Tales from the Trail

Herman Cain’s bizarre bunny-shooting video

Former pizza magnate Herman Cain has been out of the presidential race for months, but don’t tell him that. Cain, who held the lead among Republican candidates before a series of sexual harassment allegations surfaced – admittedly, well before a single vote was cast – continues to seek relevance by pumping out campaign-like material on his web site and various social media outlets.

On Monday, a new Cain Solutions spot under the current umbrella of “Sick of Stimulus” drew the ire of animal lovers and was briefly pulled from the website YouTube.

The 37-second “Sick of Stimulus” spot, entitled “Rabbit,” showed a young girl holding a large, cute, black and white Easter bunny. “This is small business,” says the girl. “This is small business under the current tax code,” she adds, placing the rabbit into what looks like a cozy straw bed but is in fact a catapult. The bunny – now animated, not real – is then hurled into the air, where an actor dressed in a suit blows it to pieces with a shotgun.

On his website, Cain assures that “no actual bunnies were harmed” in the making of the spot. “Animals are still safer appearing in Herman Cain’s web advertisements than they are in PETA’s care,” he boasts.

YouTube pulled the Cain Connections spot and put up a notice saying its community of viewers had flagged the spot as “inappropriate.” That brought a furious response from Cain: “This is free speech. This is free speech under YouTube. I have some questions!” A triumphant Cain later returned to Facebook and Twitter to say that he had come back from his “YouTube time-out.”

Republican Issa backs off Obama corrupt comment

What a difference an election makes to one’s perspective.

Republican Congressman Darrell Issa now says it was in the “heat of the campaign” that he shot off the comment about President Barack Obama heard around the blogosphere.

Memory refresher: It was on Oct. 19 that Issa said on the Rush Limbaugh show:  “There will be a certain degree of gridlock as the president adjusts to the fact that he has been one of the most corrupt presidents in modern times. He has ignored the very laws that he said were so vital when he was a senator.”

Now that Republicans have won control of the House of Representatives, Issa is set to become chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee and has softened the rhetoric.

Washington Extra – Painful choices

When it comes to framing economic policy, it looks increasingly as though Republicans are winning the debate. Not only have they made “stimulus” almost a dirty word but there seems to be a growing feeling that deficit-financed spending is not a great way to pull the economy out of a recession.jobless Forget the conclusions of the bipartisan Congressional Budget Office about how the bailouts and stimulus of 2008 and 2009 saved millions of jobs. Forget the global consensus around the need for coordinated stimulus after the financial crisis. The American public is simply not convinced.

The Reuters/Ipsos poll released today found 57 percent of Americans believe that, when economic times are tough, cutting the deficit is a better way to create jobs than deficit-financed stimulus.

With the U.S. congressional elections just six weeks away, this finding is bad news for President Barack Obama as he struggles to convince people that Republicans drove the economy into a deep ditch and Democrats are hard at work pulling it out.

from Maggie Fox:

Stimulus package does provide some jobs

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - More than 25 years into the AIDS pandemic, scientists finally have a vaccine that protects some people -- but instead of celebrating, they are going back to the drawing board.

The vaccine, a combination of two older vaccines, only lowered the infection rate by about a third after three years among 16,000 ordinary Thai volunteers. Vaccines need to be at least 50 percent effective, and usually 70 to 80 percent effective, to be useful.

Worse, no one knows why it worked.

"Additional studies are clearly needed to understand how this vaccine regimen reduced the risk of HIV infection," Dr. Eric Schoomaker, surgeon general of the U.S. Army, which helped pay for the study, told reporters.

Bill Clinton to Obama: Don’t be so gloomy on economy

Bill Clinton has some advice for President Barack Obama — lighten up a little on the economic comments, dude. DAVOS/

In an interview with ABC News, the former president said he likes the fact that Obama does not engage in happy talk when he says “the economy could get worse before it gets better,” and that the $787 billion economic stimulus plan is only a start on the road to economic recovery.

“I’m glad he shot straight with us,” the husband of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said.

Stimulus cash not so bad after all, some find

Last week, Republicans were nearly united in their opposition to the massive $787 billion stimulus bill. But now that it’s been signed into law, many are changing their tune.

Nine Republican House members from Florida, who all voted against the stimulus bill, are now asking the government to send money to their state quickly, Politico reports.     USA/

North Carolina Representative Heath Shuler, who also voted against the bill, has also told his constituents he’s going to fight for federal dollars.

The First Draft: Ghost Town

On the day that the government gives itself $787 billion to hand out, turns out there’s nobody in Washington to print it up and hand it out.

After a long Presidents’ Day weekend, President Barack Obama will load the 1,000-page stimulus bill onto Air Force One today and fly it to Denver to sign it into law.USA-STIMULUS/

Congress has adjourned for the week after passing the bill on Friday, so lawmakers are likely back home taking credit for — or distancing themselves from — the record-setting spending package.

Obama family heads for first trip to presidential retreat

In another first for the new First Family, President Barack Obama and his brood left the White House on Saturday for a helicopter trip to Camp David, the presidential retreat outside Washington.

Dressed casually and looking relaxed, Obama left the executive mansion with his wife Michelle, daughters Malia and Sasha, mother-in-law Marian Robinson and an unidentified friend of the girls.

They boarded the awaiting helicopter and took off over the White House grounds. Spectators gathered outside the gates to watch.

Obama mobilizes grassroots supporters

President Barack Obama is mobilizing his grassroots supporters to help build support for his $825 billion economic stimulus package.

In an e-mail sent out Friday, former Obama campaign worker Mitch Stewart urged the campaign’s most ardent activists to host house parties on Feb. 6 to build support for the plan, which must still clear the Senate after passing the House on a sharply partisan vote on Wednesday.

“The economic crisis can seem overwhelming and complex, but you can help the people you know connect the recovery plan to their lives and learn more about why it’s important,” Stewart said.

House Republicans see Obama as sincere, just misguided

OBAMA/WASHINGTON – Republicans in the House of Representatives say they appreciate Democratic President Barack Obama’s efforts to win their support for the economic stimulus bill, which is now approaching $900 billion. But they have made it clear that the partisan divide remains extremely hard to bridge.

“He’s sincere. I think he’s passionate,” Representative Jeb Hensarling, a Texas Republican, said on Thursday at a retreat for House Republicans at the Homestead resort in Hot Springs, Virginia.

“When he spoke to House Republicans, it was clear to me his sincerity and passion about the level of debt,” he said. “Clearly, we disagree on the economic stimulus effect of the government spending.”