Barack Obama, in Lima, Ohio, this morning, told reporters that he and his staff are in touch with Gulf Coast officials and will wait to see the impact of the hurricane and to get word on what's most needed in terms of specific supplies or volunteers, and once that becomes clear "we can activate an email list of a couple million people" who support his campaign and would want to help.
August 31, 2008
As Barack Obama and Joe Biden wrap up their first joint campaign tour since formally accepting the Democratic nomination, Biden is developing one of his roles as running mate - that of self-deprecating Obama admirer who humanizes the campaign. Amid somber talk about Hurricane Gustav, the economy and health care, Biden brought a little levity at his own expense at a town hall meeting in Toledo, Ohio. When a woman in the audience yelled out that she thought Biden was gorgeous, he asked her to repeat what she'd said, and told campaign staffers to make sure his wife Jill heard about it. "I haven't heard that that in a long, long, long time," he joked. Sharing the stage with Obama, who is 47, Biden, 65, added, that "hanging around with this lean young looking guy is making me feel pretty old, you know what I mean?" Later, recalling how he'd campaigned against Obama last year and early this year in the primaries before dropping his bid, Biden interrupted himself and said, "I don't know why the heck I didn't drop out earlier."
Florida Gov. Charlie Crist didn't have to field a single question about being passed over the veep nomination when he appeared on CNN this morning: Instead, appearing live from St. Petersburg in an aqua polo shirt, Crist sounded more meteorologist than politico, talking hurricane preparedness with Wolf Blitzer.
"We're still concerned in the Panhandle about rip currents, we also had some bands that came through the Fort Myers area this morning and we had tornado warnings in the Keys," Crist said of Hurricane Gustav, bearing down on the Gulf Coast. "We're concerned about it, we're concerned about our neighbors too."
With Tropical Storm Hanna eying Florida, Crist, who has already delayed his trip to the Republican convention, said his appearance in St. Paul is "looking less likely.
"It all depends on what happens with these storms," Crist said. "First things first, and that is protect the people of my state ... First and foremost we need to be here for the people and that's what I'm going to do."
With Hurricane Gustav bearing down on the Gulf Coast, President Bush is now not expected to address the Republican National Convvention. Bush was scheduled to appear Monday night for a prime-time address.
But Sunday morning, White House spokesman Scott Stanzel sent this e-mail to the media:
"Due to Hurricane Gustav, President Bush is unlikely to travel to Minnesota for the convention. The White House is working on alternate plans, and we'll provide more information as we have it."
August 30, 2008
It's impossible to evaluate whether the choice of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin to be the Republicans' 2008 vice presidential candidate is a good or bad one, according to new polling from Gallup. The pollster surveyed 898 people nationwide Friday, the day of the announcement.
It found 71 percent did not know enough about Palin to make a judgment, though of the rest, 22 percent had a favorable opinion while 7 percent viewed her unfavorably.
Reaction to the Palin choice was nearly identical to reaction to Democratic nominee's picking Delaware Sen. Joseph Biden a week ago.
Here's a key part of the analysis of the Palin choice from Gallup editor Frank Newport:
"The initial reaction of the American public to McCain's surprise selection of Palin as his vice presidential running mate is muted. A substantial majority of Americans don't know enough about her yet to have an opinion, and a large majority says that at this point her selection will not have an impact on their presidential vote either way.
"The good news for McCain and Palin is that among those who do know her, her image is significantly more positive than negative, and in fact more positive on a ratio basis than the image of Biden when his was measured a week ago.
"On the negative side of the ledger for the Republicans is that almost as many Americans say she is not qualified to serve as president as say she is qualified, giving her a more negative reading on this measure than any other recent vice presidential selection with the exception of Quayle in 1992.
"Given the fact that so many Americans profess at this point to know nothing about Palin, the next several weeks may be critical to her success as a vice presidential nominee as her image is shaped and formed in the harsh spotlight of national media attention. The data suggest that one major task of the Republican convention in particular will be to convince a skeptical public that she would be able to serve as president if needed."
To read the entire report:
Barack Obama and running mate Joe Biden are campaigning in Ohio today. But most of the reporters in their "traveling press corps" won't actually see them until around 7 p.m. at a rally at a high school gym in Dublin, Ohio, a Columbus suburb.
That's partly because they're attending a memorial service today for the late Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones of Cleveland and it would be unwieldy and inappropriate to show up with dozens of cameras and scribes. But Obama and Biden also are tucking unannnounced local stops into their day. On those, they will be accompanied by a small pool of reporters who share what they see and hear with the other reporters traveling.
Using a pool for smaller events is standard operating procedure. Who's in the pool rotates daily. What's different is that there's typically more than one event per day that the full traveling contingent can attend, and it's typically earlier in the day. It was a similar story Friday, when the campaign plane flew from Denver in the morning to Pittsburgh, Pa., but the reporters outside the pool didn't see Obama and Biden again until nighttime.
With all that background, here are some highlights from this morning's pool report compiled by Mike Dorning of the Chicago Tribune and Nicole Gaudiano of Gannett News Service:
Sen. Barack and Michelle Obama and Sen. Joe and Jill Biden ate breakfast this morning at the Yankee Kitchen, a diner in Boardman, Ohio, a suburb of Youngstown, Ohio. . . Obama and Biden addressed preparations for Hurricane Gustav in response to reporters' questions. Asked about Gustav, Obama said, "We are deeply concerned. I've instructed my Senate staff to monitor the situation closely. Make sure we've contacted both FEMA but also private relief organizations just to make sure that whatever happens people are prepared. And, you know, obviously we're going to be each day seeing what happens and we're praying for New Orleans but we want to make sure that people are making all the necessary precautions."
Biden: "The news cast as I was shaving this morning, it looks like it's heading straight to New Orleans. I've spent a fair amount of time down there, my daughter went down to Tulane down there, Jill was there for a week after when the hurricane hit last time. And it's just, you know, hope to God.
"Last time when it hit my son's guard unit, he headed up a guard unit in Mississippi because Delaware was the first ...guard unit to head down into Mississippi. When I say headed up, he was first on the ground and because of his rank, he was he was the guy in charge. It looks like this time, theyre not taking any, they're not taking any chances. So say a prayer. Say a prayer it doesn't hit. They've had enough."
Asked how he was adjusting to his new role (as vice president), Biden said, "I hope I'm adjusting well."
The Obamas and Bidens spent 40 minutes at the Yankee Kitchen, arriving at 8:32 am and departing at 9:12 a.m. Most of that time was spent shaking hands, greeting and posing for photos with the customers, several of whom said they found out the night before that Obama was expected.
After working the room, the two couples sat down together at a corner booth in the rear of the restaurant to eat breakfast. Obama ordered two eggs over medium, a waffle, bacon and orange juice. Michelle had french toast. Biden had french toast and Jill had scrambled eggs and toast. The Obamas drank orange juice while the Bidens drank coffee. (Some Obama trivia for you: the senator has previously said he long ago gave up caffeine.)
Obama walked over to co-owner Phillip Raptis, age 57, part way through to attempt to pay the bill. Taking a wad of cash out of his pocket, Obama went back and forth with Raptis trying to pay the bill, with Raptis at one point pushing away Obama's hand (and the cash in it.) Raptis never did take the money but Obama later told broadcast pooler Sunlen Miller of ABC that his staff would settle the bill.
Herb Washington stopped by the Obama-Biden booth while they were eating. He's a Boardman, Ohio, resident and a McDonalds franchise owner who hosted a fundraiser for Obama last June. Washington was wearing golf clothes. Standing next to him, Biden said "I've got my clubs with me. Guys, I'm sorry, I'm going with him." Biden said, "I'm playing like an 18 now," apparently talking about his handicap. Washington later said that Biden wanted shots. He said Biden told him his handicap was in the single digits (he either wasn't sure or didn't want to say the number specifically) and that Biden told him being on the ticket isn't good for the handicap. Washington said he bought his second McDonalds from Michelle Obama's uncle.
"I think it's a great ticket," he said. "It was always my hope he would pick Senator Biden because of his foreign relations experience and his experience in the Senate. I caution folks, do not underestimate (opponent Republican John) McCain."
The Obama campaign launched a 30-second ad on cable TV arguing that Republican John McCain’s choice of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as his running mate is merely meant to distract from the fact McCain would be a continuation of President Bush’s policies. “So, while this may be his running-mate,” the announcer says with a photo of McCain and Palin on the screen, “America knows this is John McCain’s agenda.” The visual switches to McCain with Bush. “We can’t afford four more years of the same.”
August 29, 2008
If the reception he's getting in Beaver, Pa., is any indication, Joe Biden may well give Barack Obama some of that boost he wants in this big swing state. The crowd - estimated at more than 8,000 by the local police chief - went wild at an outdoor rally here tonight in western Pennsylvania when the Democratic nominee's running mate, a Pennsylvania native, was introduced tonight and told them, "My name's Joe Biden. I'm from Scranton, Pa." and said support from steelworkers was key to his first election as Delaware senator in 1972. Obama and Biden were an hour late to the Beaver event. It was their first rally since formally accepting the nomination at the Democratic National Convention - although earlier in the day they'd stopped jointly in the Pittsburgh area to tour a business and to get ice cream. Obama drew lots of applause from this crowd when he said "Let's face it, John McCain's not going to bring change." He didn't mention McCain's choosing a woman as his running mate. "I need Pennsylvania," Obama told the crowd. "I need Beaver, Pa." Leo Girard, international president of the United Steelworkers of America, who warmed up the crowd for Obama and Biden, told everybody that McCain running mate Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin's husband was a member of the Steelworkers union. But he said, "Being the wife of a steel worker doesn't necessarily qualify you for president."
In the most direct and pointed assault on John McCain's age, the left Saturday sent an ominous message: McCain is very old, he might die, and vice presidential running mate Sarah Palin's too inexperienced to become president.
"On his 72nd birthday, Sen. McCain has chosen a VP based on her political currency rather than her ability to lead our country in a crisis," said Eli Pariser, executive director of the liberal group Moveon.org.
"If John McCain wins in November, he'll be the oldest president in US history and Sarah Palin would be a heartbeat away from being our commander in chief."
The error notwithstanding _ Ronald Reagan was older in his second term _ McCain would be the oldest man ever elected to a first term. It's an issue that has long simmered beneath the surface and one which voters often mention. But until now, political groups had not launched such a pointed effort to use it against McCain.
Rep. Rahm Emanuel, D-Il., the chairman of the House Democratic caucus, also went right at McCain's age.
"After trying to make experience the issue of this campaign, John McCain celebrated his 72nd birthday by appointing a former small town mayor and brand new Governor as his Vice Presidential nominee." he said Saturday.
"Is this really who the Republican Party wants to be one heartbeat away from the Presidency?"
Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., the chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, picked up the refrain:
"On his birthday, Sen. McCain chose a running mate who simply has no track record of exercising good judgment on national security and foreign policy issues to be one heart beat away from the presidency," Van Hollen said.
Ellen Malcolm, the president of EMILY's List, which supports Democratic women candidates who support abortion rights, also raised McCain's age in criticizing the choice of Palin, who is 44.
"How ironic that, on his 72nd birthday, McCain has raised the question of whether his running mate is prepared to be commander in chief and lead the country," Malcolm said.
Former Republican Party of Florida chairman Al Cardenas -- a big Mitt Romney fan -- says you "couldn't script a better person" than John McCain's pick for veep, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin.
"She's the governor of a western state, a young woman, a professional and a mother of 5 who took on corruption," he said. "She'll be tough to beat -- you can't accomplish more than she has at a young age."
As for her inexperience, he likened her to a "rookie quarterback in the NFL.
"Let's hope she turns out to be like Dan Marino," the Miami Dolphins star quarterback, he said, "If she's able to able to handle the intensity, the bright lights, it'll be seen as the most brilliant political move."
If not? "We'll find out quick enough," he said. "We'll get a good sense this coming week."
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- Final Illinois results show big Romney win as candidates move on
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- Entire National Mall to be open for Obama inaguration
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