Tales from the Trail

Obama says housing help just for ‘responsible’ homeowners

MESA, Ariz. – Memo to U.S. homeowners who bought places they couldn’t really afford: don’t expect assistance from President Barack Obama.  
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 Obama unveiled a housing plan on Wednesday that aims to stem home foreclosures and draw a line under a problem that sparked the nation’s financial crisis. 

But the assistance the president outlined had a caveat – only “responsible” homeowners need apply. 

 ”I want to be very clear about what this plan will not do: It will not rescue the unscrupulous or irresponsible by throwing good taxpayer money after bad loans,” Obama told an excited crowd in Arizona, the home of his former presidential rival, Republican John McCain, and a state that has been especially hard hit by the housing crisis. 

 ”It will not help speculators who took risky bets on a rising market and bought homes not to live in but to sell,” he continued. 

Obama, Bill Clinton discuss 9/11, campaign, world affairs

obamaclinton.jpgNEW 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.

In a joint statement, the two men said they had a “great conversation” during their meeting, which came on the seventh anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

“They discussed the campaign briefly but mostly talked about how the world has changed since September 11, 2001,” the statement said. “They also spoke about what the next president can do to help make the economy work for all Americans, as it did under President Clinton, and ensure safety and prosperity far beyond the coming the election.”

Obama agrees to 3 debates with McCain

baracl.jpgORLANDO, 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.

Click here for more Reuters 2008 campaign coverage

Photo credit: Reuters/Scott Audette (Obama laughs alongside Marc Morial, president and CEO of the National Urban League in Orlando, Florida, on Aug. 2, 2008)

McCain praises Pawlenty, Jindal as VP talk sizzles

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.
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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.

Can’t you say anything positive about Pawlenty, a reporter prodded.
 
“Oh, Tim … He’s a great, fine person,” McCain said.
“I think he is, he, Bobby Jindal and a number of governors, I think are the future of the Republican Party.”

But Jindal told Fox News on Wednesday he wasn’t interested in being vice president.

McCain says Bush should not be impeached

DENVER – Republican presidential candidate John McCain may be distancing himself from George W. Bush, but the Arizona senator rtx68cn.jpgdoes not believe his would-be predecessor should be impeached.

Pressed about the issue by a young voter at a lively question and answer session in Colorado Monday, McCain, who voted “guilty” in Democratic President Bill Clinton’s impeachment trial, said he did not believe Bush should be removed from office.

“I do not believe that an effort to impeach the president of the United States is appropriate or necessary or called for,” McCain said.

McCain heckled by Iraq war protesters

DENVER – Republican John McCain tried Tuesday to convince voters a McCain presidency would not amount to four more rtx67yl.jpgyears of President George W. Bush, but he ran smack into hecklers bent on tying him to Bush’s unpopular war in Iraq.

“America must be a good citizen of the world, leading the way to address the danger of global warming and preserve our environment, strengthening existing international institutions and helping to build new ones,” McCain told an audience at the University of Denver.
 
The Arizona senator had barely uttered those words, charting a course away from Bush, when he was interrupted by hecklers chanting “Endless War! Endless War!”

The hecklers were shouted down by a larger crowd chanting “John McCain! John McCain!”
 
McCain no sooner started his speech again — announcing he would seek to reduce global nuclear stockpiles — when he was interrupted once more by anti-war protesters.
 
“What about Iraq? What about Iraq?” one shouted. Another unfurled a banner that said, “Iraq vets against the war.”
 
When the larger crowd shouted down the protesters again, McCain quipped, “This may turn into a longer speech than you had anticipated.”
 
“And by the way, I will never surrender in Iraq, my friends. I will never surrender in rtx67zi.jpgIraq,” he added emphatically to applause and laughter. “Our American troops will come home with victory and with honor.”

Is McCain’s age an issue? Only if voters want to make it one

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.
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“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.”

Click here for more Reuters 2008 campaign coverage.

Photo credit: Reuters/Chris Keane (McCain speaks at a campaign event in Charlotte, N.C., May 5, 2008)