Tales from the Trail

Obama: You don’t have to talk tough to be tough

NEW ALBANY, Ind. – Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama on Wednesday brushed aside Hillary Clinton’s attempts to portray him as someone who lacked toughness and could not stand the heat of the media glare.obamatough.jpg

Clinton, who depicts herself as a fighter in her campaign speeches, has pounced on the Illinois senator’s critique of a television debate last week in which he was put on the defensive about issues such as whether he wears a flagpin and the fiery rhetoric of his pastor. She accused him of not being able to handle media scrutiny.

But Obama said it was the New York senator and her husband, former President Bill Clinton, who have been thin-skinned about press questions.

“Nobody has complained more about the press about questions at debates, about being mistreated than Senator Clinton has or President Clinton. And so we have been pretty tame in terms of taking our shots and just rolling with them,” Obama told reporters while campaigning in Indiana, which holds its primary on May 6.

Clinton has tried to underline her message that she is the tougher candidate by running an ad featuring images of al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.

Bill Clinton takes on Obama, media on race comments

Bill Clinton is making news again.

Campaigning for his wife Hillary in Pennsylvania, the former president accused the Obama campaign of “playing the race card” and later lashed out at a reporter who asked him about his comments.billclinton

Could this hurt Hillary’s prospects in the must-win Keystone state, which holds its nominating contest today?

Bill Clinton was so popular among African Americans during his time in the White House that he was sometimes known as “the first black president,” but much of that goodwill evaporated after the racially charged South Carolina primary in January.

‘Why can’t I just eat my waffle?’

obama-in-pa.jpgSCRANTON, Pa. – Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama kicked off a day of campaigning in Pennsylvania by dropping by a Scranton diner for a breakfast of waffles, sausage and orange juice.
 
But the press corps went hungry — hungry for an answer that is.
 
The Illinois senator brushed aside a question from one reporter on his reaction to former President Jimmy Carter’s description of a positive meeting with leaders of the Islamist Palestinian group Hamas.
 
“Why can’t I just eat my waffle?” Obama replied.
    
Reporters traveling with the Illinois senator, fighting with his Democratic rival Hillary Clinton over Pennsylvania ahead of its vote on Tuesday, are venting frustration over a lack of access to the candidate lately. Obama has not held a press availability in 10 days, though he has given dozens of interviews to local press in Pennyslvania.
    
Republicans have pounced on Obama’s “waffle” comment, suggesting he is evading tough questions.
    
“Today, Obama continued to dodge questions from the media, responding that he just wanted to eat his waffle,” the Republican National Committee said in an email sent to reporters that included press accounts of the waffle incident at the Glider diner.
    
Both Obama and Clinton are far less accessible to the media than presumptive Republican nominee John McCain, known for holding lengthy question-and-answer sessions with reporters on his Straight Talk Express bus.
    
The sessions last so long that some reporters say they run out of questions.

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Photo credit: Reuters/Tim Shaffer (Obama greets Pennsylvania supporter)

Philly supporters to Obama: pay up

Democratic candidate Barack Obama, who has built his candidacy on the promise of a “new kind of politics,” has run up against the old kind of politics in Philadelphia.

obamaspeakThe Los Angeles Times reports that Obama’s refusal to pay “street money” to volunteers in Pennsylvania’s largest city may cost him support in the state’s April 22 primary.

Local party leaders in Philadelphia expect candidates to deliver cash to help them get out the vote, the Times says. Teens who hand out leaflets typically get a $10 bill, while more experienced volunteers can get up to $100. The total for America’s sixth-largest city could come to $500,000.

Powell not necessarily in McCain’s corner

Colin Powell was President George W. Bush’s first secretary of state, but that doesn’t necessarily mean he’s supporting the presidential bid of fellow Republican John McCain.

“I’m looking at all three candidates, I know them all very, very well, I consider myself a friend of each and every one of them, and I have not decided who I will vote for yet,” Powell said on ABC’s “Good Morning America.”

Powell, like McCain, is a military veteran who publicly supported the invasion of Iraq in 2003, and he served as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff during the first Gulf War in 1991.powell.jpg

McCain’s Veep? The clear favorite is … nobody

WASHINGTON — Speculation about who would make a good vice presidential running mate for Republican John McCain ranges all the way from party also-rans Mike Huckabee and Mitt Romney to Democrat Bill Richardson. But a new Gallup survey shows the largest bloc of rank-and-file Republicans — 31 percent — are those who cannot name a candidate for the job.

mccainflagThe next biggest group, 21 percent, prefer the choice marked “other.”

Huckabee and Romney, who were both defeated by McCain in the Republican presidential primary race, led the pack of named choices with 18 percent and 15 percent, respectively, in the telephone survey conducted March 24-27.

Obama: the Stones fan who would be (like) Lincoln

WASHINGTON – Democratic voters in Pennsylvania are hearing all about presidential hopeful Barack Obama’s views on issues like Iraq and the economy — but where does he stand on those small but all-important, getting-to-know-you questions?

For instance, does the Illinois senator prefer the Beatles or the Rolling Stones? “Rolling Stones,” he answered without hesitation in a Tuesday interview with NBC’s “Today Show.”obamachange

And he went on in rapid-fire succession, not shying away even from his recent underwhelming performance in a Pennsylvania bowling alley.