Tales from the Trail

Obama shows Biden some love after debate mention

President Barack Obama broke from his standard campaign speech on Tuesday to show his running mate Joe Biden some love, heaping praise onto the vice president less than 24 hours after he put Biden under a harsh spotlight during the final presidential debate.

When explaining his decision to kill Osama bin Laden, Obama said in the debate to his Republican opponent Mitt Romney that “even some in my own party, including my current vice president, had the same critique as you did.”

“But what the American people understand is, is that I look at what we need to get done to keep the American people safe and to move our interests forward, and I make those decisions,” he continued.

During his first run for president in 2007, Romney had said it was not “worth moving heaven and Earth and spending billions of dollars,” to kill bin Laden, the backer of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon.

At a rare joint campaign appearance with Biden in the battleground state of Ohio on Tuesday, Obama seemed intent to smooth any ripples of discontent, telling the crowd nobody “knows better about foreign policy than my vice president.”

Rock band The National to headline Obama fundraiser in Ohio

Music group The National and Democratic National Committee Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz will headline a fundraiser benefiting President Barack Obama’s re-election campaign in Cincinnati on October 5, a donor to the campaign said.

The early-evening event in downtown Cincinnati will feature an acoustic concert by the alternative rock group, which is known for brooding songs like “Bloodbuzz Ohio.” The Brooklyn-based band, which formed in Cincinnati, has been Obama’s opening act a number of times since his first White House run in 2008.

The event will also feature remarks and a question and answer session with Schultz, a Florida lawmaker who has ripped Republicans for proposed austerity measures and changes to government-run healthcare for the elderly.

Obama campaign goes on the attack ahead of bus tour

President Barack Obama’s reelection campaign used Tuesday to pave the rhetorical road for the president’s two-day trip through the swing states of Ohio and Pennsylvania beginning on Thursday.

In a new television advertisement and during a conference call with reporters, the campaign and its allies tore into Republican challenger Mitt Romney for pushing policies and practices they say cost middle-class jobs and netted the former private equity executive millions.

The 30-second television advertisement, “Believes,” is airing in Ohio and Pennsylvania ahead of the President’s trip, as well as in several other states — such as Colorado, Florida, Iowa, North Carolina, New Hampshire, Nevada, and Virginia — the campaign sees as crucial to winning another term in the White House.

Boehner gets a taste of Republican budget-cutting zeal in Congress

House Speaker John Boehner got hit by the deep budget-slashing he advocates as the top Republican in Congress.

Many of Boehner’s fellow House Republicans, including a number of those backed by the anti-establishment Tea Party, voted on Wednesday to end a weapons project backed by Boehner in his home state of Ohio.
Boehner, who promised to bring wide-open debate to the House when he was elected its speaker last month, tried to brush off the setback.

“I am committed to the House working it’s will, and it did yesterday,” Boehner told his weekly news conference on Thursday.

Reuters-Ipsos Poll: Republican Portman leads in Ohio Senate race

It’s a bad news and not-so-bad news scenario for Democrats in Ohio.

The bad news is in the Senate race where Republican Rob Portman has a strong 13-point lead over Democrat Lee Fisher, 50 percent to 37 percent, according to a Reuters-Ipsos poll.

USA-ELECTION/“It’s starting to look insurmountable,” Ipsos pollster Chris Jackson says of the lead held by President George W. Bush’s former budget director and U.S. trade representative.

A majority of Ohio voters, 60 percent,  said Portman’s work with Bush made no difference in their vote, while another 30 percent of registered voters said it made them less likely to vote for Portman, including one in five independents. Nine percent said it made them more likely to vote for him.

Washington Extra – No Regrets

President Barack Obama’s a pretty smart guy.

OBAMA/Coatless, the sleeves of his white shirt rolled up, microphone in hand, bottled water at the ready, he fielded questions for an hour from ordinary folk perched on picnic tables and settled into Adirondack chairs in the leafy backyard of Ohio natives Rhonda and Joe Weithman in Columbus.

Nine asked about pocketbook issues — pension plans, jobs, Social Security, the cost of healthcare and childcare. Obama sprinkled his predictable answers with personal touches like how his and wife Michelle’s student loans took 10 years to pay off and were mostly higher than their mortgage, and how the fine print in credit card statements could flummox any of us, including “a pretty smart guy” like him.

The 10th question was shouted from left field. As Obama made his way out of the Weithmans’ garden, a reporter wanted to know if he regretted inserting himself into the emotionally charged debate over whether a Muslim cultural center and mosque is built near Ground Zero in New York City.

U.S. Senate Democratic contender bashes Democratic-led Washington

If there was any question that Democrats were in for a tough election year, go no further than Lee Fisher’s campaign flyer that’s been mailed OBAMA-HEALTHCAREout to Ohio voters.

“Washington is Working Against Ohio Families” it warns in large letters superimposed over a picture of dark storm clouds hovering over the U.S. Capitol.  On the flyer’s backside is the declaration: “Washington is broken and has let us down.”

As he tries to win the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by retiring Senator George Voinovich, Fisher’s campaign seems to be taking on the Democrats who control the White House and both chambers of the U.S. Congress.

Obama says football helmet will come in handy at State of the Union

OBAMA/President Barack Obama, who has taken some friendly fire from his Democratic Party this week, was presented with a handy piece of protective headgear on Friday that he promised to put to good use.

“I’ll need this during the State of the Union,” he said in Elyria, Ohio. Obama will give the address before Congress on Wednesday.

“I could knock some heads with it,” he said, brandishing the gleaming football helmet complete with the presidential eagle and his number – 44 – presented by the Riddell sports company during a visit to promote policies on jobs and healthcare reform.

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.