Tales from the Trail

Business comments taken out of context, Obama says in new ad

President Barack Obama’s campaign released a new television advertisement on Tuesday pushing back against a wave of attacks that followed remarks the Democratic incumbent made that Republicans deemed anti-business.

The 30-second advertisement — “Always” — will air in six battleground states and is the second in as many days featuring a regal Obama speaking directly into a camera — a far cry from the campaign’s hard-hitting ads, marked by ominous narrators and elaborate graphic design, portraying Mitt Romney as a ruthless former private equity executive whose personal finances are shrouded in secrecy.

In the ad, the president is seen fighting back — calmly, authoritatively — against a barrage of attacks by Romney, his campaign, and wider Republicans who seized on a fragment of Obama’s speech in Virginia on July 13 when he said, “If you own a business, you didn’t build that.”

Obama said his words were taken out of context, that he was conveying a sense of economic togetherness and that successful business owners have been helped at some point by the public sector — through public education, government-funded projects and investments, and physical and legal infrastructure allowing their goods to travel safely to market.

“Those ads taking my words about small business out of context; they’re flat out wrong,” Obama says in the ad, which will air in Virginia, North Carolina, Florida, Ohio, Iowa and Nevada. “Of course Americans build their own business. Every day hard-working people sacrifice to meet a payroll, create jobs, and make our economy run.”

The 99 percent comes out to protest Romney in Seattle

Republican Mitt Romney has rarely faced a critical mass of protesters during his months-long campaign for the White House. But then, he doesn’t often visit the Left Coast. And protesters were out in force in Seattle on Thursday night when Romney held a fundraiser at a civic center in Bellevue, Washington, near Seattle, attended by the local political establishment and well-heeled locals.

The complex holding the event also contained the upscale “Shops at the Bravern” mall. After the event fund-raisers could have slipped out to pick up a few items at Hermes, Louis Vuitton or Jimmy Choo.

About 100 protesters turned up for a spirited but peaceful demonstration with signs, props and inventive chants, including some of those who have participated in the Occupy Wall Street movement. A cardboard cutout of the candidate was on the scene, holding a sign that said “Of the 1 percent, by the 1 percent, for the 1 percent.” Various protesters were dressed as buildings to illustrate Romney’s “corporations are people” meme.

Will Obama be a $1 billion man? Democrats say not so fast

A persistent theme of President Barack Obama’s nascent re-election bid has been an expectation that the Democratic incumbent – who amassed a $750 million war chest when he won the White House in 2008 — will break his record this time and become the first candidate to raise $1 billion in campaign funds for 2012. 

The logic behind that figure? One bit of reasoning is that Obama and his then-rival Hillary Clinton together raised far more than $1 billion in 2008, showing there are plenty of Democratic wallets out there waiting to be opened this time.

Democratic Party officials have issued repeated dire warnings about Republicans’ fund-raising prowess, especially in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s “Citizens United” decision that allowed unlimited spending by corporations, labor unions and other groups. Democrats say secret donations allowed under Citizens United helped fuel the Republicans’ huge success in the 2010 mid-terms.

Freebies offered for a shutdown budget

No work, no trash pick-up, no Circulator bus trips around town, but at least the “non-essential” federal employee can eat like a teenager in a buffet line if the federal government shuts down after the clock hits 12 tonight.  FASHION/

Federal and Washington D.C. government services not deemed essential will close if Congress fails to reach a budget deal before funds run out at midnight. But local restaurants and bars are offering some compensation — deals and freebies for government workers if Republicans and Democrats fail to reach agreement.

Taylor Gourmet is offering 10 percent off orders at its H St NE location starting at 12:01 a.m. to anyone who presents a government ID and says “Shut it down.” (And check out that photo!)

Clinton’s happy to be out of the running

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton seen here in a Nov. 9, 2009 file photo of an event marking the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall.  REUTERS/Christian Charisius

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton seen here in a Nov. 9, 2009 file photo of an event marking the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. REUTERS/Christian Charisius

Former U.S. senator and presidential candidate Hillary Clinton says she is done seeking votes.

Clinton, who is secretary of state under President Barack Obama, said on Sunday she is not planning to run again for president or any other political office.

Stewart, Colbert rally gets ‘puzzling’ endorsement

TELEVISION-EMMYSFirst came celebrity endorsements from Oprah and Arianna. Now Jon Stewart’s Washington “Rally to Restore Sanity” has a more puzzling promoter.

Here’s a clue: German summer pants for little William? (10 letters) 

Stumped? The answer is ”Will Shortz“. He’s editor of the New York Times crossword puzzle, which today devotes no fewer than eight clues to the Daily Show host, his fellow satirist Stephen Colbert of the Colbert Report and the joint rally they’re planning for Saturday on the National Mall.

For anyone flummoxed by the clues to 54 and 65 Across, Colbert’s version of the event is called the “March to Keep Fear Alive.”

Barack and Jon, together again, on The Daily Show next week

First he gave an unexpected endorsement to Jon Stewart’s upcoming “Rally to Restore Sanity.” Now President Barack Obama is giving the host of the satirical talk show the ultimate television “get” — himself as a guest.

OBAMA/Obama will appear on “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart” on Wednesday, Oct. 27, in the middle of a week of special episodes taped in Washington ahead of the Nov. 2 midterm elections. It all culminates with a Saturday rally on the National Mall.

The Washington episodes – to air Oct. 25 – Oct. 28 – are called “When Grizzlies Attack: A ‘Daily Show’ Midterm Teapartyganza.” That’s a reference to the conservative Tea Party political movement and former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin referring to conservative women politicians as “Mama Grizzlies.”

The chill of the Chandra Levy murder trial

USACRIMELEVYThe Washington summer of Chandra Levy seems to belong to another era — one where a missing government intern and a straying congressman dominated headlines and chatter in the U.S. capital. Congress was somnolent, the country was at peace and prosperous and a new president was learning the ropes. The big concern at the Pentagon was making the U.S. military more efficient in a process dubbed “transformation.” It was the summer of 2001.

It’s now the autumn of 2010, more than nine years since Levy disappeared from her apartment on May 1, 2001, and the trial of a suspect in her murder is at hand. Between then and now, the world has changed. The 9/11 attacks in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania banished the Levy case to the back pages of newspapers and a brief mention in newscasts (this was before news a la Facebook or Twitter). The military moved away from “transformation” to war in Afghanistan.

When Levy’s remains were discovered in Rock Creek Park in May 2002, it was an eerie reminder of what held Washington’s attention at the beginning of a tumultuous decade. Crisis followed crisis — the autumn of 2002 brought a pair of murderous snipers to the area — and the Levy case grew cold again. The United States went to war in Iraq. The snipers were tried and convicted. Gary Condit, the Democratic congressman who had been involved with the 24-year-old from Modesto, California, lost his bid for re-election and left the House of Representatives in January 2003.

from Summit Notebook:

Shift in power on the horizon in Washington?

Republicans stand poised to gain substantial influence in Congress, putting at stake billions of dollars in investment as a shift among power brokers throws legislative initiatives old and new into doubt. Reuters Washington Summit will bring together an influential line-up of insiders just weeks before Americans cast their votes, promising a must-read stream of exclusive news on the outlook for Congress and President Barack Obama's agenda. Editors and correspondents from the Reuters Washington bureau are sitting down with senior lawmakers, including GOP heavyweights in line for leadership, and regulators whose implementation of Wall Street and healthcare reform could be complicated by a change in control on Capitol Hill.

The Summit will generate exclusive stories, investable insights, online videos and blog postings, which will be immediately available only to Thomson Reuters clients during the Summit. Key interviews will air live exclusively on Reuters Insider - a new multimedia platform delivering relevant news, analysis and trade ideas presented through a personalized video experience. Visit http://etv.thomsonreuters.com/