Tales from the Trail

What Powell wants in a 2012 presidential candidate

Former Secretary of State Colin Powell, a Republican, endorsed Democrat Barack Obama in the 2008 presidential race.

But the former top U.S. military officer, who once considered a presidential run of his own, tells NPR’s “Morning Edition” he’s undecided about which candidate to vote for in the 2012 election.

“I’m always undecided in every election,” he said in excerpts of an interview taped for Friday. “I always measure each candidate against what I think the country needs at that time and I will vote for the person I think who is most qualified to serve the nation at that time.”

Powell said he could support a Republican in the 2012 campaign — if  someone emerges who is like the Republicans he voted for in the past.

“I’ve voted for Republicans who were strong on defense, who believed in a free and open economy, but who also understood that there’s a place for government in our lives, that government has a responsibility to those of our citizens who are in need and those of our citizens who are needy of health care,” Powell said.

Huntsman in the ‘middle’ in 2012 Republican field

Jon Huntsman is counting on right-of-center politics to give him an advantage  in the race for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination,   despite polls showing him trailing far behind  the favorites in a crowded field.

He says Democrat Barack Obama is too far to the left and the president’s other Republican opponents are too far to the right.

“This country is crying out for a sensible middle ground. This is a center-right country; I am a center-right candidate,” the former Utah governor said in an interview on ABC’s “This Week with Christiane Amanpour.”

Obama hosts Iftar dinner marking Ramadan

Three dozen foreign diplomats,  two Muslim American members of Congress  and some 9/11 families were among the guests invited to join President Barack Obama for what has become a White House tradition — an Iftar dinner celebrating Ramadan.

“Tonight is part of a rich tradition here at the White House of celebrating the holy days of many faiths and the diversity that define us as a nation,” Obama said in his welcome remarks.

“Like so many faiths, Islam has always been part of our American family, and Muslim Americans have long contributed to the strength and character of our country, in all walks of life. This has been especially true over the past 10 years,” Obama said.

Reuters/Ipsos poll: Majority says U.S. on wrong track

A large majority of Americans say the United States is on the wrong track and nearly half believe the worst is yet to come, according to a  Reuters/Ipsos poll released on Wednesday.

The poll reflects growing anxiety about the economy and frustration with Washington after a narrowly averted government default,  a credit rating downgrade by Standard & Poor’s, a stock market dive and a 9.1 percent jobless rate.

The Reuters/Ipsos poll  — conducted from last Thursday to Monday — found 73 percent of Americans believe the United States is “off on the wrong track,” and just one in five, 21 percent, think the country is headed in the right direction.

Palin sees U.S. economy as “sinking ship”

Fresh off her “One Nation” bus tour that may or may not have been a precursor to a 2012 presidential campaign, Sarah  Palin on Sunday likened the sputtering U.S. economy to a sinking ship.

“It’s very noble of President Obama to want to stay at the helm and maybe go down with this sinking ship,” said Palin, who herself  resigned as Alaska governor in 2009 with more than a year left in her first term.

“I prefer, many Americans prefer, that we start plugging the hole, that we start powering the build pump and start getting rid of this unsustainable debt that is sinking our ship. We don’t have to go the way of the Titanic,” Palin said in a  Fox News interview.

Obama fundraising watch: debt, progressives, and women on the Court

President Barack Obama stayed close to the White House for another round of fundraising on Monday, attending events in Washington where tickets went for $44 to $35,800.

Here are a few highlights from his remarks:

1.    Progressives should care about the debt and deficit. “It’s… as critical for progressives as it is for anybody, because if we want to have a strong foundation for us to provide opportunity in the future, we’ve got to make sure that we’ve got our deficit and our debt under control.”

2.   The president is pleased about having more “strong” women on the Supreme Court. “You can never have enough women on the Supreme Court.”

Hint of politics creeps in to rare Obama church appearance

Barack Obama is not shy about discussing his Christian faith, but the U.S. president and his family do not attend church regularly in Washington.

So a presidential visit is a rare happening among the city’s churches, and Easter is one Sunday when one regularly occurs.

This year the Obamas chose Shiloh Baptist Church — one of the oldest African-American congregations in the city, according to the White House — for their Easter service, drawing applause from members decked out in Sunday suits and fancy dresses.

Obama Bracketology — he picks Kansas, again!

They failed him once, but President Barack Obama is sure Kansas won’t fail him twice in a row in the NCAA Basketball  Championship.

In what has become a  much-anticipated annual ritual, Obama joined in on the March Madness and filled out his bracket on ESPN’s SportsCenter. He picked Kansas to go all the way, beating Ohio State in the final game.

“I’m giving them a chance at redemption,” Obama told ESPN’s Andy Katz as he stood, pen in hand, in the White House Library to complete his bracket for the men’s championship. “I picked Kansas last year to win it and I got hurt.”

Supreme Court votes 6-3 on attending Obama’s speech

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Six U.S. Supreme Court justices plan to attend President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address Tuesday night, the same number as last year when Obama criticized the court’s corporate political spending ruling.

There had been speculation that fewer justices might show up after Obama’s rare rebuke for the ruling by the conservative majority striking down corporate election spending limits.

A court spokeswoman said six of the nine justices plan on going. She said one who won’t be attending is Justice Samuel Alito, who happens to be in Hawaii this week for a previously scheduled law school speech.

Partisan politics at the state dinner party

streisandReuters’ Wendell Marsh was there as the guests arrived for President Obama’s state dinner honoring Chinese President Hu Jintao.

The evening might have been filled with glamour, but it did take place in Washington, so it was naturally marked by a few comments on partisan politics.

Democratic U.S. Senator John Kerry told members of the media that it was time to tone down recent heated political rhetoric. “You can’t come here with a scorched earth policy and expect to do the nation’s business and serve our greater interest.”