Tales from the Trail

2012 candidates woo voters on Labor Day

Labor Day is no day off for President Barack Obama and the Republicans who want his job. The holiday to pay tribute to American workers traditionally marks the start of the general election campaign. And although 15 months remain before the 2012 election, you’ll find the 2012 White House hopefuls on the road Monday hoping to score points with voters.

Democrat Obama travels to Detroit on Labor Day to talk about how to create jobs and strengthen the economy, the White House said. With U.S. unemployment steady at 9.1 percent, Reuters’ Jeff Mason writes  Obama’s on the spot to boost hiring and economic growth as he campaigns for a second term in the White House.

Obama also spoke in Detroit on Labor Day 2008 as his general election race heated up against Republican presidential rival Senator John McCain.

McCain’s vice presidential running mate, Sarah Palin, is not a declared candidate, but the whole world is waiting to find out whether she’ll join the the race for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination.

The former Alaska governor is the headliner at a Tea Party Express rally in Manchester, New Hampshire on Monday. Will she use her Labor Day speech to end the suspense over her intentions? Palin has indicated she’ll make a decision sometime this month. ABC News analyst Rick Klein poses the question:  when  Palin’s decision finally comes will  she still be relevant?

What Powell wants in a 2012 presidential candidate

Former Secretary of State Colin Powell, a Republican, endorsed Democrat Barack Obama in the 2008 presidential race.

But the former top U.S. military officer, who once considered a presidential run of his own, tells NPR’s “Morning Edition” he’s undecided about which candidate to vote for in the 2012 election.

“I’m always undecided in every election,” he said in excerpts of an interview taped for Friday. “I always measure each candidate against what I think the country needs at that time and I will vote for the person I think who is most qualified to serve the nation at that time.”

Big campaign bucks don’t always spell victory

Expectations for massive fund-raising in the 2012 election may obscure one point — big bucks don’t always lead to victory. And in fact, too much spending — especially in the form of too many advertisements — can turn off voters.

There have been several notable examples of heavy, but ultimately fruitless, outspending in recent elections.

In the 2010 midterms, Republican Meg Whitman, the billionaire former chief executive of eBay, spent $140 million of her own money, or about $43 per vote,to campaign for governor against Democrat Jerry Brown.  Brown spent $7.50 per vote to defeat her by 12 percentage points, in a race that was a rare bright spot for Democrats in elections that saw most Republicans sweep to victory.

Romney targeted over plans for growth — of his house

Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney,  who has criticized President Barack Obama for taking a nine-day vacation at a time of high unemployment, filed for permits to almost quadruple the size of his oceanfront home in La Jolla, California.

The former Massachusetts governor and his wife bought the house three years ago for $12 million. They want to knock down the one-story, 3,009-square-foot home overlooking the Pacific Ocean and replace it with an 11,062-square foot place in its stead, according to the San Diego Union Tribune.

Romney says he needs a bigger place to have room for his five sons, their wives and his 16 grandchildren. The Union Tribune said the plans would keep the house’s existing pool and spa.

Huntsman in the ‘middle’ in 2012 Republican field

Jon Huntsman is counting on right-of-center politics to give him an advantage  in the race for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination,   despite polls showing him trailing far behind  the favorites in a crowded field.

He says Democrat Barack Obama is too far to the left and the president’s other Republican opponents are too far to the right.

“This country is crying out for a sensible middle ground. This is a center-right country; I am a center-right candidate,” the former Utah governor said in an interview on ABC’s “This Week with Christiane Amanpour.”

Haley not ready to pick 2012 Republican favorite

An endorsement from South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, a favorite of the Tea Party movement, could give a boost to the  Republican presidential candidate of her choice.

But in an interview with CNN on Thursday she said it’s too soon to pick a favorite in the campaign for the 2012 Republican presidential nominee.

“What I have told everybody is now is the time where we need to weigh in on asking them the hard questions,” she said. “This is the time we really need to be doing a lot of the listening to what their details are and what their specifics are and waiting to weigh in until we can really see what the full platform looks like.”

Bachmann mixes up Elvis tribute

Right day. Wrong message.

As fans of  Elvis Presley were observing the 34th anniversary of  his death Monday, Republican presidential candidate Michele Bachmann joined those paying tribute to the late king of rock and roll.

At the start of a stump speech in  Spartanburg, South Carolina, the Minnesota congresswoman’s tribute message was just a tad off.

With the sound of Presley’s   “Promised Land”  drifting from the loudspeaker,  Bachmann gave Elvis a shout-out with a “happy birthday” greeting.

Perry, Bachmann shine star power at Iowa dinner

Newly-minted Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry (and his black campaign bus)  rolled into Waterloo Sunday, where the Texas governor made a  campaign pitch to Iowa voters.

Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann showed up at the same event. They weren’t on stage together but Perry ending up sharing the spotlight.

Perry spoke first at the Black Hawk County GOP Lincoln Day Dinner and acknowledged another Republican presidential hopeful in the room, former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum .

Republicans warm up in Iowa debate

Things got a little heated between Michele Bachmann and Tim Pawlenty during the Republican debate in Ames, Iowa.

Early on in the two-hour debate, the former Minnesota governor tried to knock the Minnesota congresswoman down a peg, saying her record of accomplishment and results “is nonexistent.”

Bachmann took aim at his record as governor, blasting his support for a cap and trade environmental plan and individual mandates in healthcare. “That sounds more like Barack Obama if you ask me,” she said.

Obama hosts Iftar dinner marking Ramadan

Three dozen foreign diplomats,  two Muslim American members of Congress  and some 9/11 families were among the guests invited to join President Barack Obama for what has become a White House tradition — an Iftar dinner celebrating Ramadan.

“Tonight is part of a rich tradition here at the White House of celebrating the holy days of many faiths and the diversity that define us as a nation,” Obama said in his welcome remarks.

“Like so many faiths, Islam has always been part of our American family, and Muslim Americans have long contributed to the strength and character of our country, in all walks of life. This has been especially true over the past 10 years,” Obama said.