Tales from the Trail

Clinton open to coffee with Palin

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is open to having coffee with former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, whose new book about the 2008 presidential campaign is stirring controversy.

“I absolutely would look forward to having coffee,” Clinton said from Singapore  Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

Clinton told ABC’s “This Week” that she would look forward to having a chance to actually get to meet Palin.

Palin, the 2008 Republican vice presidential candidate, gives a nod to Clinton in her book, “Going Rogue: An American Life.” Clinton lost the race for the Democratic presidential nomination to Barack Obama.

Palin, a popular conservative firebrand who has been communicating mostly via Facebook since quitting as governor, opens a campaign-style book tour on Tuesday that will hit a dozen states.

Obama: “Skinny but tough”

obamatoughPresident Barack Obama had a message for his political friends and foes on Monday — “just because I’m skinny doesn’t mean I’m not tough.”

After weeks in which he has been angrily criticized by some on the right, to the point of creating a poster image of him with a Hitler mustache, Obama told a Democratic fund-raising event in Miami that some of his supporters have been expressing concern to him.

“I’ve tried to explain … just because I’m skinny doesn’t mean I’m not tough. I don’t rattle. I’m not going to shrink back, because now is the time for us to continue to push and follow through on those things that we know have to be done but have not been done in decades,” he said.

Palin: Ready to shake things up in New York

Sarah Palin on Thursday endorsed Conservative Party candidate Doug Hoffman over Republican Party choice Dede Scozzafava in a special congressional election in upstate New York that has the GOP divided.

sarah

“I am very pleased to announce my support for Doug Hoffman in his fight to be the next representative from New York’s 23rd Congressional district. It’s my honor to endorse Doug and to do what I can to help him win,” Palin said in a statement posted on Facebook.

“The people of the 23rd Congressional District of New York are ready to shake things up, and Doug Hoffman is coming on strong as Election Day approaches!” she added.

DeLay’s Last Dance

Former Congressman Tom DeLay, aka “The Hammer,” hung up his dancing shoes on Tuesday, but we may not have seen the last of his smooth moves.

CONGRESS DELAYThe Texas Republican scored low in the polling, but still got enough votes to remain in the running in ABC’s “Dancing With The Stars.”

DeLay lived up to his nickname during his years as the tough Republican majority leader in the House of Representatives. But he could not hang tough with two sore feet, so he bowed out of the dance competition.

What a difference a year makes

USA/A year ago, Senator Arlen Specter was on the campaign trail in Pennsylvania — appearing for a fellow Republican senator,  John McCain, who was in an intense race for the presidency against a Democratic senator, Barack Obama. The two presidential candidates both spent a great deal of time in the swing state, which ended up going Democratic in the November election.

A year later, Specter is busy on the campaign trail again in another tough Philadelphia political battle, his own bid for reelection. But this time, the former moderate Republican is a Democrat. And he wielded the Democrats’ most formidable election weapon at an evening of fundraising on Tuesday — President Barack Obama.

Specter left the Republican party earlier this year, helping to strengthen the Democratic majority in Congress. To thank the 79-year-old, Obama had said he would stand by Specter even in a primary fight to be nominated as the Democratic candidate to retain his Senate seat in 2010.

No lie! Poll shows Joe Wilson trailing in reelection bid

USA-HEALTHCARE/OBAMACongressman Joe Wilson might be tempted to yell “You lie!” again – this time at a poll that shows the presidential heckler trailing in his reelection bid.

The survey by Public Policy Polling found Democratic challenger Rob Miller leading the five-term Republican lawmaker by 44 percent to 43 percent. The numbers had Democrats cheering, and at least one pollster offering a new view of the contest in the heavily Republican South Carolina district.

 It is all part of the fallout of Wilson yelling “You lie!” at President Barack Obama during his address to Congress on Wednesday night on healthcare reform.

Nobody pulling the plug on grandma, key Republican says

USA-COURT/SOTOMAYORHe warned that the U.S. government must not be in a position to “pull the plug on grandma.”But Senator Charles Grassley, a leading Republican who could be key to President Barack Obama’s hopes of overhauling healthcare, acknowledged on Sunday that so-called “death panels” weren’t really a possibility anyway.Grassley, the leading Republican in the Senate Finance Committee, told CBS’s “Face the Nation” that his well-publicized comment about pulling the plug was only meant to convey the fears of voters.“It won’t do that. But I wanted to explain why my constituents are concerned about it,” Grassley said.He was quoted saying earlier this month that “You have every right to fear. You shouldn’t have counseling at the end of life, you should have done that 20 years before. Should not have a government run plan to decide when to pull the plug on grandma.”He struggled a bit when asked to explain why he made the comments in the first place: “I said that because — two reasons. Number one, I was responding to a question at my town meetings. I let my constituents set the agenda. A person that asked me that question was reading from language that they got off of the Internet. It scared my constituents…”Obama expressed outrage on Saturday about persistent rumors about the government-run “death panels” — an issue most notably raised by former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, who was the Republican vice presidential nominee last year.“As every credible person who has looked into it has said, there are no so-called ‘death panels’ — an offensive notion to me and to the American people,” Obama said. “These are phony claims meant to divide us.”The issue stems from a provision in a House of Representatives bill that would have provided government funding for optional counseling on end-of-life care issues such as hospice.Obama’s healthcare plan has been hit from both sides, with liberal members of his own party pushing for major changes while Republicans and conservative Democrats fret about cost and government involvement. The debate likely will intensify next month when Congress returns from its summer recess.Do you think Grassley’s acknowledgement will help end the debate over death panels?

Governor Sanford’s walk in the woods

When Governor Mark Sanford walks out of the woods tomorrow, he’s sure for a big surprise.

The governor of South Carolina went hiking on the Appalachian Trail last Thursday to clear his head after a tough legislative session, according to his aides. Nothing odd in that – politicians need time off as much as anyone. Trouble is, when Sanford left he didn’t tell his aides where he was going. He didn’t tell the state’s lieutenant governor either. Or his wife.

rtxbyi6

His disappearance sparked speculation about his whereabouts, although Fox News reported he did call to check in two days into the trip. Tomorrow he is due to emerge from the trail and return to work and he will doubtless face many questions. For a possible presidential candidate in 2012, the distraction could prove awkward.

Specter gains chairmanship, loses potential foe

Senator Arlen Specter, who has had some rocky times since switching from the Republican to Democratic party last week, had a really good day on Thursday.

Specter gained some power — the chairmanship of a Senate subcommittee — and lost a potential and powerful reelection foe, former Pennsylvania Governor Tom Ridge.specter

“After careful consideration and many conversations with friends and family and the leadership of my party, I have decided not to seek the Republican nomination for Senate,” Ridge said in a statement.

Specter: Republican Sr becomes Democrat Jr

SENATE/CLINTON/GATES

A week after switching parties, former Republican-turned-Democratic U.S. Senator Arlen Specter has suffered the political equivalent of a kick in the pants.

The action — stripping him of Senate seniority — isn’t expected to change the outcome of any pending legislation. But it puts Specter on notice he must earn his Democratic stripes.

The figurative boot in the butt was administered on late Tuesday by Senate Democrats, who have been irritated by many of Specter’s initial moves as a member of their party.