Tales from the Trail

In slip up, Palin calls Afghanistan “our neighboring country”

SAN FRANCISCO – Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin called Afghanistan “our neighboring country” on Sunday in a speech that could revive questions over her tendency to stumble into linguistic knots.rtx95kp.jpg

Three days after a mostly gaffe-free debate performance, the Alaska governor fumbled during a speech in which she praised U.S. soldiers for “fighting terrorism and protecting us and our democratic values”.

“They are also building schools for the Afghan children so that there is hope and opportunity in our neighboring country of Afghanistan,” she told several hundred supporters at a fundraising event in San Francisco.

The gaffe could add fuel to comedians and late-night talk show hosts who have seized on her linguistic infelicities to portray her as someone not to be taken seriously.

Later in a speech in Omaha, Neb., Palin poked a little fun at herself when talking about one comedian in particular — actress Tina Fey whose dead-on impression of Palin’s looks, voice and body language has been a hit.

Palin for president? McCain mum on running for second term

rtx95q1.jpgDENVER – It’s a question that has dogged Republican John McCain since he became the Republican presidential nominee.

Would he run for a second term in office if he wins the White House in November?

The 72-year-old Arizona senator, who would be the oldest person to become president in U.S. history, isn’t saying.

Biden chokes up as he goes toe to toe with Palin on family challenges

Democratic vice presidential candidate Joe Biden went toe to toe with Republican rival Sarah Palin at their debate when talking about understanding the kitchen table issues families face, choking up when talking about the challenges they face.

When asked about his Achilles heel possibly being his lack of discipline, Biden turned the question around to talk about his “excessive passion”.

Palin has periodically talked about her challenges as a mother without health care coverage as well as raising a family of five, including her decision to have a child that would have down syndrome.

Veep debate includes zingers … and a few gaffes

The vice presidential contenders Joe Biden and Sarah Palin offered their share of zingers and even a couple gaffes during their one and only debate on Thursday in St. Louis.

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Biden tried to link the health care plan offered by Palin and presidential hopeful John McCain to Palin’s past support of a now-famous congressional earmark to fund a bridge to a small island that was labeled the “Bridge to Nowhere.”  

“So you’re going to have to place — replace a $12,000 plan with a $5,000 check you just give to the insurance company.  I call that the ‘Ultimate Bridge to Nowhere,’” Biden said.
 
Meanwhile, Palin corrected her rival about the offshore drilling for energy resources when Biden said “drill, drill drill.” 

VP debate starts with friendly greeting – “Can I call you Joe?”

rtx95r5.jpgWhile last week Republican hopeful John McCain did not call his opponent Barack Obama by his first name during a 90-minute debate, McCain’s running mate Sarah Palin wasted no time getting friendly with her opponent during the vice presidential debate on Thursday.

It came when she exchanged greetings with her opponent, Democrat Joe Biden, and they shook hands.

“Nice to meet you. Hey, can I call you Joe?” she said.

“Of course,” Biden replied with a smile. 

Click here for more Reuters 2008 campaign coverage

- Photo credit: Reuters/Rick Wilking (Biden and Palin meet for the first time at the vice presidential debate in St. Louis.)
 

Palin Bingo just in time for the Veep debate

WASHINGTON - This little item might be of interest to those tuning in to tonight’s vice-presidential debate.  To print out your own, click here.

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Musing with McCain: ‘If I were dictator…’

WASHINGTON – Sometimes it’s hard to tell when John McCain is joking.
 
Take his interview Tuesday with journalists at The Des Moines Register.
 
The Republican presidential candidate acknowledged the financial bailout measure before Congress was not perfect, but he said it was unacceptable to do nothing and admonished lawmakers for failing to pass a rescue plan.
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Then, without cracking a smile or missing a beat, he added this little nugget: “I’m not saying this is the perfect answer. If I were dictator, which I always aspire to be, I would write it … a little bit differently.”
 
With the Treasury secretary likely to have a huge amount of power under any bailout scheme, McCain was asked what sort of person he was looking for to fill that job. He said Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson had been doing admirably.
 
“I think a person along Paulson’s lines,” McCain said. Given the fragility of Wall Street, he added, any candidate “probably has to have a sound grounding in the financial markets and that aspect of America’s economy.”
 
The Arizona senator said if elected he would recruit the brightest and the best for his Cabinet, Democrat or Republican, in government or in business.
 
“I’ll go out and ask them to serve the country for a dollar a year,” he said.
 
He mused aloud about who might be enticed into government service: billionaire Iowa businessman Warren Buffett, eBay founder Meg Whitman, or Fed-Ex chief Fred Smith.
 

McCain strongly objected when a questioner suggested his running mate, Sarah Palin, was not as experienced as others he named as potential government servants.
 
“She’s been a mayor. She’s been an overseer of billions — I don’t know how many billions of dollars of natural resources. She’s been a member of the PTA (Parent Teacher Association). She’s been a governor,” McCain said.
 
He express skepticism when told many people, including now some conservative Republicans, questioned her level of experience.
 
“Really? I haven’t detected that,” he said.
 
“Now, if there’s a Georgetown cocktail party person who quote calls himself a conservative and doesn’t like her, good luck, good luck, fine,” McCain added.
 
“I think that the American people have overwhelmingly shown their approval. Are there people who will be detractors of her? That’s fine. That’s fine. That’s what politics is all about.”

Click here for more Reuters 2008 campaign coverage.

Photo credit: Reuters/Brian Snyder (McCain speaks at Truman Presidential Library  in Independence, Missouri, on Wednesday)

Palin talks abortion and newspapers — sort of — in Couric interview

palin30.jpgKANSAS CITY, Missouri – Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin is happy to discuss her views on social issues like abortion and homosexuality, but reluctant to list what she usually reads to keep up on world events.
 
That’s the takeout from a series of interviews the Alaska governor did with CBS anchor Katie Couric, which aired on Tuesday night.
 
Palin, whose opposition to abortion rights has ignited support among social conservatives, some of whom were wary of presidential nominee John McCain, discussed whether rape or incest victims should be allowed to have an abortion.
 
“Personally, I would counsel the person to choose life, despite horrific, horrific circumstances that this person would find themselves in,” she said. “If you’re asking, though, kind of foundationally here, should anyone end up in jail for having an … abortion, absolutely not.”
 
When asked about her views on homosexuality, Palin talked about a close friend who is gay.
 
“One of my absolute best friends for the last 30 years happens to be gay, and I love her dearly,” Palin said. “She is one of my best friends, who happens to have made a choice that isn’t a choice I would have made. But I am not going to judge people.”
 
Palin has faced criticism for lacking experience in foreign policy. Before becoming governor some two years ago she was the mayor of a small town.
 
Couric asked Palin what newspapers and magazines she read regularly before becoming McCain’s running mate “to stay informed and to understand the world.”
 
Here is her response, according to a transcript provided by CBS:
 
Palin: I’ve read most of them, again with a great appreciation for the press, for the media. 
 
Couric: What, specifically?
 
Palin: Um, all of them, any of them that have been in front of me all these years. 
 
Couric: Can you name a few? 
 
Palin: I have a vast variety of sources where we get our news, too. Alaska isn’t a foreign country, where it’s kind of suggested, “Wow, how could you keep in touch with what the rest of Washington, D.C., may be thinking when you live up there in Alaska?” Believe me, Alaska is like a microcosm of America.

Click here for more Reuters 2008 campaign coverage. 

Photo credit: REUTERS/Stephen Mally

‘SNL’ votes for political satire

tinafey.jpgPolitics and comedy collided once again on “Saturday Night Live” with Tina Fey reviving her dead-on Sarah Palin impression while Fred Armisen’s Barack Obama debated Darrell Hammond’s rendition of John McCain.

The NBC comedy show opened with Fey, wearing a pink jacket and turned out in Palin-esque eyeglasses and her trademark up-do, being interviewed by a a faux Katie Couric. Fey, who first portrayed the Republican vice presidential nominee on “SNL’s” season premiere, offered up titteringly silly answers to questions on foreign policy and her trip to New York City. She was especially disturbed during her visit to the United Nations by the high presence of foreigners there — jobs that she vowed would go to Americans in a McCain administration.

The recreation of Friday’s McCain-Obama debate featured a running gag in which McCain repeatedly proposed that he and Obama suspend their campaigns to either “hold a series of pie-eating contests,” “town hall meetings where you and I appear nude of semi-nude” or for the candidates to be air-dropped so they can search for Osama bin Laden.

Letterman skewers McCain for canceling ‘Late Show’ visit

WASHINGTON – John McCain should have seen this one coming.
 
The Republican presidential candidate suspended his campaign and dramatically announced he was going to Washington to help hammer out a $700 billion bailout to save the U.S. economy.
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Then he called to cancel with David Letterman. At the last minute. Leaving the wickedly funny late night comic with blank airtime to fill. Probably not the smartest move.
 
“Senator John McCain, the Republican candidate for president, was supposed to be on the program tonight,” Letterman said in an opening volley. “But had to cancel the show because he’s suspending his campaign because the economy is exploding.”
 
“You know who John McCain is,” he added to laughter from his live audience. “He’s the running mate of Sarah Palin, you’re aware of that?”
 
And that was just the start. Letterman wasn’t about to let it go. After heaping praise on McCain as an American hero, it was right back to the cancellation.
 
“When you call up and you call up at the last minute and you cancel a show, ladies and gentlemen, that’s starting to smell,” Letterman said. “This, this is not the John McCain I know, by God. It makes me believe something’s gone haywire with the campaign.”
 
“This just doesn’t smell right because this is not the way a tested hero behaves. Somebody’s putting something in his Metamucil,” he said.

A presidential candidate doesn’t just suspend the campaign, Letterman insisted.

“You go back to Washington. You handle what you need to handle. Don’t suspend your campaign. Let your campaign go on, shouldered by your vice presidential nominee, that’s what you do. You don’t quit,” Letterman said, pausing to let his audience mull over the idea of McCain letting the little-experienced Alaska governor take over the campaign.
 
“Or is that really a good thing to do?” Letterman asked.
 
The jibes kept coming. McCain’s age — at 72 he’ll be the oldest president to start a first term in office — and Palin’s inexperience.
 
He reacted with mock astonishment when he discovered McCain had not raced back to Washington but was instead being interviewed for the CBS evening newscast with Katie Couric. Letterman watched a live TV feed from the studio as McCain’s face was patted with makeup.
 
“Doesn’t seem to be racing to the airport, does he?”
 
“Hey John, I got a question. You need a ride to the airport?”