Tales from the Trail

Palin Strikes Back

Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin is firing back in a war of words with the the environmental group, Defenders of Wildlife Action Fund, over the group’s new national ad campaign which attacks her for promoting aerial hunting.

Actress, Ashley Judd, narrates the group’s You Tube video which takes direct aim at Palin and the controversial practice of  shooting wolves and other animals from low-flying planes or helicopters.

Palin, the failed Republican vice presidential nominee, blasts the ad campaign as attacks by an “extreme fringe group.” She accuses the group of misrepresenting Alaska’s wildlife management programs, which  aim to protect vulnerable wildlife from predators.

“It is reprehensible and hypocritical that the Defenders of Wildlife would use Alaska and my administration as a fundraising tool,” Palin says in a statement.

“Shame on the Defenders of Wildlife for twisting the truth in an effort to raise funds from innocent and hard-pressed Americans struggling with these rough economic times.”

McCain says wishes he were taking oath, promises Obama support

mccain1WASHINGTON – Former Republican White House candidate John McCain said on Monday he wished he were taking the presidential oath of office but pledged his support to former rival Barack Obama instead.

McCain, speaking at a dinner in his honor on the eve of Obama’s swearing-in, reflected on his own career of military and public service when mentioning Tuesday’s inauguration.

“I would have preferred to have sworn again tomorrow the oath I first took more than 50 years ago,” he said.

Obama says Bush “a good guy”

BUSH/PHILADELPHIA – Barack Obama, who pilloried his soon-to-be predecessor’s policies during two years on the campaign trail, said Friday that George W. Bush is a good guy.

“If you look at my statements throughout the campaign, I always thought he was a good guy,” the Democratic president-elect said on CNN about the Republican president whom he replaces Tuesday.

“I mean, I think personally he is a good man who loves his family and loves his country. And I think he made the best decisions that he could at times under some very difficult circumstances.”

Is Caroline Kennedy qualified to be a U.S. senator?

Slightly more than half of Americans say Caroline Kennedy has what it takes to serve in the U.S. Senate, according to a CNN/Opinion Research Poll. 

Kennedy, 51, is campaigning to fill the New York senate seat held by Hillary Clinton, who has been nominated for Secretary of State.

The only person who gets a vote is New York Gov. David Paterson, who will appoint any replacemUSA/ent for Clinton. 

The First Draft: Tuesday, Dec 2

Today’s the deadline for the Big Three auto makers to present their recovery plan proposals to Congress in order to get a $25 billion bailout.

All eyes will be on Capitol Hill to see the reaction of top lawmakers after the plans are in place. GM, Ford and Chrysler hope to convince lawmakers to approve the $25 billion in low-cost loans to help them survive the current downturn.  The deadline comes as auto companies are due to release their November sales figures, which are expected to be low.

We all knew the economy had been in a slump, but stocks tumbled around the world after confirmation that the United States had entered recession in December 2007. The confirmation by the U.S. arbiter of recession plus a warning from Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke triggered a sell-off on Wall Street which in turn sparked a domino-effect around the world.

from FaithWorld:

U.S. ideology stable, “culture trench warfare” ahead?

The U.S. Democratic Party has gained a larger following over the past two decades but America's ideological landscape has remained largely unchanged over the past two decades, according to a new report by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press. You can see the analysis here.

What is of interest for readers of this blog may be the implications of this "cultural trench warfare" -- with neither side gaining much ground from the other -- for red-hot social issues such as abortion rights and the future prospects for both the Republicans and the Democrats.

"The Democratic Party's advantage in party identification has widened over the past two decades, but the share of Americans who describe their political views as liberal, conservative or moderate has remained stable during the same period. Only about one-in-five Americans currently call themselves liberal (21 percent), while 38 percent say they are conservative and 36 percent describe themselves as moderate. This is virtually unchanged from recent years; when George W. Bush was first elected president, 18 percent of Americans said they were liberal, 36 percent were conservative and 38 percent considered themselves moderate," the report, released late on Tuesday, says.

Obama, McCain face rematch in Senate race

WASHINGTON – U.S. President-elect Barack Obama and his defeated Republican rival, John McCain, are engaged in somewhat of a rematch. The two are trying to help their respective parties win a razor-close U.S. Senate race in Georgia. 

McCain has accepted an invitation to attend a rally in Atlanta on Thursday for Republican Sen. Saxby Chambliss, while Obama aides are being dispatched to the state to provide a hand to Democratic challenger Jim Martin, a former state senator.

A Dec. 2 runoff is being held because neither Chambliss nor Martin obtained the majority required under state law in the Nov. 4 election to be declared the winner.

Van Hollen agrees to stay as House Dem campaign chair

WASHINGTON – Like the manager of a championship baseball team, U.S. Rep. Chris Van Hollen has agreed to stick around to try to help chalk up another winning season.

After last week’s election, which saw Democrats expand their majority in the 435-member House of Representatives by 22 to 257, Van Hollen indicated he had had enough. He said he didn’t expect to serve another term as chairman of the House Democratic campaign committee.

But House Speaker Nancy Pelosi stepped in and asked Van Hollen to keep the job, and he agreed, party aides said.

“The speaker believed he did a great job and wanted him to stay,” one aide said.

Welcome to Front Row Washington: Tracking U.S. politics

WASHINGTON – With the election over, it is time to say happy trails to Reuters “Tales from the Trail” election blog and give a warm welcome to “Front Row Washington” which will provide readers a view from Reuters correspondents working the political beat around town and the country.

Reuters has a front row seat to all the action in Washington, whether in the White House, Pentagon, State Department briefing rooms or in halls of Congress. From here we will offer readers insight, analysis and behind-the-scenes stories as Democrats move into the White House and Republicans try to influence policy decisions.

We heartily thank all our readers over the last year or so who have made this blog a success and invite you to stay tuned because it will be a fun ride over the coming years.

No record turnout in U.S. election

WASHINGTON – The anticipated record turnout of voters in Tuesday’s U.S. election did not materialize, with the percentage of eligible Americans casting ballots staying virtually the same as 2004, a report said on Thursday. 

The number of Americans voting is projected to reach between 126.5 million and 128.5 million, meaning the percentage who cast a ballot will be between 60.7 percent and 61.7 percent — roughly the same as in 2004, according to Curtis Gans of the Center for the Study of the American Electorate.
    
The lower-than-expected turnout was the result of a downturn in the number and percentage of Republican voters going to the polls, he said.
    
Predictions of high turnout were fueled by an increase in voter registrations and long lines at polling booths.
 
“But we failed to realize that the registration increase was driven by Democratic and independent registration and that the long lines at the polls were mostly populated by Democrats,” Gans said.

Click here for more Reuters 2008 campaign coverage.

- Photo credit: Reuters/Danny Moloshok (Voters fill their ballots at St. Jerome Parish in Los Angeles on Nov. 4)