Tales from the Trail

Lieberman offers congrats to Obama, pushes bipartisanship

WASHINGTON – Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman, previously a Democrat now an independent, bucked his colleagues a lot this year including in what some considered the ultimate betrayal — backing the Republican presidential hopeful, John McCain, and for the less than kind words he had for Democrat Barack Obama.

But after Obama’s victory, Lieberman issued a statement congratulating him on his “historic and impressive” victory.

There have been some questions about whether Lieberman might no longer be welcome in the Democratic caucus, but Sen. Charles Schumer said last month that that issue would be dealt with after the election.

“Now that the election is over, it is time to put partisan considerations aside and come together as a nation to solve the difficult challenges we face and make our blessed land stronger and safer,” Lieberman said in the statement. ”I pledge to work with President-elect Obama and his incoming Administration in their efforts to reinvigorate our economy and keep our nation secure and free.”

Click here for more Reuters 2008 campaign coverage

- Photo credit: Reuters/Brian Snyder (McCain and Lieberman at a rally in Colorado.)

Whiskey, not champagne, at GOP party

PHOENIX — It was a night for drinking whiskey rather than champagne at the Arizona Biltmore.
 
As Republican John McCain prepared his concession speech in a private room at the landmark Phoenix hotel, bottles of bubbly were most certainly not being popped in a nearby ballroom where long-faced Republicans were marking time. 
 
The race hadn’t yet been called for Barack Obama, but McCain had already lost Ohio, Pennsylvania and other key battleground states. But the giant TV screens weren’t showing election returns, and many still held out hope.
 
“Tonight as of right now, it’s still too close to call,” Arizona Sen. Jon Kyl told the crowd. “Win or lose, we’re going to have a tough four years ahead of us. We’re going to have to be a firewall against this radical leftist agenda.” 

Software engineer Ken Wharton likewise wasn’t ready to concede defeat.
 
“I’m going to wait until the end. It’s not over until it’s over,” said Wharton, who said he was worried that Obama would cut the military budget and back reparations for slavery.
 
Wedding planner Cynthia Ghelf likewise said she wouldn’t assume the worst until the California polls closed in half an hour. But she already had an escape plan: “I feel like we should move to Canada,” she said.
 
Ghelf’s friend Katie Kiesel, a stay-at-home mom, said she hoped the Republican party would learn to reach out to younger and more moderate voters and cater less to the conservative wing.
 
Others said the party should steer a course to the right. 
 
“He could have been a little more conservative,” Baptist preacher Jim Selma said of McCain. “His best move was appointing Sarah Palin. I think that energized the  base, and when he moved back toward the middle it got boring, I think, for the Republican side.”
 
By that point, officials were urging the partygoers to clear out of the ballroom and head to the hotel’s lawn. Polls on the West Coast were closing soon, and the results would be known quickly. It was time for McCain to speak.

Click here for more Reuters 2008 campaign coverage.

- Photo credit: Reuters/Rick Scuteri (A McCain supporter looks on at McCain concession speech)

Fox News first to call Ohio, after initial hesitation

WASHINGTON – Fox News was the first television network to project victory in Ohio for Barack Obama on Tuesday, then quickly rescinded it, but minutes later again gave the battleground state to the Democratic presidential candidate.

The call came as Karl Rove, the Republican strategist who helped George W. Bush win two presidential elections, stood silently on screen.

Fox first called the state shortly after its polls closed at 9 p.m., then rescinded its call moments later, saying it had “put the check mark in the wrong place.” Around 9:19 p.m., the network reaffirmed its initial call, joined within minutes by other networks.

Nostalgic McCain bids adieu to his traveling press corps

ABOARD “STRAIGHT TALK AIR” – Republican John McCain, who basically cut off contact with his traveling press corps in the last two months of the presidential race, walked to the back of his campaign plane on Tuesday to say goodbye.

“We’ve had a great ride, we’ve had a great experience, and it’s full of memories that we will always treasure,” the Arizona senator told reporters, who crowded into the aisle and the front of the plane’s press section to hear.

“We’ve spent a lot of time together, some, we’ve been together for almost two years,” he said during a flight from New Mexico to Arizona. “I wish you all every success and look forward to being with you in the future.”

Celebration at the White House — an election and birthday

WASHINGTON – It is a celebratory night at the White House this election night, and not just because President George W. Bush learns who will be his successor — it is his wife Laura’s birthday.

The first couple hosted a private dinner with friends and senior staff in the Old Family Dining Room at the White House and Bush gave his wife earrings to celebrate her 62nd birthday, according to White House spokeswoman Dana Perino.

The president gave a toast at the start of the dinner thanking everyone for their work and friendship, Perino said. He concluded by saying: “And may God bless whoever wins tonight.”

McCain, in final rally, predicts late night

GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. – Republican presidential candidate John McCain predicted a late night on Tuesday during a final rally in Colorado where he sought to spur voters to the polls.

“We’re going to be up late tonight,” he told an enthusiastic crowd at an airport hangar in this battleground western state. “I feel the momentum, I feel it and you feel it and we’re going to win this election. We’re going to win it.”

McCain trails Democratic rival Barack Obama in opinion polls, but his aides said tightening in Colorado prompted the election day stopover.

No matter what, one White House hopeful will return to the Senate

WASHINGTON – When all is said and done with the 2008 presidential election, one of the contenders will be returning to the U.S. Senate,  a harsh reality after coming so close to the White House.

For the first time in 48 years a senator will capture the White House, either Republican Sen. John McCain or Democratic Sen. Barack Obama, while the other will go back to being one of 100 in the deliberative body.

But over 48 years, it has happened many times, most recently in 2004 when Massachusetts Democratic Sen. John Kerry lost to George W. Bush.

Weather looks good for most of U.S. on Election Day

WASHINGTON – Election Day is finally here, the final opinion polls are in and now it’s time for Americans to make their way to the voting booth — but will weather be a factor?

According to the latest forecast maps, most of the country will not have adverse weather conditions, but there could be rain showers in two battleground states.

Good weather historically has helped Democrats.

Virginia, which has voted Republican since 1964, is now a toss-up state between Republican John McCain and Democrat Barack Obama and will likely see showers most of the day stretching from Newport News north to the suburbs outside Washington, D.C., and west toward Roanoke.

McCain wraps up 7-state day to tears, cheers in Arizona

PRESCOTT, Az. – Republican John McCain ended a seven-state cross country sprint in the wee hours of Tuesday morning with an appeal to his home state to send him to the White House.

The 72-year-old senator, whose partially hoarse voice was the only visible sign of the long day he had behind him, expressed confidence in his chances of victory despite polls that show him behind Democratic rival Barack Obama.

“I’m confident because I’ve seen the momentum, my friends,” he told the cheering crowd, roughly 1,500 strong. “All we’ve got to do is get out the vote.”

McCain wraps up crucial alien vote

John McCain is anticipating a little extraterrestrial help on Tuesday.

At a rally in Roswell, New Mexico, the Republican presidential candidate worked some local color into his speech.

“I’ve been to Roswell before and I know of the alien landing, and I am pleased to announce that I have received the alien endorsement.”

UFO buffs know the city as the site of a supposed 1947 crash by an alien craft, and several in the crowd waved alien dolls plastered with McCain stickers.