Tales from the Trail
from Environment Forum:
By now, almost everybody -- with the possible exception of Republican Senate candidate Carly Fiorina -- realizes there's a difference between climate and weather. Fiorina, running in the California primary and ultimately aiming to unseat Democrat Barbara Boxer, paid for and appeared in a campaign ad slamming the sitting senator for being "worried about the weather" when there are serious concerns like terrorism to deal with.
An attack ad this week daubing Arizona Senator John McCain with blue face-paint like a cobalt-toned creature from the sci-fi blockbuster film ”Avatar” triggered a row in the desert state’s increasingly heated Republican primary race.
Republican U.S. Senator Arlen Specter, 79, of Pennsylvania appears to face a tough run next year for reelection to a sixth term.
And he can blame his problems largely on his decision last month to break ranks with fellow Republicans and vote for President Barack Obama’s $787 economic stimulus package.
Those are the findings of a Quinnipiac University poll of about 1,000 Pennsylvania voters released on Wednesday.
The Connecticut-based university found that Specter, viewed as a moderate, trails former conservative congressman Pat Toomey, his likely Republican primary challenger, by a margin of 41 percent to 27 percent. Specter narrowly defeated Toomey in a 2004 primary battle.
Another and somewhat smaller poll by Franklin & Marshall College in Pennsylvania was a mixed bag for Specter.
While the survey showed Specter leading Toomey 33 percent to 18 percent, it found that 49 percent of respondents were undecided or favored others.
That survey of 662 people also found that less than half — 40 percent — believe Specter deserves another term, with 46 percent saying it is “time for a change.”
The Quinnipiac survey showed Democrats and independents backed Specter’s support of Obama’s stimulus package. But Republicans opposed it — 70 percent to 25 percent.
Both surveys were conducted in recent days and had a margin of error between plus or minus of three to four percentage points.
“Pennsylvania Republicans are so unhappy with Sen. Specter’s vote for President Barack Obama’s stimulus package and so-called pork barrel spending that they are voting for a former congressman they hardly know,” said Clay Richards, assistant director of Quinnipiac University Polling Institute.
Richards added, however, if Specter survives the primary, he would have a lot going for him in the general election since there currently seems to be no strong Democratic contender.
But Specter faces other problems.
He stepped into a political hornet’s nest on Tuesday when he opposed a bill to make it easier for workers to unionize, a top legislative goal of organized labor but anathema to many in the business community and his own party.
So if Specter wins the Republican primary, he can expect to be opposed by energized union supporters in the general election.
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WASHINGTON – Remember John Edwards?
He ran a spirited campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination, never caught much fire and dropped out of the race about, oh, it feels like 10 years ago (actually it was January).
The former North Carolina senator has kept a low profile ever since and has resisted entreaties from the remaining Democrats, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, for his endorsement.
And he is still resisting, as voters cast ballots on Tuesday in his home state’s Democratic primary election, according to People Magazine, which tracked down Edwards and his wife, Elizabeth.
Edwards, who was John Kerry’s vice presidential running mate in 2004, told People he likes Clinton’s “tenacity” but sees “a lot of the old politics” in her.
He likes Obama, too, but “sometimes I want to see more substance under the rhetoric.”
Bottom line, according to People, rather than endorse one or the other, Edwards and his wife will save their political capital for causes such as fighting poverty and improving U.S. health care.
KEMPTON, Indiana – Barack Obama, vying for support from Hoosiers before Indiana’s Tuesday primary, reconnected with his roots in the state with a visit to a farmhouse owned by his family for generations.
The white Victorian home in rural Kempton sits on land owned by Obama’s fourth great-grandfather, who passed it down several generations within the family of Obama’s mother, Ann Dunham. Ann Dunham was from Kansas but she later moved to Hawaii, where Obama was raised.
The Kempton farmhouse was built by William Riley Dunham, a great uncle of Obama. After the Dunham family gave it up, it was used at one stage as a funeral home and was recently purchased by Sean Clements, who plans to spruce it.
As part of an effort to show a folksier side of the Illinois senator, the campaign planned the visit to the house as an outdoor potluck dinner with Clements and his family and friends.
But the weather didn’t cooperate. It was chilly with big gusts of wind that toppled the foldup tables set up in the back yard. So the tables had to be taken down and the dinner was scrapped in favor of a walk-around tour by Obama, his wife, Michelle, and their two daughters, Sasha, 6, and Malia, 9.
But there were no shortages of other opportunities to show the “regular guy” side of Obama, who has said he is determined to counter efforts by his opponents to portray him and his wife as “elitist, pointy-headed intellectual types.”
The Obamas visited a picnic gathering in Noblesville at lunchtime. In the evening, they stopped by a roller-skating rink for an “ice cream social” with supporters. Obama did not skate, though his daughters did.