Tales from the Trail

Secretive conservative meeting set for next week

DALLAS – A leading social conservative, who asked not to be named, has confirmed reports in Politico and The New York Times that major players in the movement plan to meet in Virginia next week after Tuesday’s presidential election between Democrat Barack Obama and Republican John McCain.

Their mission will be  to chart the next course for their movement and the Republican Party.

If McCain and his running mate Sarah Palin – the rising star with this set — pull off an upset win, they will be in a jubilant mood. But the meeting seems more premised on the scenario of a McCain loss, which most opinion polls suggest at this point.

“There is a consensus that the Republican Party is in trouble,” said the source, who plans to attend the meeting.

“I think there will be a number of meetings after next Tuesday among social conservatives,” the source said, adding they would be aimed at reigniting the movement and keeping its agenda high in Republican circles.

Obama plays down possibility of “Bradley effect”

SUNRISE, Florida – Barack Obama said on Wednesday he was not worried that his race would cost him the presidential election.

Many polls show Obama, who would be the first black president in U.S. history, with a lead of between 5 and 9 percentage points over his Republican rival John McCain. But some pundits say the so-called “Bradley effect” could occur on Election Day on Tuesday that might cause Obama to lose.

The Bradley effect is named after former Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley, who lost the California governor’s election in 1982 despite polls predicting he would win.

Biden pokes Halloween fun at McCain

SUNRISE, Florida – With two days until Halloween, Democratic vice presidential candidate Joe Biden has offered Republican presidential hopeful John McCain some costume suggestions.

As the Nov. 4 election looms, the Delaware senator poked fun at McCain’s promise that his policies differ from Republican President George W. Bush.

“I know Halloween is just around the corner. Folks, John McCain, dressed as an agent of change, that costume doesn’t fit,” Biden said as he warmed up the crowd for Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama in Sunrise, Florida, late on Wednesday.

Colin Powell criticizes fellow Republicans, backs Obama

WASHINGTON – Colin Powell, a retired U.S. Army general and former secretary of state in the Bush administration, criticized fellow Republicans on Sunday and endorsed Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama.

The Republican Party “has moved more to the right than I would like to see it,” Powell told NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

Powell described Obama as an inspirational figure and denounced some efforts by White House contender John McCain and other Republicans to defeat him.

Witchgate? Another day, another Palin video …

DALLAS – Another day, another video showing Sarah Palin in church.

palin-2.jpg

The latest Palin You Tube video to show up on the Internet features grainy footage of John McCain’s vice presidential running mate receiving a blessing against witchcraft in a Pentecostal church in her hometown of Wasilla, Alaska.

You can see the video here. Palin says nothing in it and keeps her head bowed throughout the blessing that was reportedly given by a Kenyan pastor and witch hunter.

The video, like a previous one in which Palin tells a congregation that U.S. troops in Iraq were on a “task from God,”  has been widely reported and commented on. It reportedly was made in 2005 before she was elected governor of Alaska. It began circulating on the Internet this week.

Gay marriage, right to hunt among November U.S. ballot initiatives

gay-marriage.jpgDALLAS – When Americans vote for a new president on Nov. 4, many will also be asked to have their say on local issues and proposed state constitutional amendments.

Much of the attention has been focused on the attempts to ban gay marriage in California and Florida, which we have written about elsewhere.

Similar initiatives in 2004 were seen as crucial to President George W. Bush’s re-election victory as they energized the Republican Party’s conservative evangelical base.  Propositions are initiated locally people who collect enough signatures to have them put on the ballot. If passed by voters they carry the force of law.