Tales from the Trail

Obama shares spotlight with Palin at Alfalfa Dinner

4WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama shared Washington’s high-society spotlight on Saturday night with an unlikely co-star — Alaska Governor Sarah Palin.
 
Wearing a black satin evening gown, Palin was spotted by journalists making her way into the ballroom at the Capitol Hilton for the Alfalfa Dinner, an annual closed-door roast of the city’s political and business elite.
 
Following in the footsteps of White House predecessors, Obama served as headline speaker at the light-hearted black-tie affair, which in accordance with a 96-year tradition bars reporters.
 
So it was not known whether the president had any choice words from the podium for Palin, who as Republican vice presidential nominee in the 2008 election rarely missed a chance to lash into Obama.
 
But, according to a few of Obama’s joke excerpts released by the White House, he had a few zingers for his hard-driving chief of state, Rahm Emanuel, who has a reputation for sometimes harsh language.
 
“It was actually Rahm’s idea to do the swearing-in ceremony again,” he said. “Of course, for Rahm, every day is a swearing-in ceremony.”
 
“Rahm Emanuel is a real sweetheart,” Obama added. “Every week the guy takes a little time away to give back to the community. Just last week he was at a local school, teaching profanity to poor children.”
 
Of his battle to guard part of his pre-White House lifestyle after his Jan. 20 inauguration, he said, “In just the first few weeks, I’ve had to engage in some of the toughest diplomacy of my life. And that was just to keep my Blackberry.”
 
And Obama, the first black U.S. president, also poked fun at the Alfalfa Club’s founding in 1913 by a group of Southern gentlemen.
 
“Many you are aware that this dinner began almost one hundred years ago as a way to celebrate the birthday of General Robert E. Lee. If he were here with us tonight, the general would be 202 years old. And very confused,” Obama said.

Photo credit: Reuters/Tami Chappell (Palin at a campaign rally for Senator Saxby Chambliss)

Sarah Palin starts a PAC

If you thought Sarah Palin was going to just fade away, you clearly weren’t listening when she said the only difference between a hockey mom and a pit bull was lipstick. 
 USA/SENATE-GEORGIA
The Alaska governor, who was the Republican nominee for vice president in the race that John McCain lost to Democrat Barack Obama last year, is already laying the groundwork for another run at something.
 
She has started her own political action committee, SarahPAC, complete with a website. And she’s learned a trick from Obama — the site’s main feature is a page where you can put down your name and donate $25 or $5,000 or more. 
 
“Welcome to SarahPAC, Sarah Palin’s official PAC,” the site says. “Dedicated to building America’s future, supporting fresh ideas and candidates who share our vision for reform and innovation.”
 
“SarahPAC believes the Republican Party is at the threshold of an historic renaissance that will build a better future for all,” the site says. “Health care, education and reform of government are among our key goals.”
 
The site’s home page shows Palin against a backdrop of Alaska’s sweeping mountain vistas.
 
While declaring it is not authorized by any candidate or candidate’s committee, SarahPAC has a full biography of the former vice presidential candidate.
 
It notes she made history by becoming the first woman governor of Alaska and the first woman on a Republican presidential ticket.
 
“Gov. Palin has a long record of achievement and experience in public office,” it says, including her service as governor, her time as mayor of the town of Wasilla and her stint on the Wasilla City Council.

For more Reuters political news, click here.
 
Photo credit: Reuters/Tami Chappell (Palin campaigns for Senator Saxby Chambliss in Georgia in December)

Palin says she was “exploited” by Fey, Couric

USA-POLITICS/FEY

Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin says TV doppelganger Tina Fey and CBS News anchor Katie Couric have her to thank for the career boost they are getting.

In fact, the 2008 Republican vice presidential nominee says, the pair of TV stars exploited her.

Fey, who has an uncanny resemblance to Palin, played a loopy version of the Alaska governor in “Saturday Night Live” skits on NBC during the campaign season.

It’s official – Obama is the next U.S. president

It’s official. Barack Obama will be the next president of the United States.

USA/The Senate and House of Representatives just concluded a joint session in which the electoral college vote results of the Nov. 4 election were counted and certified with great fanfare.

Vice President Dick Cheney, who serves as president of the Senate, presided over the meeting and read the official results – Obama of Illinois received 365 of the 538 electoral votes for president and Sen. John McCain of Arizona received 173.  Sen. Joe Biden of Delaware received 365 electoral votes for the office of vice president while Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska received 173 votes, Cheney said. USA/

Palin open to idea of Senate run

WASHINGTON – In yet another television interview, former Republican vice presidential hopeful Sarah Palin revealed on Wednesday that while she was focused on her job as Alaska’s governor she was open to the idea of a Senate bid.

While at first saying it was “not necessarily” the kind of post she would like some day, she was open to the idea.

“I’m not going to close any doors that perhaps would be in front of me and would allow me to put to good use executive experience and a world view that I think is good for our nation,” she said in an interview with CNN’s “Larry King Live.” “I’m not going to close any door there in terms of opportunity that may be there in the future.”

The First Draft

President Bush tends to ceremonial duties Wednesday while the White House ramps up preparations for the G20 summit this weekend. The G20, which groups industrialized and rapidly developing economies, will be discussing moves to tackle the global financial crisis.

The House Financial Services Committee is looking into the mortgage crisis. It has a hearing on whether banks and other lenders are doing enough help people in jeopardy of losing their houses by changing the terms of mortgages.

The Supreme Court is hearing arguments on whether a religious group must be allowed to put its monument in a city park near a similar Ten Commandments display.

The First Draft

Today is Veterans Day, a government holiday. President Bush will give a Veterans Day address at the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum in New York.
 
Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, will participate in a wreath-laying ceremony at Arlington Cemetery.
 
President-elect Barack Obama‘s visit with Bush at the White House on Monday dominated the morning news shows, along with interviews from Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin.
 
Obama pressed Bush to help the struggling auto industry, The New York Times reported. It says Bush indicated he might support some aid if Democrats accepted the free-trade deal with Colombia.
 
Palin told Fox news and others she wanted to do more media interviews during her turn as Republican John McCain’s vice presidential running mate during the recent election. And she isn’t ruling out another run for high office.
 
“If there is an open door in ’12 or four years later and if it is something that is going to be good for my family, my state, my nation, an opportunity for me, then I’ll plow through that door, but I can’t predict what’s going to happen,” she said.
 
Economic woes dominate other big U.S. newspapers. The Washington Post says Fannie Mae and AIG are still struggling despite their federal takeover.
 
The Wall Street Journal leads with strains mounting on the federal financial bailout. Fannie Mae may need another cash infusion, it says, and American Express has won quick approval from the Federal Reserve to become a bank holding company, which makes it eligible for cash from the Treasury.
 
U.S. stock futures are down Tuesday morning, pointing to another drop on Wall Street following a slide in Asia and Europe earlier in the day.

For more Reuters political coverage, click here.

Palin charts future of interviews, governors’ shindig

WASHINGTON – Is Sarah Palin going through a catharsis, some sort of political rehabilitation or is she now a permanent fixture on the national political scene?
 
The former Republican vice presidential hopeful returned home after the election to her job as Alaska governor where she promptly held a news conference and conducted several television interviews. She’s lined up for NBC’s “Today” show Tuesday.
 
In addition, later this week she will head to sunny Miami to attend the Republican Governors Association annual conference where she will again meet with reporters on Thursday.
 
She is to speak during a session entitled “Looking Toward the Future.”  That wouldn’t have anything to do with 2012 would it?  Nevermind that last week she avoided talking about her political future.

Also on the panel was another name that bubbled up for the 2008 Republican vice presidential nomination, Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, who is expected to be a national player as the Republican Party regroups after losing the White House.

Click here for more Reuters political coverage.

- Photo credit: Reuters/Rick Wilking (Palin on election night)

Can Ted Stevens thrust Palin back into the national spotlight?

ANCHORAGE – Gov. Sarah Palin has gone home to Alaska, but her return to the national political stage may come sooner than the 2012 U.S. presidential campaign.

If Republican Sen. Ted Stevens maintains his slim lead over Anchorage Mayor Mark Begich, it could once again thrust Palin into the spotlight. The 84-year-old Stevens could be re-elected for an eighth term despite being convicted of corruption last month. His conviction prompted calls for his resignation from Republican presidential candidate John McCain and Palin, his running mate. Stevens has vowed to fight on even though a convicted felon has never served in the U.S. Senate.

The conviction came a week before election day — too late to replace the longest-serving Republican on ballots in Alaska. If Stevens wins the election and then relinquishes his seat, that’s when things could get interesting.

Newsflash — Sarah Palin, wearing only a towel

WASHINGTON – Lots of news trickling in about Sarah Palin’s time on the campaign trail…

Like the time John McCain’s top aides Steve Schmidt and Mark Salter went to brief the fit 44-year-old Alaska governor in her hotel room at the Republican National Convention in St. Paul.

Here’s how Newsweek described it:  “After a minute, Palin sailed into the room wearing nothing but a towel, with another on her wet hair. She told them to chat with her laconic husband, Todd. ‘I’ll be just a minute,’ she said.”