Tales from the Trail

Santorum seeks “strong showing” in two caucuses and a primary

Mitt Romney may have secured frontrunner status in the race for the Republican presidential nominee to take on Democrat Barack Obama in the general election –  but don’t count Rick Santorum out.

The former Pennsylavania senator has not won a Republican  nominating contest since he edged Romney in the Iowa caucuses. And the  “frontrunner” title briefly held by other  Romney rivals  has eluded Santorum.

But he’s still  standing and apparently planning on  sticking around for a bit longer –  even if he doesn’t pick up a triple win in two  caucuses (Colorado,  Minnesota)  and a primary (Missouri) on Tuesday.

“Winning would be great but doing well and showing that we’re a strong — we still have a strong base of support out there is — is going to be good enough for us,” Santorum said on CNN Monday evening.

” I think we certainly have a chance of winning one … or more of those states tomorrow.  But, you know, a strong showing is a strong showing. And, you know, we’re — we’re very encouraged that we’re going to have a strong showing in all three states.  And … we’ll go from there.”

Another Senate Republican calling it quits

WASHINGTON – Kit Bond has become the third U.S. Senate Republican in three months to announce plans to retire, creating another challenge in his party’s effort to gain seats in the Democratic-led chamber. 
The 69-year-old, four-term senator from Missouri disclosed his intentions with a touch of levity in a speech in his state capital of Jefferson City. 
“In 1972, I became Missouri’s youngest governor,” Bond said, according to a transcript. “Ladies and gentlemen, I do not aspire to become Missouri’s oldest senator. 
Bond’s decision to leave the Senate at the end of his current term in 2010 followed earlier such announcements by Mel Martinez of Florida and Sam Brownback of Kansas. 
Each is a blow to Republican efforts to rebound from the poundings they took in the past two elections that saw Democrats gain seats in the Senate and House of Representatives. 
“These retirements put Republicans in the defensive mode at the start of the new (election) cycle,” said Nathan Gonzales of the nonpartisan Rothenberg Political Report. “The more open seats there are the more difficult it is to make gains.” 
Incumbents traditionally have a number of advantages against challengers, including name recognition and the ability to raise money. 
While three Senate Republicans plan to retire, four Democrats from last year’s Senate have or intend to step down to join the new administration — beginning with Barack Obama. He recently gave up his seat from Illinois to prepare to move into the White House. 
Joe Biden of Delaware will soon resign from his Senate seat to be sworn in on Jan. 20 as Obama’s vice president. 
Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York and Ken Salazar of Colorado intend to resign once they win anticipated Senate confirmation as Obama’s secretary of state and interior secretary, respectively. 
The governors of New York, Delaware and Colorado are expected to replace Biden, Clinton and Salazar with fellow Democrats. Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich has named a Democrat to replace Obama. But there’s been a battle over the appointment since Blagojevich has been engulfed by a corruption scandal.

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.

Missouri voter sues over McCain campaign “hate speech”

(UPDATED – adds McCain spokesman comment)

KANSAS CITY – Missouri voter Mary Kay Green has had enough.

The supporter of Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama filed a lawsuit this week over what she claims is dangerous “hate speech” coming from the rival campaign of Republican presidential nominee John McCain.

rtx9mpk.jpgGreen, a 66-year-old grandmother and “semi-retired” civil rights attorney, filed the lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Kansas City this week accusing McCain, his running mate Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and their campaign manager Rick Davis of “intentionally, recklessly and irresponsibly” portraying Obama “as un-American, a terrorist by association,   and ‘not like us,’ a non-white individual.”

Palin, Green alleges in her lawsuit, has at her rallies used false statements to work supporters “into a frenzy causing them to make death threats” against Obama.

New state polls show shift towards Obama

rtx93zk.jpgWASHINGTON – A slew of new state polls released on Wednesday showed some shift in momentum toward Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama and away from Republican rival John McCain.

CNN/Time Magazine/Opinion Research Corp. released polls for five battleground states — Florida, Minnesota, Missouri, Nevada and Virginia — that showed Obama ahead among likely voters in all of them, though still within the margin of error in four.

Obama held a 51 percent to 47 percent lead in both Florida and Nevada, a 53 percent to 44 percent lead in Virginia, a 54 percent to 43 percent advantage in Minnesota and a narrow 49 percent to 48 percent edge in Missouri.

Obama sidesteps question on Clinton as VP

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CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. – Illinois Sen. Barack Obama sidestepped the Dream Team question on Tuesday when asked whether he would make rival Hillary Clinton his running mate if he beats her for the Democratic White House nomination. 

“Sen. Clinton is still competing. We haven’t resolved this nomination. I haven’t won the nomination yet,” Obama said, after jokinginly asking the audience member who asked the question whether he was a reporter.

“It would be presumptuous of me to pretend like I’ve already won and start talking about who my vice president’s going to be. I still have some more work to do.”