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click on each candidate to see today's news stories (caricatures by Linda Eddy)

Tuesday, August 12, 2008


Georgia conflict tests McCain, Obama on foreign policy

The violence between Russia and Georgia quickly thrust foreign policy into the U.S. presidential election, with John McCain standing to benefit and Barack Obama facing a more perilous situation.

The conflict was soon cast as "a 3 a.m. moment" -- a reference to Sen. Hillary Clinton's argument during the Democratic primary that Sen. Obama was unprepared for a middle-of-the-night phone call on a foreign-policy crisis.

McCain condemnation upstages Bush

It took four days and a growing chorus of criticism from conservatives before George W. Bush on Monday matched John McCain’s tough stance on Russia. Having on Monday morning again been upstaged by the Republican presidential candidate, who had called for the US administration to come together with its allies in “universal condemnation of Russian aggression” in Georgia, Mr Bush finally followed suit.



Hillary Clinton to headline second night of convention

The former first lady will speak on the second night, Tuesday, Aug. 26 — the 88th anniversary of the women's right to vote. The campaign and convention committee in a statement called her "a champion for working families and one of the most effective and empathetic voices in the country today."

The Obama campaign is trying to avoid hard feelings among Clinton's supporters at their carefully orchestrated convention. But they still haven't reached a deal on whether Clinton will be included in the roll call vote for the nomination, which could make the party appear divided heading into the final stretch of the White House race.

Plans for Clinton convention rallies intensify

Frustrated supporters of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (N.Y.) are planning multiple rallies at the Democratic convention in Denver, coupled with television and print advertisements.

The disenchanted Democrats want to express their disappointment with the party’s presidential primary process. 

The Denver Group, formed a couple of months ago by two Clinton backers, says it has filmed a television commercial and is looking to air it soon. The fledgling group adds that it has received such a strong response to its scheduled Aug. 26 reception in Denver that it had to book an overflow room.

Meanwhile, another pro-Clinton group called “18 Million Voices” is organizing a march on Aug. 26 in Denver...








John McCain... today's headlines with excerpts

For a week McCain has trail to himself

As Senator Barack Obama headed off for a vacation in Hawaii last week, Senator John McCain was left in the continental United States with the Iowa State Fair to himself. Mr. McCain’s campaign promised to take full advantage this week of Mr. Obama’s absence — for starters, Mr. McCain was scathing about his rival in his weekend radio address — but up close and personal, Mr. McCain sounded as though he would not mind some August beach time himself...

McCain aide portrays Obama as in sync with the Kremlin

... McCain's campaign also attacked Mr. Obama's camp for making an issue of lobbying work conducted for the Georgian government by a top McCain foreign policy adviser, Randy Scheunemann. A McCain spokesman, Tucker Bounds, said the criticism of Mr. Scheunemann was "disgraceful" and "bizarrely in sync with the Kremlin."...

see also:

As Russia goes to war, McCain camp seeks benefit

McCain advisor was lobbyist for Georgia

John McCain's top foreign-policy adviser, Randy Scheunemann, is a leading expert on U.S.-allied Georgia -- and was a paid lobbyist for the former Soviet republic until March, in the run-up to what has become a major battle between Georgia and Russia.

Democratic rival Barack Obama's presidential campaign was quick to try to paint Mr. Scheunemann's dual roles as a conflict of interest after Sen. McCain swiftly took Georgia's side in the dispute, and cited it as evidence that Sen. McCain is "ensconced in a lobbyist culture," as Obama spokesman Hari Sevugan told reporters over the weekend.

But given the rapid escalation of the fighting, and the fact that Georgia is being viewed as a victim of its neighbor's aggression, Mr. Scheunemann's ties to the small nation and its pro-Western Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili may look less like a weakness and more like a strength in the first foreign-policy crisis of the general election campaign.






Barack Obama... today's headlines with excerpts

New Obama book coming this fall

The Book will hit stores on Sept. 9, just as the fall campaign is heating up.
"Change We Can Believe In: Barack Obama's Plan to Renew America's Promise” includes a campaign photo album from the road, a collection of seven of the hit speeches by Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.), and new essays outlining his policy proposals.

Since everything Obama is selling well these days, that means the senator's picture and policies will be in the front of most bookstores in America throughout the heart of the general-election campaign.



Obama finally responds to Celebrity ad with Bush rap

Either Obama's campaign didn't quite know how to respond or didn't initially think it necessary to push back against McCain's "Celebrity" rap.

But now, two weeks later, they're going on the air seeking to turn the attack around on the Republican, calling McCain "Washington's biggest celebrity."

It was an attack first signaled yesterday by Bill Richardson, who trotted out the phrase on "This Week."

The idea seems clear: paint McCain as a creature of a capital that is held in even worse esteem now than it usually is.

Obama's 'no income tax on seniors' draws critics

If you're a senior citizen and earn less than $50,000 a year, Barack Obama has a deal for you: a life free of federal income tax.

Sounds appealing, right? Maybe to many seniors. But tax policy experts in Washington are giving it bad reviews. They see it as another subsidy for senior citizens, who already get federal help through Social Security and Medicare and often have economic advantages over other demographic groups...

7 worrisome signs for Obama

two weeks prior to the national convention there are more than a few worrisome signs for Obama. Here are seven:

1. Race. ...A huge challenge for Obama, insiders say, is simply determining how much skin color will matter in November. Race is nearly impossible to poll — no one ever says “I’m a racist” — and no campaign wants it revealed they are even asking questions on the issue.

2. Obama’s strength in Virginia may be overhyped...

3. Michigan’s in play for McCain...

4. Bad times could be good for McCain...

5. ...Former Georgia Rep. Bob Barr, staging an indie bid from McCain’s right, has little cash and doesn’t seem to be a factor in competitive states.

6. The Legacy of LBJ, Jimmy and Bubba. Barack Obama would have been a trailblazer no matter what —but the Democrats’ trail to the White House has been remarkably narrow since 1960, accommodating only Southern whites with border-state strength: Lyndon Johnson, Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton. (Add Al Gore if you’re counting the popular vote.)

7. Americans may want divided government. Some Democratic operatives think a possible landslide for their party in congressional races could backfire on Obama.


Democrats stay brave in the face of potential Clinton challenge at convention

While Hillary and Bill Clinton have both scored plum speaking spots on two separate nights during the Democratic National Convention in Denver in two weeks, party operatives are still trying to find the appropriate role for the former president and first lady in the crowning of Barack Obama as the party’s presidential nominee.

The Clintons have not made it easy for Obama to assume the role of the Democratic Party’s newest leader. After a grueling and record-long campaign season against Hillary Clinton, who remains a New York senator for now, Obama and his campaign have had to make sure both Clintons fall into line and don’t undermine his chances at the presidency.

see also: Hillary Clinton, Michelle Obama get prime time slots



Obama cites deficit, Iraqi surplus;
McCain touts drilling

... Obama, delivering the Democratic party's weekly radio address, said a projected federal budget shortfall of almost $500 billion while Iraq has a surplus are "stark examples of exactly what's wrong with Washington, and what's at stake in this election.''

McCain:... "America is finally winning in Iraq, and he wants to forfeit,'' McCain said in his weekly radio address. "Government is too big, and he wants to grow it. Taxes are too high, and he wants to raise them.''

"Congress spends too much, and he proposes more. We need more energy, and he's against producing it.''

McCain said Obama's energy proposals are "timid'' and don't include a plan for offshore drilling.

"He pledges a vague willingness to possibly consider limited drilling as part of some hypothetical compromise at an undetermined date,'' McCain said. ``Careful listeners are still waiting for an actual commitment to offshore drilling.''

"I say yes to drilling, here and now,'' McCain said.


McCain, Obama Florida machines get cranking

The worry by Florida Republicans is justified 90 days out from election day, with the huge Obama operation under way here. It's also probably premature, given signs that the GOP machine is revving up with more canvassing events and phone banks like the one where Riley works.

But with well over 200 full-time staffers in Florida — four times as many as McCain and the Republicans — and some 150,000 Florida volunteers registered online, Obama is building a Democratic campaign machine that could finally challenge the GOP's mastery of ground-game tactics.


Evangelicals seek to put their stamp on '08 campaign

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (R) and top evangelical leaders will join forces next week to amplify issues such as abortion, same-sex marriage and stem-cell research in the race for the White House.

Huckabee, Family Research Council President Tony Perkins, and Lou Engle, the leader of The Call, a young adult movement, plan to hold a news conference Friday calling on Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Barack Obama (D-Ill.) to spend more time talking about issues that matter to evangelical voters.

The press conference will be followed by a day of fasting and prayer on the national mall organized by The Call. Engle said thousands of evangelicals from across the country are expected to attend.

The event will take place Aug. 16, the same day McCain and Obama will make their first joint general election campaign appearance.


Edwards' mistress shuns paternity test

The ex-mistress of former presidential candidate John Edwards says she will not participate in DNA testing to establish the paternity of her daughter.

Rielle Hunter's lawyer, Robert Gordon, on Saturday said his client is a private individual who wishes to maintain the privacy of herself and her daughter.

Mr. Gordon said that Ms. Hunter is ruling out any kind of testing that could establish who the girl's father is.








John McCain... today's headlines with excerpts

McCain VP buzz about Tom Ridge

Sen. John McCain spends the next two days campaigning through Pennsylvania with the state’s former Gov. Tom Ridge at his side.

Anytime McCain appears with someone that might be on his vice presidential shortlist, it stirs up a whole new round of speculation. And as Pennsylvania is a key battleground state, Ridge is getting plenty of attention.

Ridge, a former Homeland Security Secretary, grew up in Erie and begin his political career in the northwest Pennsylvania city where the McCain tour begins.

McCain prescient on Russia?

When violence broke out in the Caucasus on Friday morning, John McCain quickly issued a statement that was far more strident toward the Russians than that of President Bush, Barack Obama and much of the West.

But, as Russian warplanes pounded Georgian targets far beyond South Ossetia this weekend, Bush, Obama and others have moved closer to McCain's initial position.

... McCain aides feel encouraged that their candidate appeared to get it right first, and they are now working to remind reporters that he's long been wary of Putin's Russia.

Pushing the prescience line, aides are circulating a pair of YouTube clips from 1999 and 2000 that feature some tough talk from McCain about the new Kremlin regime.

McCain: Russia needs to reverse its 'perilous course'

“Russia should immediately and unconditionally cease its military operations and withdraw all forces from sovereign Georgian territory. What is most critical now is to avoid further confrontation between Russian and Georgian military forces. The consequences of Euro-Atlantic stability and security are grave,” McCain said.  “The government of Georgia has called for a cease fire and for a resumption of direct talks on South Ossetia with international mediators. The U.S. should immediately convene an emergency session of the United Nations Security Council to call on Russia to reverse course. The U.S. should immediately work with the E.U. and the OSCE to put diplomatic pressure on Russia to reverse this perilous course that it has chosen.”

McCain takes no vacation from pummeling Obama

John McCain is taking no vacation from pummeling his Democratic opponent, accusing Barack Obama on Saturday of being unfit for command just as the Illinois senator began his weeklong holiday in Hawaii.

The Arizona senator used his weekly radio address and a speech before the Disabled American Veterans in Las Vegas to drive home that point.

He told the veterans’ organization that Obama is shifting positions on Iraq and criticized Obama for saying in July that he would have still opposed the troop surge if he could do it again.

“Behind all of these claims and positions by Senator Obama lies the ambition to be president,” McCain said. “What’s missing is the judgment to be commander in chief.”





Barack Obama... today's headlines with excerpts

Analysis: Obama tax plan would balloon deficit

On the campaign trail, Sen. Barack Obama bashes President Bush for "reckless" economic policies that are "mortgaging our children's future on a mountain of debt." But the Democratic presidential candidate has adopted a key component of Bush's fiscal policy: A novel bookkeeping method that guarantees that the $9.5 trillion national debt will get much bigger...

Obama shifts affirmative action rhetoric

No Democratic candidate for president has ever come so close to calling for an end to the era of identity-based affirmative action as has Barack Obama.

Since 2004, the first black major party nominee from either party has been offering comments suggesting that economic status should match or even trump race and gender as a criteria for who should benefit from the program — though he has yet to propose a specific policy, let alone one that matches his rhetoric.

After four decades of affirmative action, Obama’s historic candidacy itself is seen by some as proof that such programs are no longer needed.

Obama in home state of Hawaii this week

Barack Obama today went for an early morning a jog along a Windward side beach, then played a round of golf on the second day of his Hawaii visit, which he has said is primarily a vacation and to spend time with family.

After a first day that included a rally in front of about 4,000 people at Ke'ehi Beach Lagoon Park, Obama's second day did not have any public events.

Inquiry in Ohio could hurt Obama vote

A federal investigation of Democratic Party leaders in Cuyahoga County could pose problems for Barack Obama’s campaign in Ohio, party insiders and political analysts say.

If the party’s local campaign operation suffers, some Democrats said, it could cost Mr. Obama votes in a Democratic area where he must win overwhelmingly to offset Republican strength elsewhere in the state.

Growing diversity in swing counties benefits Obama

Minority Americans have been flocking to the nation's "swing counties," hotly contested areas that could play a crucial role in this year's election.

That's got to be good news for Barack Obama, bidding to become the first black president.

Blacks and Hispanics are moving to counties that already were racially diverse, such as Osceola in central Florida and Mecklenberg in North Carolina, home to Charlotte. They also are moving to key counties that remain predominantly white, such as Lake in Northeast Ohio, Lehigh in eastern Pennsylvania and Oakland outside Detroit.




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