Tales from the Trail

Age trumps youth for Italy’s Berlusconi

ROME – Age does matter, at least to Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, in the U.S. presidential race between 46-year-old Democrat Barack Obama and 71-year-old Republican John McCain.
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Asked about the U.S. election as he stood with Republican President George W. Bush at a news conference in Rome, the  Italian leader said he could not express any preference about an election campaign going on in another country.
 
But Berlusconi could not resist expressing a personal preference for the Republican candidate.
 
“This is for a very selfish reason, and that is that I would no longer be the oldest person at the upcoming G8 (summit), because McCain is a month older than me,” Berlusconi said.

The Arizona senator, who turns 72 in August, would be the oldest elected first-term president if he wins the November election.

The G8 summit takes place next month in Japan.

Click here for more Reuters 2008 campaign coverage

Photo credit: Reuters/Jason Reed (Berlusconi gestures during a news conference in Rome, June 12, 2008)

The McCain girls are back!

WASHINGTON – Look out Obama Girl, the McCain Girls have returned with another off-key tribute to their favorite candidate and his quest to reach “that hard warm place of mystery,” the White House.

Laura Bush defends Michelle Obama

rtx6hp9.jpgMichelle Obama has a new defender from those who say she isn’t patriotic enough — First Lady Laura Bush. In an interview with ABC News, Bush said that Obama’s February remark that she was proud of the United States “for the first time in my adult life” was misconstrued.

“I think she probably meant ‘I’m more proud.’ That’s what she really meant,” Bush said from Afghanistan.

“You have to be really careful in what you say because everything you say is looked at and in many cases misconstrued,” she said.

To Obama, it seems like there are more than 50 states

BEAVERTON, Oregon (Reuters) – The battle for the Democratic nomination has been long and tiring. So much so that Democratic frontrunner Barack Obama seemed to forget how many states were in the United States.

“Over the last fifteen months, we’ve obama4.jpgtravelled to every corner of the United States,” the Illinois senator said during a campaign event in Beaverton, Oregon.

“I’ve now been in 57 states, I think — one left to go,” Obama said. “Alaska and Hawaii I was not allowed to go to … my staff could not justify it,” he added after hearing laughter from the audience.

Obama camp to superdelegates: “Read the newspapers”

CHICAGO – As Barack Obama celebrated his compelling win in North Carolina and the unexpected closeness of the Indiana race on Tuesday night, his senior strategist said one of the campaign’s top tasks now is to court influential Democratic Party figures.
 
The Democratic senator from Illinois was seen as showing resilience after a bumpy ride in which he has struggled with questions about his former pastor’s fiery sermons and efforts by Clinton to paint him as an “out of touch” elitist.
 
Analysts said his rival Hillary Clinton, who won only narrowly in Indiana where she had been favored to do well, was likely to face increased pressure to exit the race because her showing did little to advance her argument that she would be more electable than Obama in a matchup against Republican Sen. John McCain.
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Asked by reporters whether there would be a slew of new endorsements from the party stalwarts and officials known as the “superdelegates,” Obama’s chief strategist, David Axelrod, was careful not to reveal too much.
 
“We’re going to be reaching out to them,” Axelrod told reporters as Obama, who would be the first black U.S. president, flew back home to Chicago from his evening rally in North Carolina.
 
The Obama strategist said the message in these conversations would be a simple one: “Read the newspapers.”

Click here for more Reuters 2008 campaign coverage.

Photo credit: Reuters/Chris Keane (Obama waves to supporters at his North Carolina and Indiana primary election night rally in Raleigh.)

Fiery sermons at Obama’s church unnerved Oprah

Fiery sermons didn’t drive Barack Obama away from his church, but they did unnerve one other prominent parishioner — media mogul Oprah Winfrey.

oprah.jpgAccording to Newsweek, Winfrey stopped attending Chicago’s Trinity United Church of Christ in the 1990s in part because she wanted to distance herself from the incendiary views of the Rev. Jeremiah Wright.

“She’s always been aware that her audience is very mainstream, and doing anything to offend them just wouldn’t be smart,” one anymous source tells the magazine. “She’s been around black churches all her life, so Rev. Wright’s anger-filled message didn’t surprise her. But it just wasn’t what she was looking for in a church.”

As politicians come to North Carolina, Edwards goes to Disneyworld

While Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton criss-cross North Carolina hunting for votes ahead of the May 6 Democratic primary election, one prominent resident of the state is missing: John Edwards.rtr1wh8r.jpg

He’s gone to Disneyworld, for a long-planned vacation with his family.

Edwards, who withdrew from his second presidential race in January, has not yet endorsed a candidate, though both Clinton and Obama have wooed him.

Though they’re supposedly away from the political infighting while at Disneyworld, Edwards’ wife Elizabeth is keeping her feet wet.

On field of dreams, Clinton mangles metaphor

hillary-in-south-bend.jpgSOUTH BEND, INDIANA – Sports are a natural metaphor for political campaigns — both have winners and losers, competing teams, and a final score.

In basketball-mad Indiana, Democrat Hillary Clinton held a rally on Indiana University’s basketball court in Bloomington on Friday, while rival Barack Obama played a three-on-three game with supporters later that night.

On Saturday, Clinton headed to South Bend, best known as home to Notre Dame‘s Fighting Irish football team. Former president Ronald Reagan, a Republican, laid claim to that franchise long ago, thanks to his portrayal of Irish football player George “the Gipper” Gipp in the 1940 film “Knute Rockne: All American.”

Handshake not enough to win over bar patrons

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton stopped in a sports bar in Gary, Indiana, on Friday, but these two customers who shook her hand said that wasn’t necessarily enough to win their votes.

Clinton challenges Obama to more debates

hillary.jpgEAST CHICAGO, Ind. – Democratic presidential candidates have held more than 20 debates. Evidently that’s not enough for Hillary Clinton.

Clinton is pressing her final rival, Barack Obama, to debate her in Indiana and North Carolina, which hold their primary contests on May 6.

Either state would be fine, but both would be better, Clinton said on Friday.

“I’ll go anywhere and anytime. And we’ll have that debate as long as Senator Obama will agree to actually meet me,” Clinton said Friday morning in Jacksonville, North Carolina.