Tales from the Trail

The First Draft: Preparing for a fall?

Are Democrats trying to soften the blow for President Barack Obama if the Democratic candidate for Virginia governor, Creigh Deeds, loses in the November elections?OBAMA/

The Washington Post thinks so. It says in a front page story that top Democrats sense that Deeds is likely to lose in the key swing state so they’re trying to distance Obama from him.

The article cites senior administration officials who are frustrated with the way Deeds has handled his campaign, saying he refused some strategic advice. They also say he did not reach out to some key constituencies that helped Obama win Virginia in the 2008 presidential race — the first time in decades that a Democrat won in that state.

A senior administration official said Deeds badly erred on several fronts, including not doing a better job of coordinating with the White House. “I understood in the beginning why there was some reluctance to run all around the state with Barack Obama,” said the official, who spoke to the newspaper on condition of anonymity in order to speak candidly about the race. “You don’t do that in Virginia. But when you consider the African American turnout that they need, and then when you consider as well they’ve got a huge problem with surge voters, younger voters, we were just a natural for them.”

So will this prep work help shield Obama from any fallout if the Democrat does not win the Virginia governorship?

The First Draft: Kerry reports in after Kabul visit

Senator John Kerry, who once aspired to host meetings in the Oval Office, will be visiting President Barack Obama in that room Wednesday to talk about his recent trip to Afghanistan.

Kerry, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, was credited with playing a key role in AFGHANISTAN/convincing Afghan President Hamid Karzai to agree to a second round of voting in a disputed national election.

A picture of him whispering into Karzai’s ear on Tuesday was splashed across the major U.S. newspapers on Wednesday and news programs gave detailed reports on Kerry’s behind-the-scenes shuttle diplomacy.

Poll finds a majority for ‘public option’

Americans are still sharply divided over President Barack Obama’s vision of healthcare overhaul, but they’re starting to come around  — again –  on the so-called public option, so says a new Washington Post/ABC News poll published on Monday.

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Fifty-seven percent of all Americans now favor a government-run insurance plan that would compete with private insurers while 40 percent are opposed, according to the poll.

That’s up from 52 percent support in mid-August, but still down from 62 percent in June.

How you like me now?!

hillaryRemember during the presidential campaign, when Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton was asked about her “likability” compared to that of  rival Barack Obama?

The inference was that people didn’t like her as much as they liked him, even after he told her during a presidential debate: “You’re likable enough.”

That was then.

This is now.

Secretary of State Clinton is more popular (or can we just say likable) than President Obama, according to a Gallup poll released on Thursday.

Slide in support for healthcare overhaul slows, poll says

USA-HEALTHCARE/USA-HEALTHCARE/OBAMAPublic support for President Barack Obama’s healthcare reform initiative has rebounded slightly following his speech to Congress this month, according to an NBC/Wall Street Journal poll released on Tuesday.

Forty-five percent of Americans approve of the president’s handling of healthcare, compared to 46 percent who disapprove, the poll found. In last month’s NBC/WSJ poll last month, 47 percent disapproved and 41 percent approved.

Obama delivered a healthcare speech to Congress on Sept. 9 followed by a media blitz to revive his case for reform. His healthcare overhaul initiative suffered a setback as the hot topic in a summer of raucous rallies and public debate.

The First Draft: Drag out that vacation a bit

For some Americans — including the president – there’s just one last week of summer before work and school get back into full swing. 

OBAMA/President Barack Obama found out that as president, sometimes a vacation isn’t always a break from work. So he decided to extend his time off a bit by going to Camp David next week after returning from Martha’s Vineyard.

While on the Vineyard Obama interrupted his family holiday a couple of times. First, to announce his renomination of Ben Bernanke as chairman of the Federal Reserve and then to speak after his friend, Senator Edward Kennedy, died of cancer.

Democrat opposes sending Guantanamo detainees to Leavenworth

A senior Democrat in the U.S. House of Representatives on Monday warned against sending detainees from Guantanamo Bay to Fort Leavenworth prison in Kansas, saying it could endanger U.S. relations with Muslim countries.

It was also another thorn in President Barack Obama’s effort to quickly close the controversial U.S. prison in Cuba.

RepresentativeCUBA Ike Skelton, chairman of the powerful House Armed Services Committee, acknowledged the difficulties the Obama administration was having finding a place to move the detainees, but in a letter to Defense Secretary Robert Gates he raised two problems with sending them to Kansas.

Uighurs held at Guantanamo plead to Obama for release

A group of the 13 Chinese detainees held at the controversial U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba appealed directly to President Barack Obama for their immediate release, arguing that they have been cleared by the United States of any wrongdoing and they questioned why it was taking so long to go free.

Cuba Guantanamo

The members of the Uighur ethnic group originally sent the appeal to Obama on March 8 but it was not cleared by the U.S. government for release until July 14, according to their attorneys. Two of the signatories have since been released to Bermuda, the lawyers said.

“After 6 years of investigations, the US military confirmed that we are innocent,” the Uighurs said in their letter. “We are innocent civilians, however, we are currently still being held in jail.”

The First Draft: Assessing the first six months

It won’t be a conversation over beer in the Rose Garden, but today President Barack Obama USA-OBAMA/gathers his Cabinet together across the street at Blair House to talk about the first six months of their term.

With public opinion polls showing support for Obama and for his main legislative priority — healthcare reform — waning, the president retreats with his Cabinet this weekend to talk things over.

Six months ago Obama and his family lived at Blair House for a couple of days before he was inaugurated as the 44th president.

Confucius? No, Yao Ming

Instead of a cultural icon, well-known author or scholar, President Barack Obama sought the advice of … a basketball player as he talked of the importance of strong U.S.-Chinese economic ties.

In a speech opening the Strategic Economic Dialogue between the United States and China, Obama — an avid basketball fan and player — quoted China’s most popular sports star and Houston Rockets center, Yao Ming.

Obama said he and Chinese President Hu Jintao both agreed the two nations needed to hold “sustained dialogue to enhance our shared interests.”