Tales from the Trail

Women US senators ready to break another glass ceiling

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WASHINGTON – Women are set to make history next month in the 220-year-old U.S. Senate.

For the first time since the Senate opened its doors in 1789, a pair of female lawmakers are in line to lead one of the chamber’s full committees.

Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu of Louisiana is set to chair the Small Business Committee and Sen. Olympia Snowe of Maine is positioned to serve as the panel’s top Republican.

“It is a distinguished honor to join Senator Landrieu during this historic moment that will further empower women to pursue leadership roles within our country,” Snowe said.

To be sure, men dominate the Senate and American politics. But women have made big and high-profile gains in recent years.

Bush stirs political pot for possible Jeb Senate run

WASHINGTON – The Bush dynasty in Washington may not be over just yet.

BUSH NAVYEven as President George W. Bush is packing his bags to head to Texas after eight years in the White House, he is stirring up a little political curiosity about his “little” brother Jeb possibly running for the U.S. Senate seat in Florida.

In an interview with the blog RealClearPolitics published this week, President Bush was asked if Jeb Bush, the former governor of Florida, would be part of comeback by Republicans in 2010 after a drubbing in the last two congressional elections.

“He would be an awesome U.S. senator,” Bush replied. The seat up in 2010 is being vacated by Republican Sen. Mel Martinez who decided earlier this month not to run for another term.

Sen. Martinez won’t seek re-election in battleground of Florida

Posted by Michael Peltier and Thomas Ferraro

WASHINGTON — Republican Mel Martinez of Florida — a Cuban immigrant who says he lived “The American Dream” — is calling it quits as a member of the U.S. Senate.

Having narrowly won a first term in 2004 and facing an anticipated tough re-election in 2010, Martinez announced on Tuesday he will not run for a second term.

“The inescapable truth, for me, is that the call to public service is strong — but the call to home, family and lifelong friends is even stronger,” Martinez said in a statement that he read at a news conference in Orlando, Florida, and was also released in Washington.

Palin open to idea of Senate run

WASHINGTON – In yet another television interview, former Republican vice presidential hopeful Sarah Palin revealed on Wednesday that while she was focused on her job as Alaska’s governor she was open to the idea of a Senate bid.

While at first saying it was “not necessarily” the kind of post she would like some day, she was open to the idea.

“I’m not going to close any doors that perhaps would be in front of me and would allow me to put to good use executive experience and a world view that I think is good for our nation,” she said in an interview with CNN’s “Larry King Live.” “I’m not going to close any door there in terms of opportunity that may be there in the future.”

Can Ted Stevens thrust Palin back into the national spotlight?

ANCHORAGE – Gov. Sarah Palin has gone home to Alaska, but her return to the national political stage may come sooner than the 2012 U.S. presidential campaign.

If Republican Sen. Ted Stevens maintains his slim lead over Anchorage Mayor Mark Begich, it could once again thrust Palin into the spotlight. The 84-year-old Stevens could be re-elected for an eighth term despite being convicted of corruption last month. His conviction prompted calls for his resignation from Republican presidential candidate John McCain and Palin, his running mate. Stevens has vowed to fight on even though a convicted felon has never served in the U.S. Senate.

The conviction came a week before election day — too late to replace the longest-serving Republican on ballots in Alaska. If Stevens wins the election and then relinquishes his seat, that’s when things could get interesting.

US presidential result to touch off Senate scramble

WASHINGTON – When the voting ends in Tuesday’s presidential election, the campaigning will just begin for one and possibly two Senate seats.

That’s because whoever wins the White House, one or two Senate vacancies will be created.

If Democratic Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois is victorious, he will have to vacate his Senate seat, as will his vice presidential running mate Joseph Biden of Delaware. If Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona scores a come-from-behind White House win, he’ll do the same.

“He doesn’t understand” and “Bush” references pepper debate

rtx8ysz.jpgWASHINGTON – There wasn’t a “You’re no Jack Kennedy” moment at the first presidential debate of 2008. But there were several lines both White House hopefuls kept using throughout the evening as a way of getting in subtle and not-so-subtle digs at each other.
 
By our count, Democratic contender Barack Obama mentioned the unpopular President George W. Bush 10 times over the course of the 97-minute debate, trying to suggest Republican rival John McCain would represent the same as the last eight years.
 
“John mentioned me being wildly liberal. Mostly that’s just me opposing George Bush’s wrong headed policies since I’ve been in Congress,” the Illinois senator said.
 
McCain had his own way of using words to undercut his rival, focusing on Obama’s four years in the U.S. Senate versus his 22 years in the legislative body. 

He said seven different times that Obama just didn’t understand a range of issues, from strategy in Iraq to the recent conflict between Russia and Georgia.
 
“Well, I was interested in Senator Obama’s reaction to the Russian aggression against Georgia.  His first statement was, ‘Both sides ought to show restraint,’” McCain said. “Again, a little bit of naivete there. “He doesn’t understand that Russia committed serious aggression against Georgia.”
 
Obama on nine occasions said that McCain was right on various issues — sometimes in praising him but also sometimes just agreeing with a comment.  He agreed that McCain was correct about the surge of troops in Iraq dramatically cutting down violence, and he agreed that presidents had to be prudent in what they said.

Obama also said McCain was wrong on at least three occasions.

Click here for more Reuters 2008 campaign coverage

Photo credit: Reuters/Jim Bourg (McCain and Obama pass each other on stage at debate)