Tales from the Trail
NEW YORK – Barack Obama and Bill Clinton talked over lunch on Thursday about the economy and world affairs in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks and what the former president can do to help the Democratic nominee defeat Republican John McCain in the Nov. 4 election.
ORLANDO, Fla. – Democrat Barack Obama agreed on Saturday to a formal proposal for three presidential debates and one vice presidential debate, effectively scuttling Republican White House rival John McCain’s hopes for a series of one-on-one town hall meetings.
Obama campaign manager David Plouffe informed the Commission on Presidential Debates of the decision, which proposed the schedule, in a letter. Illinois Rep. Rahm Emanuel will represent the campaign in talks on the format and details.
The late conventions and short period before the first debate — the Republican convention ends on Sept. 4 and the first debate is scheduled for Sept. 26 — made it “likely” the four debates proposed by the commission “will be the sole series of debates in the fall campaign,” Plouffe wrote.
McCain had suggested the two candidates could appear together at a series of town-hall meetings, but negotiations between the two sides never produced an agreement.
The McCain campaign used the decision to take another poke at Obama’s “celebrity” image.
“We understand it might be beneath a worldwide celebrity of Barack Obama’s magnitude to appear at town hall meetings alongside John McCain and directly answer questions from the American people, but we hope he’ll reconsider,” spokesman Brian Rogers said.
BETHLEHEM, Pa. – And the speculation continues.
Republican John McCain praised two potential vice presidential picks on Wednesday but gave no clues about who he would add to his ticket or when he would decide.
The Arizona senator’s campaign has not quashed speculation this week that a choice was imminent, but McCain said in a television interview that he has yet to decide who would be his number two.
Earlier at a stop at a grocery store, where the presumptive Republican presidential nominee got a look at the high price of milk and other staples, he spoke highly of two people said to be on his short list: Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal.
“We can’t mention any names, we have the process going on,” McCain started by saying.
JERSEY CITY, N.J. – Is Republican John McCain‘s age an issue? Only if the American public want to make it one, the senior Arizona senator told reporters on Friday.
“I don’t take offense to it … If that’s what the American people want to discuss, that’s fine,” said McCain, who turns 72 in August and would be the oldest first-term president ever.
“I will continue to introduce them to my 96-year-old mother and display the same vigor and energy that I have been able to display throughout this campaign which allowed me to win the nomination of my party.”
To that end, the campaign is launching a television commercial on Mother’s Day on Sunday, showing McCain with his still vigorous mother, Roberta.
The commercial, dubbed “Johnny’s Mom,” shows mother and son chatting about his birth at a U.S. Navy base in Panama, where his father served as an officer.
“I’m told that on the table were 27 bottles of scotch, all presents to Johnny,” she said.
The issue of the Arizona senator’s age is a sensitive one for the campaign.
It sparked a dust-up this week after Democratic rival Barack Obama suggested McCain had “lost his bearings” after commenting that Islamist Palestinian group Hamas favors Obama for president.
A McCain adviser accused Obama, 46, of trying to raise the Republican candidate’s age as an issue, a charge denied by Obama’s campaign.
McCain revisited the issue on Friday. Hamas’ apparent favor for Obama was also of interest to American voters, he said.
“I think that’s of interest to the American people and that is something that needs to be discussed — why his policies should meet the approval of a spokesperson for Hamas. I believe it’s a legitimate point of discussion.”