Tales from the Trail

Hillary Clinton wouldn’t flee to Canada if Sarah Palin was president

What did students in Saudi Arabia want to ask Secretary of State Hillary Clinton about? Republican Sarah Palin. SAUDI-CLINTON/

One young man asked Clinton:  “Does the prospect of  Sarah Palin one day becoming president, maybe, terrify you?” and whether the Secretary of State might consider moving to Canada — or even Russia — in response.

“Well, the short answer is no. I will not be emigrating,” Clinton replied with a smile. “I will be visiting as often as I can.”

Clinton, who ran for the Democratic presidential nomination last year, is no stranger to politics, but said she would not speculate on who Republicans might nominate in 2012 to run for president. Palin was John McCain’s running mate in the 2008 election.

“You know our political seasons never end. It is part of the American political environment that people are always speculating on who will run for president, and who will become president, and I’ve gone through that experience personally,” she said.

U.S. politics? “It sucks,” former chief of staff says

USA-OBAMABarack Obama’s plate is piled high with problems — two wars, stubbornly high U.S. joblessness, a stalled healthcare overhaul and a poisonously partisan political environment in Washington. But one thing he isn’t low on is advice.

A recent suggestion comes from a former chief of staff to the last Democratic president, Bill Clinton, who says the overall health of  U.S. politics “sucks,” but has an idea for how Obama can seize back the political story from the Republicans, who seem to stand stubbornly united against everything he tries.

If he wants to get back control of the political narrative, Obama needs to make better use of his cabinet, John Podesta told the Financial Times.  “He’s got a terrific cabinet. Use it. Get out into the country and use it,” Podesta, who now runs a Washington think tank and advises Obama, said.

Beyond the talk show fireworks, Cheney supported some Obama decisions

Former Vice President Dick Cheney swapped barbs with Vice President Joe Biden on the morning talk shows Sunday.

Beyond the fireworks, however, there were interesting things they didn’t argue about.

Cheney endorsed President Barack Obama’s approach in Afghanistan.

He backed an end to the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy that limits the ability of homosexuals to serve in the military.

Republican “blank page” challenges Obama

OBAMA/The next U.S. presidential election is more than 2-1/2 years away. But pollsters are already asking how President Barack Obama would stack up against a Republican challenger.

The results are favorable. But for whom? No one can say.

Obama is in a statistical dead heat against an unnamed Republican candidate, leading the challenger 44 percent to 42 percent, according to a Gallup poll with a 4-percentage-point margin of error. Gallup surveyed 1,025 adults Feb. 1-3.

Media pundits are divided about what the findings mean, or don’t mean.

Some say the data are meaningless except as a gauge of 2010 voter anger toward Washington and incumbents generally.

Democrats can’t escape questions about Sarah Palin

Democrats can’t go anywhere these days without being asked about Sarah Palin, and some of them are not overwhelmed.

“Look, she is interesting,” Senator John Kerry told CNN’s “Larry King Live” program Wednesday.

“She represents some of the transformation of American politics into entertainment,”  he said.

What does Michelle Obama think of Sarah Palin? We may never find out…

It’s pretty clear what defeated Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin thinks of President Barack Obama, but did you ever wonder what first lady Michelle Obama thinks of Palin?

Don’t count on finding out anytime soon.

OBAMA/Asked for her “read” on Palin during a round of television interviews Tuesday, Obama was frustratingly diplomatic.

“You know, I don’t have a read,” she told CNN’s “Larry King Live” program. “I mean I try not to make or set opinions about people that I haven’t had any … substantive interaction with.”

Obama aide backhands Palin over crib notes

OBAMAWhite House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs mocked former Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin for writing notes on her hand at last weekend’s Tea Party convention.

At his daily briefing, Gibbs jokingly showed the White House press corps his left palm where scrawled in black ink was a grocery list of items to buy in case he and his family were snowed in.

“Eggs, milk and bread,” Gibbs read to laughter. “But I crossed out bread … And then I wrote down ‘hope and change,’ just in case I forgot,” he quipped, referring to President Barack Obama’s  slogan during the 2008 campaign.

2012 may be an open door for Palin, but first comes 2010

USA/Sarah Palin’s right. It would be absurd for her not to consider a White House bid in 2012, especially while Tea Partiers are chanting, “Run, Sarah, run!”  
   
But first come this November’s elections, which could help build Palin’s credibility if her high-profile public appearances (and repeated attacks on President Barack Obama) actually help conservative candidates get elected to Congress and important state offices around the country. If.

Some political experts say Palin’s weekend keynote speech at the big Tea party in Nashville was her best since the 2008 GOP convention — detailed, focused and high on energy. Lucrative, too, given the $100,000 speaker’s fee, though the on-stage interview seemed a bit scripted, especially the part about what she’d do if she were president. 
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The appearance also kicked off a busy travel schedule to help candidates in this year’s campaign.
   
On Super Bowl Sunday, she was in Texas helping Republican Gov. Rick Perry with his March gubernatorial primary contest against Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison. Polling results show Hutchison trailing the incumbent by 15 percentage points and losing ground to a third candidate, Tea Party activist Debra Medina.

Palin spent much of her time in the Lone Star State assailing Washington, and by implication, Hutchison. She raised a huge cheer by pointing out in non-establishment fashion that Texans might like to secede.     
    
But moving the national political applause needle to the right in 2010 could be much more difficult than rallying friendly audiences or using a talking hand to bash that “charismatic guy with a TelePrompTer.”
   
A state-by-state analysis of Obama’s job approval ratings by Gallup may offer a glimpse of the voter sentiment challenge that Palin and her conservative allies face this year.

Gingrich once again at head of Republican pack

Once, a first-term Democratic president failed to deliver on healthcare reform and found his party USA-POLITICS/swept from office by a wave of voter anger that brought Republican Newt Gingrich to the forefront of American politics. Could this history lesson from the Clinton era be repeated?

Healthcare reform is stalled, voters are angry and Gingrich — who rose to prominence as House speaker after Republicans won Congress in 1994 — is again leading the pack, this time among  potential White House hopefuls for 2012.

The Washington-based political news outlet, Politico, says Gingrich’s political action committee is raising money far faster than those of 2008 campaign veterans including Mitt Romney, Mike Huckabee and former Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin.

A film classic ripe for a Washington-style update?

USA/It’s Oscar nomination day, which means some in snow-covered Washington DC — Hollywood for ugly people, if you believe the old saying — are daydreaming about what it would be like to make a blockbuster film. “Avatar” seems to have the inside track in this year’s Academy Award race, but isn’t there an old classic movie ripe for a Washington-style remake?

USA-POLITICS/BROWNHow about “Meet John Doe”? It’s a Frank Capra morality piece made in 1941, where a soda jerk can speak basic truth and a rail-riding hobo is played by Gary Cooper, the George Clooney of his day. Everybody’s scrounging for a job and a buck, they’re laying off the old pros at the local newspaper and a cigar-chomping oil magnate wants to get into politics. Barbara Stanwyck plays a hard-driving columnist who fakes a letter from a mythical “John Doe” who says he’s going to leap off the city hall roof on Christmas Eve to protest widespread corruption and the state of the world in general.

USA/But that’s all background. What makes it made-to-order for a 2010 remake is what happens when Gary Cooper a.k.a. “John Doe” speaks to a big gathering, reading remarks written by the columnist, who’s now in cahoots with the oil magnate: the crowd loves him so much they go out and form grassroots John Doe Clubs, just to be neighborly. No politicians allowed. They’re not partisan, they just want to make things a little better.