Tales from the Trail

Obama: could be fun to try putting lipstick on a pig

NEW YORK – As controversy surrounded Barack Obama’s comments about putting lipstick on a pig, the Democratic presidential hopeful found himself joking about the whole idea of putting makeup on an animal. rtr1oh7z.jpg

In an appearance on “The Late Show With David Letterman”, after 24 hours of back-and-forth over Obama’s use of the “lipstick” analogy, Obama found time to laugh.

“Have you ever actually put lipstick on a pig?” Letterman asked.

“The answer would be no,” Obama replied with a laugh. “But I think it might be fun to try.”

Obama said it was “silly season” in politics and noted that the saying “you can put lipstick on a pig, but it’s still a pig” is a common saying and it means that if you have a bad idea you can’t just dress it up and make it better.

“In this case I was talking about John McCain’s economic plans. That just calling them ‘change’, calling them something different doesnt’ make it better,” the Illinois senator said. “Hence, ‘lipstick on a pig, it’s still a pig.’”

McCain finds it tough without Palin

PHILADELPHIA – Republican presidential candidate John McCain cut short his first public appearance without running-mate Sarah Palin after chanting supporters of Democratic rival Barack Obama interrupted his speech.

After lunching with a roundtable of women at Philadelphia’s Down Home Diner, McCain shook hands with supporters and strode up to a podium to deliver a statement. But as he spoke, chants of “Obama, Obama, Obama” filled the room.

Reporters craned forward trying to hear the Arizona senator. Unfortunately for McCain — and possibly overlooked by aides who planned the event — a section of the diner opened up to a market where a crowd had gathered behind a cordon.

McCain, Palin draw large crowd in battleground of Virginia

FAIRFAX, Va. – It was Republican John McCain’s turn on Wednesday to relish the kind rock-star treatment usually associated with his Democratic rival, Barack Obama, in the tightening race for the White House.

rtx8mop.jpgUnder burning sunshine at a park in a suburb outside Washington, D.C., McCain and his newly minted running-mate Sarah Palin drew a crowd of approximately 23,000, which his campaign said was his biggest on the presidential trail.

Campaigns are notorious for inflating crowd estimates. But a McCain’s aide stressed the number was the real thing — provided by a fire marshal no less.

Game On: Republican convention ends, tell us your thoughts…

rtx8f6n.jpgThe Republican convention is over, a whirlwind event interrupted by a hurricane hitting the Gulf Coast and energized by the pick of a woman vice presidential candidate. And with it comes the home stretch of the (seemingly interminable) 2008 presidential election.

Did presidential hopeful John McCain finally win over the conservative base by picking the conservative Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as his No. 2? Does he run the risk of alienating the independents drawn to him in the past with her selection? Did he lay out enough policy specifics to refute charges by rival Democratic candidate Barack Obama that details were lacking?

What else do voters want and need to hear now that the conventions are over?  Game on, bring on the debates!

Why does Sarah Palin’s biopic sound so familiar?

ST. PAUL – “Mother. Moose hunter. Maverick.” As a film on vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin began at the Republican National Convention on Thursday night, a strangely familiar melody played in the background.

The swelling strings triggered associations of family, oil and … J.R. Ewing? Yes, the song bore a striking similarity to the theme song from “Dallas.”

Listen for yourself:

Sarah Palin bio (from about 0:35) YouTube Preview Image

Dallas opening credits (from about 0:10) YouTube Preview Image

Inside the Tent: Ron Silver talks about terrorism

Director and actor Ron Silver talks about his support for the Bush administration’s response to the attacks of Sept. 11 in New York and Washington and why the issue of terrorism remains important to him now. This video was shot by Inside the Tent contributor John Steward.

Reuters Inside the Tent equipped more than 40 delegates and other attendees in St. Paul and the Democratic National Convention last week in Denver with video cameras to capture the conventions from the ground up. Steward is not an employee of Reuters, and any views expressed are his own.

Click here for a full list of contributors.

Click here for more Inside the Tent blogs.

Click here for more Reuters 2008 election coverage.

Inside the Tent: Reactions to Sarah Palin’s speech

Sarah Palin touted her small-town roots and lashed out at Democrat Barack Obama during a highly anticipated speech to the Republican convention on Wednesday, ridiculing her critics as out-of-touch elitists who do not understand everyday life in America.

Here are some reactions from inside the convention center in St. Paul:

Liz Tait and Molly White, Texas

“Soccer moms are gonna put her in the White House!”

Bob McAfee, Pennsylvania

“She’s a winner and we need a winner.”

Anne Conrad, Tennessee

“She’s a woman who has dealt with real issues in her family, her state, and her job, and she’s addressed them with strength, out of courage, and really following her convictions.”

Tony Manheim, New York

“I thought she gave a great speech and I’m rethinking my initial reactions.”

Inside the Tent: Ralph Reed

Republican strategist Ralph Reed talks about what John McCain can do to get out the vote among social conservatives — starting with his pick of Sarah Palin as the vice presidential nominee. This video was shot by Inside the Tent contributor John Steward.

Inside the Tent has more than 40 delegates and other attendees in Denver and St. Paul, equipped with video cameras to capture the conventions from the ground up. Steward is not a Reuters employee and any opinions expressed are his own.

Click here for a full list of contributors at the Republican National Convention.

Fiorina: Media belittle and demean Palin


ST. PAUL – Carly Fiorina and other women supporters of Sen. John McCain blasted “the media” for what they called sexist coverage of vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin, and denied that the Republican party had inflicted its own sexist attacks on Hillary Clinton.

fiorina.jpg“The Republican Party  will not stand by while Sarah Palin is subjected to sexist attacks,” Fiorina said.

She singled out a column by The New York Times’s Maureen Dowd that referred to Republicans’ “tradition of nominating fun, bantamweight cheerleaders from the West” as a glaring example of gender stereotyping.

Prediction markets place bets on Palin’s permanence

The online prediction market Intrade sees a 12 percent chance that Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin will be withdrawn as the Republican vice presidential nominee before the U.S. presidential election on November 4.

Intrade accepts trades on the probability of events such as whether there will be a recession, whether the U.S. Congress will lift the ban on offshore drilling or whether the United States or Israel will launch a military strike on Iran. It opened the Palin betting market on Tuesday morning after a series of revelations about the Alaska governor whom Sen. John McCain chose as his running mate, including that her 17-year-old daughter was pregnant.

The market opened at 3 percent that she would have to withdraw as McCain’s running mate and climbed as high as 18 percent before settling down to 12 percent on 632 trades as of noon EDT. The markets are priced from zero to 100, with zero meaning investors see no chance an event will happen and 100 meaning it already has happened.