Tales from the Trail

Who’s afraid of Mitt and T-Paw…

It turns out that Mitt Romney and Tim Pawlenty are the scariest pair of presidential prospects in the GOP field today, judging from a new Democratic ad and remarks by some Democratic Party hierophants.

Priorities USA Action, a political group founded by two former aides to President Barack Obama, targets Romney as a flip-flopper in a South Carolina TV ad that wields Republican Paul Ryan’s Medicare reforms like a political cudgel.

The 30-second black-and-white spot begins with Newt Gingrich’s “Meet the Press” remarks opposing what he called radical right-wing social engineering on Medicare. The ad then recounts Republican South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley’s defense of Ryan before turning finally to Romney: “Mitt Romney says he’s ‘on the same page’ as Paul Ryan … but with Mitt Romney, you have to wonder: which page is he on today?”

The New York Times says the ad will run this weekend while Romney visits South Carolina.

Pundits view the ad as evidence that Democrats have locked on Romney as the GOP frontrunner, at least for now.

Stewart, Colbert rally gets ‘puzzling’ endorsement

TELEVISION-EMMYSFirst came celebrity endorsements from Oprah and Arianna. Now Jon Stewart’s Washington “Rally to Restore Sanity” has a more puzzling promoter.

Here’s a clue: German summer pants for little William? (10 letters) 

Stumped? The answer is ”Will Shortz“. He’s editor of the New York Times crossword puzzle, which today devotes no fewer than eight clues to the Daily Show host, his fellow satirist Stephen Colbert of the Colbert Report and the joint rally they’re planning for Saturday on the National Mall.

For anyone flummoxed by the clues to 54 and 65 Across, Colbert’s version of the event is called the “March to Keep Fear Alive.”

Obama’s security tweaks unlikely to quiet political opponents

President Barack Obama will tighten airline security today in a bid to thwart any future attack like last month’s plot to bomb a Detroit-bound airliner. But will that silence his political opponents? Not likely. With congressional elections looming in November, the stakes may be too high.

Take Republican Rep. Pete Hoekstra, for example. He’s running for governor of Michigan and criticizing Obama’s handling of the bomb plot in hopes of making Democrats, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, look soft on security.

“If you agree that we need a governor who will stand up the Obama/Pelosi efforts to weaken our security, please make a most generous contribution of $25, $50, $100 or even $250 to my campaign,” he said in a widely quoted letter to prospective supporters.
USA
The letter caused an uproar among critics who accused Hoekstra of playing politics with national security. But the security issue seems destined to become a leading theme for Republicans in this year’s election battle for control of Congress, which they hope to turn into a referendum on Obama’s policies.

The First Draft: Will Giuliani try for the U.S. Senate?

He probably won’t run for New York governor but might for the U.S. Senate … or will he?
     
That’s the speculation swirling around Rudy Giuliani, the Republican former New York City mayor who walked tall after the Sept. 11 attacks and ran for U.S. president in 2008.
    
A spokeswoman says the 65-year-old former federal prosecutor has made no decisions.
    
But the New York Daily News, the New York Times  and the New York Post  all report that Giuliani has decided not to run for New York governor in 2010. USA-POLITICS
    
Analysts think he could defeat Democratic incumbent Governor David Paterson without much fuss. But overcoming a possible challenge from New York’s Democratic attorney general, Andrew Cuomo, could be have been difficult. Cuomo has not announced his candidacy.
    
The Daily News reports that Giuliani is strongly considering a Senate run against Democratic Senator Kirsten Gillibrand to fill out the remaining two years of Hillary Clinton’s term. Clinton, who lost in last year’s Democratic presidential nomination to Barack Obama, is now U.S. secretary of state.

The Daily News cites poll numbers showing Giuliani losing to Cuomo 53 percent to 43 percent in a race for governor,  but beating Gillibrand 54 percent to 40 percent for the Senate.

But the Senate speculation may not last long.

The New York Post quotes people close to Giuliani as saying a run for the Senate is unlikely.

Genealogist unearths first lady’s family tree back to 1850

A genealogist working with The New York Times has traced Michelle Obama’s family tree back five generations to a 6-year-old slave girl named Melvinia who was valued at $475.

The White House said first lady Michelle Obama had not known many of the details of her family history and enjoyed reading it. She had declined to comment on the story for The New York Times because of the personal nature of the subject.

OBAMA/“I don’t believe she knew or had known all of this, but enjoyed reading about her family history,” White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said.

That was awkward…

When President Barack Obama landed in Albany, New York, on Monday, the leader of his welcoming party was a man whose name has been linked with his in some news reports lately — New York Governor David Paterson. Or perhaps he should be referred to as “Governor-for-now.”

USAAccording to recent news reports, the Obama administration is so worried that his fellow Democrat Paterson’s unpopularity will drag down New York’s Democratic members of Congress and the Democrat-controlled state legislature in the November 2010 election that the president asked him to withdraw from the race. According to The New York Times, Obama’s request that Paterson step aside was put forward by his political advisers, but approved by the president.  Paterson said Sunday he was still running for office.

Paterson was standing at the bottom of the stairs to greet Obama when Air Force One reached Albany. The jet engines were so loud that no one could hear their exchange, but they shook hands and had a brief exchange that looked cordial. “Obama did a kind of half-embrace with his back to the press corps, and said something to Paterson, who listened for a moment and then said something back,” a White House press pool report said.

from MacroScope:

Sssh. Don’t say stimulus

William Safire, the language maven whose musings on how we use words have graced The New York Times and other newspapers for decades, has discovered something about the current crisis. Not for the first time, politicians are scrambling to avoid using common words that might get too close to the truth.

This time the target is the economy, specifically what needs to be done about it. In a column, Safire notes that some Democrats, notably the incoming White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel, are steering away from using the world "stimulus" when referring to efforts to, er, stimulate the economy. "Recovery" is being used instead. As in, recovery plan.

Who could argue with that? Republicans, apparently. According to Safire, they are favouring "spending", presumably as in spend, spend, tax, tax etc.

Media gets a lashing at McCain event

bristol1.jpgSCRANTON, Pa. – The news media got a brisk scolding from a supporter of Sen. John McCain at the Republican presidential nominee’s town hall meeting on Tuesday.

A woman in the audience thanked the Arizona senator for choosing Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska as his running mate and accused the media of putting more effort into investigating Palin than  the Democratic presidential candidate, Sen. Barack Obama.

“We want the media to start doing their jobs and stop picking on little children because of their age and their pregnancies,” she said, in reference to Palin’s unwed, pregnant 17-year-old daughter Bristol. “Shame on you. Shame on you.”