Tales from the Trail

Republican northern light sparks up Southern town

Sarah Palin remains the hottest Republican ticket if the crowds and enthusiasm at her book signings are anything to go by.

On Friday she brought her “Going Rogue” book tour to Plano, an affluent town just north of Dallas that is in deeply red Republican country. About 1,500 people lined up for hours in the winter cold to wait for Palin’s bus. A lucky 1,000 among them had advance tickets to get their copy of her new autobiography signed.

USA-POLITICS/PALIN

The former Alaska governor and 2008 Republican vice presidential nominee clearly remains the northern light of the Republican Party that can spark up its Southern and conservative base. She now reigns almost unchallenged with this base after the apparent downfall of former Arkansas governor and Republican White House hopeful Mike Huckabee.

His political future was dealt a blow this week by the revelation that he had once pardoned the man who killed four police officers in Washington state on Sunday.

“I hope she makes a run for president, I wouldn’t hesitate to vote for her,” said Steve Yurasits, a 59-year-old school bus driver, expressing a sentiment shared by many in the crowd.

Sarah Palin to visit Washington next month

Look out Washington, Sarah Palin is coming.

Palin will be the Republican speaker at the annual winter dinner of the Gridiron Club of journalists in Washington on Dec. 5.
PALIN/

“The governor is very excited and was honored to accept the invitation,” said her spokeswoman, Meghan Stapleton.

The former Alaska governor, who rose to fame as John McCain’s vice presidential nominee last year, is about to go on a book tour to promote her memoir, “Going Rogue: An American Life.”

Virginia shakes off Obama blue, returns to red roots

Pundits always use sports analogies for politics, we’re thinking of trying something different — a hair color analogy.

Virginia returned to its red roots tonight after an impetuous experiment last year with blue, the state’s political color of a generation ago. MONACO/

OK maybe it doesn’t work as well. To put it more simply, the Republicans won the governor’s race in Virginia. That was in contrast to last year when Barack Obama captured the state which voted Democrat in a presidential election for the first time since 1964.

The First Draft: Palin goes fishing for cameras, Obama talks too

After catching the national media off guard with Friday’s pre-holiday weekend bombshell that she was resigning as Alaska governor, Sarah Palin gave the television networks a chance to catch up with a round of stage-managed interviews for the morning news shows.

Television correspondents lined up to land a few minutes with Palin, decked out in overalls and wading in the surf at husband Todd’s family fishing operation. With children in tow on the fishing trip/photo op, she explained her decision to bail out of office more than a year early.

USA/SENATE-GEORGIAIt had nothing to do with running for president in 2012, she said. She’s just unconventional. Once she had decided she was not running for re-election, she knew she could not “play the political game that most politicians do,” she told NBC.

The First Draft: Haley’s comet

USA/South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford hurt many people when he spent the last weekend “crying in Argentina,” as he put it at a press conference yesterday.

There’s his family, of course, and his Republican Party, where he had emerged as a rising star.

But there is opportunity in every crisis, as Rahm Emanuel likes to say, and one man stands to benefit from Sanford’s downfall: Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour.

from FaithWorld:

Gallup first: more Americans now “pro-life” than “pro-choice”

America may have a president and Congress that support abortion rights, but a new Gallup poll suggests that for the first time such a stance is not the majority view.

USA/

Gallup said on Friday that a new poll, conducted May 7 to 10, found "51 percent of Americans calling themselves 'pro-life' on the issue of abortion and 42 percent 'pro-choice.' This is the first time a majority of U.S. adults have identified themselves as pro-life since Gallup began asking this question in 1995."

"The new results, obtained from Gallup's annual Values and Beliefs survey, represent a significant shift from a year ago, when 50 percent were pro-choice and 44 percent pro-life. Prior to now, the highest percentage identifying as pro-life was 46 percent, in both August 2001 and May 2002."

The First Draft: Now he’s talking!

CHENEY/Dan Quayle played golf in Arizona. Al Gore taught journalism in New York. But Dick Cheney is breaking with the tradition that former vice presidents quietly leave Washington and the public eye when they exit the White House. Even Cheney’s ex-boss, George W. Bush, has refrained from criticizing the Obama administration, saying the new team deserves his silence. But Cheney was positively gabby on a Sunday talk show.

While many in official Washington were recovering from Saturday evening’s White House Correspondents Association dinner — where President Barack Obama got off some memorable one-liners and comedian Wanda Sykes took aim at radio talk jock Rush Limbaugh, among others — Cheney gave a lengthy interview to “Face the Nation” on CBS television. The replay of clips from that chat were still reverberating on Monday’s morning shows on CNN, NBC and ABC.

On waterboarding terror suspects, which critics say doesn’t work in getting useful information — aside from it being torture — Cheney disagreed. “Khalid Shaikh Mohammed … an evil, evil man that’s been in our custody since March of ’03 … did not cooperate fully in terms of interrogations until after waterboarding. Once we went through that process, he produced vast quantities of invaluable information about Al Qaeda.”

Poll shows Americans trust Obama, Democrats

WASHINGTON – OBAMA/U.S. President Barack Obama has yet to turn around the troubled U.S. economy, but American voters have confidence in his efforts and see him headed in the right direction.

Those are among the findings of a survey released on Tuesday that also showed Americans have greater confidence in Obama’s fellow Democrats than they do in rival Republicans.
 
The survey, however, had some troublesome numbers for the Democrats’ third-highest ranking elected official — House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
 
Just 26 percent of respondents said they had a “great deal” or “some” trust in the California Democrat, who stands second in the line of succession to Obama, behind only Vice President Joe Biden.
 
The poll found that more respondents, 38 percent and 28 percent, respectively, had such a level of trust in Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, the failed 2008 Republican vice presidential nominee, and conservative radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh, respectively.
 
The Public Strategies Inc./POLITICO nationwide survey of 1,000 registered voters was conducted March 27-31 and had a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percent.
 
The poll found that 66 percent of respondents said they have a “great deal” or “some” trust in Obama, who has battled Republicans as well as some Democrats in the U.S. Congress, largely over fiscal policy, since taking office on January 20.
 
The survey found that 52 percent of respondents have a “great deal” or “some” trust in Democrats, while just 40 percent have such a level of confidence in Republicans, who vigorously opposed Obama’s $787 billion economic stimulus package and $3.5 trillion budget plan.
 
The survey found with Obama at the helm, 54 percent of respondents said they believe that the U.S. government is headed in the right direction, up from 35 percent in December before the new president took office.
 
Obama, in a speech on Tuesday in Washington, said there were signs of economic recovery but cautioned “by no means are we out of the woods just yet.”

For more Reuters political news, click here.

Photo credit: Reuters/Larry Downing – U.S. President Barack Obama speaks about the economy at Gaston Hall at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. on April 14, 2009.

Obama wins bipartisan support in often divided U.S. House

WASHINGTON – Democratic President Barack Obama finally won broad bipartisan support on Wednesday in the often bitterly divided U.S. House of Representatives. All it took was a call for Americans to help each other — and the memory of Sept. 11.
 
On a 321-105 vote, the House passed and sent on to the Senate an Obama-backed bill that seeks to expand volunteerism.
 
The proposed GIVE Act — Generations Invigorating Volunteerism and Education — would also urge Americans to recognize Sept. 11 as a national day of service as well as remembrance.obama-speech
 
“Establishing 9/11 as a national day of service would ensure that the lives of those lost are forever remembered,” said David Paine of MyGoodDeed.org, a nonprofit created by family members of 9/11 victims.
 
House Republicans have opposed a number of the president’s initiatives including his $787 billion stimulus package, but many rallied in support of this one.
 
The measure comes in response to Obama’s call to Congress last month to pass a bill that will provide Americans with more chances to serve their communities.
 
The House-passed bill would create volunteer opportunities for Americans ranging from school children and retirees to military veterans.
 
“President Obama has renewed the spirit of a practice in our country that is as old as the union itself — the call to public service,” said Democratic Representative Carolyn McCarthy, sponsor of the bill.

Click here for more Reuters political coverage.

- Photo credit: Reuters/Jonathan Ernst (Obama gives his primetime address to a joint session of the Senate and House of Representatives in February)

$787 billion can’t buy an ounce of bipartisanship

WASHINGTON – Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives were unapologetic on Friday after not a single one of them voted for the $787 billion economic stimulus package.
 
The Democratic majority pushed the spending and tax cuts measure through the House 246-183 at the urging of Democratic President Barack Obama, who had courted Republican support.
 
Republican leaders insisted the plan may do more harm than good by expanding government and not doing enough to creboehnerate private-sector jobs.
 
Representative Virginia Foxx went further. “I think it’s a cruel hoax on the American people that they have been led to believe that by passing this bill that there are suddenly going to be millions of jobs out there, particularly for blue collar workers that have lost their jobs,” she said.
 
Through weeks of debate, the two parties stuck to their ideologies, with Republicans favoring tax cuts and Democrats leaning toward government spending.
 
Republicans may be hoping their lock-step opposition will help vault them back into majority status in the House. They look longingly back to 1993, when every House Republican voted against a balanced-budget plan by then-President Bill Clinton that accomplished its goal.
 
Nonetheless, Republicans took control of the House in 1994 elections.
 
Asked whether Republicans risked looking bad if the U.S. economy does recover in the near term, House Republican Leader John Boehner said: “I think standing on principle and doing the right things for the right reasons on behalf of your constituents will never get you in trouble.”

For more Reuters political news, click here.

Photo credit: Reuters/Larry Downing (Boehner holds a copy of the stimulus bill, following the passage in the House of Representatives of the stimulus package)