jan 8

President-elect Barack Obama will use a speech on the economy Thursday to try to build support for a massive stimulus bill aimed at lifting the United States out of a deep recession. 
 
BUSH/Obama is warning Congress that unless it acts quickly and boldly to pass his stimulus plan, with its estimated $775 billion price tag, the country could be mired for years in the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression.
 
The president-elect delivers his remarks at 11 a.m. at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia, with less than two weeks to go before his inauguration.
 
The speech comes as some lawmakers and financial experts are beginning to raise doubts about elements of the stimulus plan.
 
The Washington Post quoted lawmakers, tax experts and economists as saying some of the tax cuts in the Obama plan are likely to be too expensive and ineffective.
 
Obama’s choice to lead the administration’s charge on health care reform goes before a Senate confirmation hearing Thursday.
 
Former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle is expected to receive a cordial welcome from his ex-colleagues and Democratic leaders on the panel predict a smooth confirmation.
 
President George W. Bush travels to Philadelphia Thursday for an event touting the success of his No Child Left Behind education reform program.
 
The House of Representatives and the Senate hold a joint session to formally count the electoral votes from the November election, in which Obama defeated Republican rival John McCain.
 
The action will formally declare Obama as winner of the U.S. presidential vote.
 
The morning television news shows reported on Obama’s economic speech and new violence in the Middle East, where rockets from Lebanon struck northern Israel.
 
The attacks raised concerns about a possible second front in Israel’s two-week war against Hamas Islamists in the Gaza Strip.
 
U.S. stock futures dropped early Thursday on disappionting December sales by Wal-Mart, pointing to a lower open on Wall Street.
 
For more Reuters political news, click here.

Photo credit: Reuters/Kevin Lamarque (Obama listens as Bush speaks during an Oval Office meeting Wednesday with all the living former presidents)

from FaithWorld:

U.S. ideology stable, “culture trench warfare” ahead?

The U.S. Democratic Party has gained a larger following over the past two decades but America's ideological landscape has remained largely unchanged over the past two decades, according to a new report by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press. You can see the analysis here.

What is of interest for readers of this blog may be the implications of this "cultural trench warfare" -- with neither side gaining much ground from the other -- for red-hot social issues such as abortion rights and the future prospects for both the Republicans and the Democrats.

"The Democratic Party's advantage in party identification has widened over the past two decades, but the share of Americans who describe their political views as liberal, conservative or moderate has remained stable during the same period. Only about one-in-five Americans currently call themselves liberal (21 percent), while 38 percent say they are conservative and 36 percent describe themselves as moderate. This is virtually unchanged from recent years; when George W. Bush was first elected president, 18 percent of Americans said they were liberal, 36 percent were conservative and 38 percent considered themselves moderate," the report, released late on Tuesday, says.

The First Draft: Monday, Nov. 17

The Senate returns to debate a bailout for struggling automakers and consider additional stimulus money to prop up the struggling economy.
    
Democrats hope to pass both measures in their brief “lame duck” session, but they face opposition from Republicans in the chamber as well as President George W. Bush, who reiterated on Monday morning that any Detroit aid should come from the $700 billion already appropriated to prop up the economy.
    
In Chicago, President-elect Barack Obama will meet at noon EST with John McCain, his recent rival for the White House.  “It’s well known that they share an important belief that Americans want and deserve a more effective and efficient government, and will discuss ways to work together to make that a reality,” Obama’s transition team said on Monday. 
    
Obama and McCain will be joined by their two favorite wingmen — future White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel and South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, respectively.
    
McCain might put in a good word for New York Sen. Hillary Clinton, who is reported to be on Obama’s short list for Secretary of State. McCain and Clinton downed vodka shots together on a trip to Estonia a few years back.
    
 Back in the Senate, the Finance Committee will cross-examine the man who has been nominated to oversee the $700 billion bailout program. Neil Barofsky, the assistant U.S. attorney in the Southern District of New York who has been nominated to be Special Inspector General of the Treasury Department’s Troubled Assets Relief Program, testifies at 2 p.m.
    
The House is not in session, but new members elected two weeks ago are in town for an orientation session and a class photo. House Democratic leaders say they will quickly pass any bailout packages that clear the Senate.
    
U.S. stocks are expected to open lower as investors continue to fear a deep and lengthy global recession. According to one group of economists, we’re already there: real GDP is expected to fall 2.6 percent in the final quarter of this year and 1.3 percent in the first three months of 2009, according to a survey of 50 professional forecasters conducted by the National Association of Business Economists.

Palin open to idea of Senate run

WASHINGTON – In yet another television interview, former Republican vice presidential hopeful Sarah Palin revealed on Wednesday that while she was focused on her job as Alaska’s governor she was open to the idea of a Senate bid.

While at first saying it was “not necessarily” the kind of post she would like some day, she was open to the idea.

“I’m not going to close any doors that perhaps would be in front of me and would allow me to put to good use executive experience and a world view that I think is good for our nation,” she said in an interview with CNN’s “Larry King Live.” “I’m not going to close any door there in terms of opportunity that may be there in the future.”

The First Draft

President Bush tends to ceremonial duties Wednesday while the White House ramps up preparations for the G20 summit this weekend. The G20, which groups industrialized and rapidly developing economies, will be discussing moves to tackle the global financial crisis.

The House Financial Services Committee is looking into the mortgage crisis. It has a hearing on whether banks and other lenders are doing enough help people in jeopardy of losing their houses by changing the terms of mortgages.

The Supreme Court is hearing arguments on whether a religious group must be allowed to put its monument in a city park near a similar Ten Commandments display.

Can Ted Stevens thrust Palin back into the national spotlight?

ANCHORAGE – Gov. Sarah Palin has gone home to Alaska, but her return to the national political stage may come sooner than the 2012 U.S. presidential campaign.

If Republican Sen. Ted Stevens maintains his slim lead over Anchorage Mayor Mark Begich, it could once again thrust Palin into the spotlight. The 84-year-old Stevens could be re-elected for an eighth term despite being convicted of corruption last month. His conviction prompted calls for his resignation from Republican presidential candidate John McCain and Palin, his running mate. Stevens has vowed to fight on even though a convicted felon has never served in the U.S. Senate.

The conviction came a week before election day — too late to replace the longest-serving Republican on ballots in Alaska. If Stevens wins the election and then relinquishes his seat, that’s when things could get interesting.

Newsflash — Sarah Palin, wearing only a towel

WASHINGTON – Lots of news trickling in about Sarah Palin’s time on the campaign trail…

Like the time John McCain’s top aides Steve Schmidt and Mark Salter went to brief the fit 44-year-old Alaska governor in her hotel room at the Republican National Convention in St. Paul.

Here’s how Newsweek described it:  “After a minute, Palin sailed into the room wearing nothing but a towel, with another on her wet hair. She told them to chat with her laconic husband, Todd. ‘I’ll be just a minute,’ she said.”