Tales from the Trail

What does Obama want for his birthday? Florida would be nice

President Barack Obama, whose birthday is Saturday, has at least one big idea for a birthday present – and it comes with 29 electoral votes.

A crowd of more than 2,000 people sang “Happy Birthday” to Obama during a campaign stop in Orlando, prompting Obama to joke that he ought to have brought a cake so that he could blow out the candles and make an electoral wish. “Winning Florida wouldn’t be a bad birthday present,” Obama said.

The Democrat, who regularly jokes about his graying hair, had another wry comment as he faces his 51st birthday, noting that first lady Michelle Obama thinks he looks 50.

Otherwise, Obama used the campaign event to attack his Republican rival Mitt Romney’s tax plans, saying they would favor the very rich, hurt middle-class Americans and pinch the economy. “They have tried to sell us this top-down tax-cut fairy dust before. And guess what, it didn’t work then. It will not work now,” Obama said. “We do not need more tax cuts for folks who have done very, very well. We need more tax cuts for working Americans.”

Obama was set to fly to Virginia, another of the key “swing” states expected to make the difference in the Nov. 6 election, after his visit to Florida.

Back at home, President Obama, family attend wedding

President Barack Obama got a brief respite from the euro zone debt crisis and an intensifying general election campaign on Saturday while attending the wedding of a top aide’s daughter with his family in his hometown.

The wedding of White House senior adviser Valerie Jarrett’s daughter, Laura, on a balmy night brought Obama administration allies and friends to Jarrett’s home in a neighborhood on Chicago’s South Side.

Laura Jarrett was to marry fellow Harvard Law School graduate Tony Balkissoon, according to local news reports.

Obama, Romney celebrate tough, compassionate mothers

In two Mother’s Day videos posted to their respective websites, the campaigns working to re-elect President Barack Obama and his likely Republican adversary Mitt Romney packaged the top women in their ranks as strong-willed but compassionate moms who played outsized roles in raising the children of the men vying for the job as leader of the free world come November.

The Romney campaign reprised family videos to highlight the household challenges faced by Ann Romney, who as a tough, doting mother grappled with five rambunctious boys — as well as multiple sclerosis and breast cancer. Ann compassionately disciplined the perceptually quarreling Tagg and Matt, the video notes, and served pancakes to Ben, who needed to be fattened up.

“She is an authentic person,” Tagg says in the video. “You know who she is when you meet her. She doesn’t put on airs. She doesn’t try to be something she’s not. She doesn’t try to measure what she is going to say to gauge how you are going to react. She just says what she thinks.”

Obama camp’s latest fund-raising draw? Clooney

 

First it was dinner with Barack. Then it was the chance to have dinner with President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama. The campaign has also added the chance to dine with the president and Vice President Joe Biden to the mix in its perennial “Dinner with Barack” fundraising scheme.

But now it’s offering the chance to meet someone who might make some earlier supporters sorry they didn’t wait to enter the campaign’s fund-raising lottery — Hollywood star George Clooney.

The Obama campaign sent out an email today telling supporters that if they donate $3 “or whatever you can,” they will enter a drawing to win one of two chances to attend a fundraiser Clooney is holding at his home in Los Angeles in May.

Republicans ride “Mommy Wars” to bank, if not ballot box

 

The flap over Ann Romney’s stay-at-home mom status may or may not help overcome the yawning gender gap between her husband and President  Barack Obama. But Mitt Romney’s campaign, and his Republican party, are looking to at least make a few bucks off the latest edition of the “Mommy Wars” — and perhaps keep them going with some well-priced goods.

Democratic pundit Hilary Rosen started the fracas on Wednesday night when she tried to make the point on CNN that Ann Romney, who has been deployed by her husband’s campaign to appeal to women voters, may not understand the economic challenges faced by most American women. Probable Republican nominee Mitt Romney is a former private equity executive with a personal fortune of up to $250 million.  But she slipped by saying that Mrs. Romney, a 62-year-old mother of five sons, had “never worked a day in her life.”

Mitt Romney’s campaign, which saw his ratings among women take a dive as Republican presidential candidates sparred over abortion, contraception and other divisive social issues, seized the moment. Ann Romney took to Twitter for the first time to say she had worked hard raising her sons. And party notables, including former first lady Barbara Bush, took to the Twitterverse and airwaves to dispute Rosen, who eventually apologized, as Democrats, including President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama, said they disagreed with her statement.

Michelle Obama likes just being “Meesh”

ORLANDO – First lady Michelle Obama craves normalcy sometimes. The woman who has seemingly endless options living at the White House loves it most when she can hang out and just be “Meesh” to her family and friends.

Obama, who realizes her life will get even busier leading up to the Nov. 6 election, said she tries to get away from the “bubble” created by security and media at the White House and be as much of a regular person as she can.

“I go shopping. I go to my friends’ houses for dinner,” she said in an interview with a few reporters.

Obama kids are happy campaigners, first lady says


The Obamas return home after their vacation in Hawaii, January 3, 2012. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

DALLAS – Michelle Obama, who entered the 2008 presidential electoral season reluctant to go out in public and urge voters to support her husband, shared a surprising nugget of personal information: their kids love to campaign.

The first lady, who has been fiercely protective of her daughters Malia and Sasha and their privacy since Barack Obama became president, said that to the kids, the campaign trail was fun.

Michelle Obama rocks out with kids in Des Moines

“Let’s Moooooove!” Michelle Obama yelled, standing on stage with Iowa celebrities, Olympic athletes and college students to lead 14,000 kids in dancing to celebrate the second anniversary of her healthy eating and fitness initiative.

Dressed in a red and white sweater with a heart on it, the first lady smiled broadly as she jumped and clapped, making the Ninja moves and fist pumps of the Northern Iowa University dance “The Interlude.”

After the dance, a breathless Bob Harper — one of the trainers on the Biggest Loser TV show — presented Obama with a massive cake to celebrate the program’s second birthday.

First lady likes Obama’s voice; rates Romney singing ‘beautiful’

Michelle Obama might have been one of the few people in the United States who knew President Barack Obama could actually carry a tune before he surprised an Apollo Theater audience this month.

In her debut appearance on NBC “The Tonight Show” as first lady, Mrs. Obama told host Jay Leno that her husband sings to her all the time.  She said she even knew what song it would be when she heard about his singing a line from Al Green’s “Let’s Stay Together.” Mrs. Obama gave a very tiny demonstration before conceding that the president was the better singer. Obama said her husband has a beautiful voice.

Asked about the performance turned in by Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney singing “America the Beautiful” on the campaign trail in Florida, Mrs. Obama said “its beautiful.”

Mitt Romney says Obama breaks vows, just like Kim Kardashian

President Barack Obama and reality television celebrity Kim Kardashian have something in common, according to Mitt Romney – they don’t know how to keep a promise.

“I’ve been looking at some video clips on YouTube of President Obama, then-candidate Obama, going through Iowa, making promises,” Romney said during a campaign stop in Council Bluffs, Iowa, on Sunday.

“I think the gap between his promises and his performance is the largest I’ve seen, well, since the Kardashian wedding and the promise of until death do we part,” said the Republican presidential candidate.