Tales from the Trail

Biden cancels campaign events, illness in family

joe-wife1.jpgWILMINGTON, Del. – With a sick relative and a son headed off to war, Democratic vice presidential nominee Joe Biden has grounded his campaign for a few days. 

Biden canceled a visit to Washington, D.C., on Saturday night and a trip to Virginia on Sunday because of what a spokesman called “a serious illness” in the family of his wife, Jill.

 ”Hospice has advised the Bidens to remain close by, and we appreciate everyone’s respect for the family’s privacy,” the spokesman, David Wade, said in a statement.

Biden didn’t campaign on Friday, either. 

Instead, he spent the day after his big debate with Republican rival Sarah Palin in his home state of Delaware.

His only public appearance was at a departure ceremony in Dover for 112 members of the Army Delaware National Guard, including his son, Beau, who is being deployed to Iraq for about a year. 

Bush gave him a ride anyway

bush1.jpgST. LOUIS – President George W. Bush gave Kenny Hulshof a ride on Air Force One to a fundraiser on Friday for the Republican congressman who just hours earlier had voted for a second time against the financial bailout package. 

 Bush attended the fundraiser that was expected to raise $1.5 million for Hulshof who is running for governor of Missouri and trailing in the polls against Democrat Jay Nixon. 

Bush and Hulshof emerged from Air Force One side-by-side and waved to onlookers at the airport. 

Amid inaction on financial bailout, blame game continues in McCain ad

PHOENIX  – U.S. lawmakers have yet to back a plan to try and stem the global financial crisis. But the vigorous round of finger-pointing over who is to blame for it continued on the campaign trail on Tuesday as John McCain’s camp singled out Democratic rival Barack Obama and former President Bill Clinton in a new ad.

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The 60-second spot argued that, while the veteran Arizona senator sought to rein in excesses by troubled mortgage titans Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac – which were rescued by the government earlier this month – Obama, an Illinois senator, did nothing.

“John McCain fought to rein in Fannie and Freddie,” a voiceover says. It then quotes The Washington Post saying McCain “pushed for stronger regulation … while Mr. Obama was notably silent.”

Hagel questions Palin experience

Sarah Palin has energized the Republican base since John McCain picked her as his vice-presidential running mate, but one prominent Republican is not impressed.hagelobama.jpg

Nebraska Sen. Chuck Hagel, a Republican, is questioning whether Palin has enough foreign-policy experience to serve as the country’s second-in-command. “She doesn’t have any foreign policy credentials,” Hagel told the Omaha World-Herald. “You get a passport for the first time in your life last year? I mean, I don’t know what you can say. You can’t say anything.”

“I think they ought to be just honest about it and stop the nonsense about, ‘I look out my window and I see Russia and so therefore I know something about Russia,” he added. “That kind of thing is insulting to the American people.”

Obama defends community organizers

newphil.jpgLANCASTER, Pa. - The work of community organizers, who work  for low salaries to help people in impoverished communities,  is getting lots of attention this week as Republicans poke jabs at Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama‘s job experience.

The three years Obama spent as a community organizer “maybe … is the first problem on the resume,” said former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani in his speech at the Republican convention on Wednesday.

Giuliani, who failed in his bid for the Republican presidential nomination and now runs a lucrative consulting firm, said community organizing sounded as though Obama had “immersed himself in Chicago machine politics.”

Media should back off Bristol Palin, Obama says

palin2.jpgMONROE, Mich. – Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama said on Monday the pregnancy of Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin’s daughter was not relevant to the campaign and reporters should back off of it.

Obama also said he was offended by a suggestion from an unidentified McCain aide that his campaign might have had a hand in spreading rumors about Palin and her family.
 
“People’s families are off-limits and people’s children are especially off-limits,” Obama told reporters following a campaign event in Monroe, Michigan. “This shouldn’t be part of our politics. It has no relevance to Gov. Palin’s performance as a governor or potential performance as a vice president. So I would strongly urge people to back off these kinds of stories,” he added.

There was no evidence Obama’s campaign had any role in stoking a rumor that Bristol Palin was actually the mother of Palin’s four-month-old. Reporters traveling with the campaign had been fascinated by the talk for days. Obama’s press aides even told reporters the rumors seemed far-fetched and they would have nothing to say about them.
 
Palin has been the subject of a rumor mill among liberal bloggers who have speculated that Palin faked her own pregnancy in order to cover up for her 17-year-old daughter, Bristol. These bloggers speculated that Sarah Palin’s fifth child, born in April with Down’s syndrome, was actually Bristol Palin’s child and that Sarah Palin was the grandmother. To rebut those rumors, Palin and her husband released a statement, first reported by Reuters, saying that Bristol was five months pregnant.
 
A senior McCain campaign aide was quoted in the Reuters story as suggesting that Obama’s campaign was linked to the bloggers who were spreading the rumors.
 
“I am offended by that statement,” Obama said when asked about it by a reporter. “There is no evidence at all that any of this involved us. Our people were not involved in any way in this and they will not be,” he added. “And if I ever thought there was somebody in my campaign that was involved in something like that, they’d be fired.” 

McCain’s VP pick Palin draws boos when mentioning Hillary Clinton

WASHINGTON, Pa. – So maybe saying nice things about Hillary Clinton at a Republican rally isn’t such a good idea.
 
John McCain’s new vice presidential nominee, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, acknowledged the New York senator on Saturday when reflecting on her new found role as a national candidate.
 
The reaction from a large chunk of the audience: boos.
 
“I think as well today of two other women who came before me in national elections, and I can’t begin this great effort without honoring the achievements of Geraldine Ferraro back in 1984 and of course, Senator Hillary Clinton,” Palin said.
    
palin2.jpgBoo. Boo. Boo.
    
So much for trying to win over disaffected Clinton supporters. They, apparently, are not turning up to McCain-Palin rallies.
    
But no matter. The Alaska governor breezed on with a nod to her own historic bid, in Clinton’s wake.
    
“It was rightly noted in Denver this week that Hillary left 18 million cracks in the highest, hardest glass ceiling in America,” she said. “But thankfully, as it turns out, the women of America aren’t finished yet, and the voters will shatter that glass ceiling once and for all.”
    
The McCain campaign has made a concerted effort to win over Clinton backers who were upset at her loss in the Democratic primary to Illinois Sen. Barack Obama.
    
Palin’s presence on the ticket puts the mother of five in line to make history as the first female U.S. vice president if she and McCain beat Obama and his running mate, Delaware Sen. Joe Biden, in the Nov. 4 election.

Photo credit: Reuters/John Gress (Palin campaigns in Washington)

Welcome to St. Paul!

“The Daily Show” has this welcome sign for Republican convention-goers in St. Paul, as posted on flickr:

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Will Biden help Obama with the Catholic vote?

biden1.jpgDALLAS – With Delaware Senator Joe Biden on the ticket, will Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama make inroads with wavering Catholics in the race for the White House? 
 
In an election year that has seen both Obama’s campaign and that of his Republican rival John McCain try to woo voters of various faiths it is sure to be a question that pundits will ask in coming days.
 
Obama on Saturday chose Biden, 65, as his vice presidential running mate, ending days of frenzied speculation.  
 
Biden, originally from the battleground state of Pennsylvania, will bring not only foreign policy expertise to the ticket — he chairs the Senate Foreign Relations Committee — but strong working-class roots and his Catholic faith.
Catholics had strongly supported Hillary Clinton in her failed bid for the Democratic nomination and a number of polls have shown a fairly close race among Catholics with Obama leading nationally by a small margin.
 
Conservative Catholics tend to line up with evangelicals on issues like abortion but there are also many liberal Catholics in America who like the Democratic Party on economic issues. 
 
Almost one-quarter of U.S. adults are Catholic but their electoral clout is somewhat diluted by their distribution.
 
According to a June report by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate at Georgetown University in Washington, nearly four in 10 U.S. Catholics reside in New York, California and Texas, none of which are closely contested. The first two are solidly Democratic and Texas is Republican.
 
The report said states “where the Catholic vote could make a real difference are Florida, Ohio and Louisiana.”
 
Pennsylvania is widely seen as another battleground for the Catholic vote.

Click here for more Reuters 2008 campaign coverage
      
 
(Photo credit: REUTERS/Jason Reed. Biden at a Democratic Party Debate in December)

72 Candles and a Running Mate

mccain1.jpgWASHINGTON – Republican White House hopeful John McCain may unwrap a surprise of his own when he celebrates his birthday next week in the battleground state of Ohio.

The Arizona senator turns 72 on Aug. 29 and plans to celebrate by naming his vice presidential pick at a rally in Dayton with 10,000 supporters, Politico.com reported .

McCain spokeswoman Brooke Buchanan would not comment on the report when reporters asked about it after his campaign plane landed in New Orleans on Monday evening.