Tales from the Trail

Missouri voter sues over McCain campaign “hate speech”

(UPDATED – adds McCain spokesman comment)

KANSAS CITY – Missouri voter Mary Kay Green has had enough.

The supporter of Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama filed a lawsuit this week over what she claims is dangerous “hate speech” coming from the rival campaign of Republican presidential nominee John McCain.

rtx9mpk.jpgGreen, a 66-year-old grandmother and “semi-retired” civil rights attorney, filed the lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Kansas City this week accusing McCain, his running mate Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and their campaign manager Rick Davis of “intentionally, recklessly and irresponsibly” portraying Obama “as un-American, a terrorist by association,   and ‘not like us,’ a non-white individual.”

Palin, Green alleges in her lawsuit, has at her rallies used false statements to work supporters “into a frenzy causing them to make death threats” against Obama.

The lawsuit claims that Green “suffers terror of the heart, anxiety and grave fear for the life of Presidential candidate and U.S. Senator Barack Obama” because of the McCain campaign’s efforts to invoke hatred against Obama.

A McCain spokesman said the charges were without merit.

“It’s a great country — anyone can file a lawsuit anytime on any matter, whether it has merit or not,” said McCain spokesman Brian Rogers. “As Sen. McCain explained in detail in last night’s debate, charges like this have no merit. He will compare his record of setting the record straight to any of his overzealous or inappropriate supporters against Sen. Obama’s any day.”

Obama, McCain take on each other’s VP picks at debate

HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. – They weren’t part of the debate, but vice presidential candidates Sarah Palin and Joe Biden did get some time in the spotlight on Wednesday.
 
At their final debate before the November 4 election, Democrat Barack Obama and Republican John McCain were each asked to rate the other’s vice presidential pick.
 
vps.jpgObama, when asked whether Palin, the governor of Alaska, was qualified to be president, demurred.
 
“You know, I think it’s — that’s going to be up to the American people,” the Illinois senator said. “I think that, obviously, she’s a capable politician who has, I think, excited the — a base in the Republican Party.”
 
Notice he did not mention her level of experience. 
 
McCain, when asked about Biden, said he disagreed with his Senate colleague but declared him qualified to be in the White House. “I think that Joe Biden is qualified in many respects. But I do point out that he’s been wrong on many foreign policy and national security issues, which is supposed to be his strength,” McCain said.
 
“In Iraq, he had this cockamamie idea about dividing Iraq into three countries,” the Arizona senator continued. “There are several issues in which, frankly, Joe Biden and I open and honestly disagreed on national security policy, and he’s been wrong on a number of the major ones.”

Click here for more Reuters 2008 campaign coverage

Photo credit: REUTERS/Jim Young

Tina Fey leaving Earth if Palin wins

WASHINGTON – Comedian Tina Fey says she’s checking out if her spitting image twin, Republican vice-presidential hopeful Sarah Palin, and White House contender John McCain win the general election next month.

Fey said she has loved playing Palin in the Saturday Night Live skits so far, especially with Amy Poehler who played Sen. Hillary Clinton in one and CBS News anchor Katie Couric in another.rtx8stl.jpg

“That lady is a media star.  She is a fascinating person, she’s very likeable.  She’s fun to play, and the two bits with Amy, that was super fun,” Fey told TV Guide. 

McCain stunned by Rep. Lewis comments on campaign

rtx9ib0.jpgWASHINGTON – Republican presidential hopeful John McCain had previously made it clear he was a big admirer of civil rights leader Rep. John Lewis — but now not so much.

Lewis, a Georgia Democrat, said late last week that he was disturbed by the negative tone of the Republican’s campaign, accusing McCain and his running mate Sarah Palin of “sowing the seeds of hatred and division” and that it reminded him of the segregationist era of Alabama Gov. George Wallace.

The lawmaker later clarified his remarks, saying he did not compare the two to Wallace and that his purpose was to remind candidates that “toxic language can lead to destructive behavior.”

Clinton: Not just any woman will do for the White House

palin-vertical.jpghillary-vertical.jpgCracked. Shattered. Whatever. Forget the glass ceiling, policy trumps gender in the race for the White House as far as Hillary Clinton is concerned.

“Of course it’s exciting to have a woman on the ticket,” Clinton said in a CNN interview when asked about the vice presidential candidacy of Republican Sarah Palin.

“But that in and of itself is not enough reason … and really no one will shatter that ceiling until we have a woman serving as president or vice president,” she said in the interview broadcast on Tuesday.

Ohio governor tells gun owners not to fear Obama

CHILLICOTHE, Ohio – Gov. Ted Strickland on Friday sought to allay concerns of gun owners in his state who fear Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama would push for greater restrictions on firearms.
 
“There is probably no governor, I would say, in the United States of America, who has a stronger, better record in the support of the Second Amendment than does Governor Ted Strickland and I’m proud of that,” Strickland told a rally in Chillicothe as he warmed up the crowd ahead of a speech by Obama.
 
Strickland, whose battleground state is a focus of intensive campaigning by Obama and Republican John McCain, said he spoke directly to Obama about the right to bear arms in the Second Amendment.
 gunsguns.jpg
“If you are a sportsman, if you are a gun owner, if you are someone that honors and respects the Second Amendment, you have nothing to fear from Barack Obama,” the Democratic governor said at a rally in the rural southern part of his state.
 
In June, after the Supreme Court struck down a strict gun control law in Washington, Obama said he supports the Second Amendment protection.
 
But he also added that he identifies with some living in inner cities who seek “common sense, effective safety measures” to try reduce gun violence in crime-ravaged communities.
 
In April, Obama’s comments to a closed-door fund-raiser in San Francisco saying small town voters would “cling” to their guns and religion because they were “bitter” over their economic conditions caused a storm of criticism.
 
McCain endeared himself to Americans in favor of the right to bear arms by picking Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, who enjoys hunting and who, according to former Tennessee Republican Sen. Fred Thompson, knows how to “field-dress a moose.”
 
Palin might differ with Strickland on which governor is a bigger champion of the Second Amendment. 

Click here for more Reuters 2008 campaign coverage.

- Photo credit: Reuters/Jessica Rinaldi (Guns are seen inside a display case at the Cabela’s store in Fort Worth, Texas June 26, 2008)
   

Trying to shore up base, Cindy McCain goes to North Carolina

rtx8sbh.jpgWith polls showing that Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama has a shot at winning North Carolina, Republican rival John McCain is sending his wife Cindy to the state on Saturday to shore up what has traditionally been a stronghold for conservatives.

Obama has made inroads in North Carolina and made the city of Asheville his spot for preparing for the debate held this week. Plus, two out of three polls released this week have shown the Democrat ahead by as many as five points while the third poll showed McCain ahead by 3 points.

Cindy McCain, who has been taking a more prominent role in the campaign in recent days, will serve as the Grand Marshal at the NASCAR Bank of America 500 race on Saturday in Concord, North Carolina, the Republican’s campaign said. 

Palin camp limits media from her own supporters

CLEARWATER, Fla. – Political rallies are usually ideal for reporters to chat with party activists, but the campaign of Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin took an unusual step by appearing to limit access to her supporters.

clearwater-rally.jpgAt Monday’s rally in the battleground state of Florida, reporters were barred from wandering around the area where the Alaska governor’s supporters had gathered. 

About 20 seconds into an interview I attempted with Brent McDonald, 52, I was stopped by a Palin campaign worker in mid-sentence. “The press is not allowed out here,” she said. 

Biden ready to return to campaign, come out swinging

WILMINGTON, Del. – Expect Joe Biden to come out swinging Wednesday when the Democratic vice presidential nominee resumes his campaign after a five-day break to attend family matters.
 
rtx95to.jpgBiden goes to Florida where he’s ready again to hit Republican presidential nominee John McCain on the top issue among voters, the ailing economy.
 
He’s also expected to rip into McCain for increased attacks in recent days on Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama.
 
With a month to go before Election Day, candidates normally accelerate their campaign schedules. But with his son heading off to the Iraq war and mother-in-law dying after a long illness, Biden grounded his campaign to be at home with family.
 
He’s been in Delaware since the morning after his debate last Thursday in St. Louis with Republican rival Sarah Palin.
 
Both Biden and Palin gave what were widely seen as strong performances.
 
Biden told Newsweek magazine the next day — in an interview at a coffee shop near his home in Wilmington — that he was happy with the debate, that he liked Palin but that doesn’t believe their showdown will have much impact.
 
“The real issue is John and Barack,” Biden said.
 
Biden planned to watch Tuesday night’s Obama-McCain debate at home with family, an aide said.

Click here for more Reuters 2008 campaign coverage.

Photo credit: Reuters/Carlos Barria (Joe Biden during vice presidential debate Oct. 2)

Slingin’ mud, campaigns get down and dirty

Up until now, the mud slinging in the presidential race has mostly been the Republican John McCain and Democrat Barack Obama accusing the other of lying about each other’s record and views on health care, taxes and the Iraq war.
 
Now, with less than a month to go until voters go to the polls, the McCain campaign has sent out on the attack his vice presidential running-mate Sarah Palin where she is slinging some serious dirt, accusing Obama of “palling around with terrorists.”

She was referring to William Ayers, a former member of the Vietnam War-era militant group the Weather Underground. Obama met him decades later in the 1990s when he first began his political career in Chicago and the two served on an education board together.

Two days later, she adjusted her language slightly in Florida, not repeating the line about “palling around with terrorists” but saying Obama was “someone who sees America as imperfect enough to work with a former domestic terrorist who had targeted his own country.”