Iowa... Where Presidents Begin

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

Wednesday, June 11, 2008


Tax clash

John McCain and Barack Obama clashed over tax cuts Tuesday as they continued to make their way through states that will be up for grabs in November.

Obama would raise taxes on incomes, estates, capital gains and dividends, McCain told a convention of small-business owners here.

... Obama has said he would seek a $1,000 tax credit for working families and that only people making more than $250,000 a year would face higher taxes if he's elected.

The Illinois senator and presumptive Democratic nominee added that McCain's proposed tax cuts create $300 billion "in tax breaks and loopholes for big corporations, and for the wealthiest Americans, and he hasn't even explained how to pay for it."

see also: McCain and Obama sling mortgage mud - both accuse the other of ties to sub-prime loan industry


Battle of the First Wives heats up

Since Barack Obama's campaign against John McCain has started, Michelle Obama is stepping forward to engage in the other great contest of every presidential race: the first wives' battle.

Mrs. Obama was originally invited to be a guest on the show, but since Cindy McCain had presented the same talk show called 'The View' in April, she said that she would prefer to co-host the program to have more of a chance to display her complete personality, said Bill Geddie, The View's executive producer.

"Equal time, that's hard to argue with," he added. Mrs. Obama will present the show on June 18 ...


Limbaugh shows Obama stumbles without prompter

"I've constantly noted, ladies and gentlemen, you take the prompter and the written speeches away from Barack Obama, and you have nothing. You have nothing like the guy with the soaring rhetoric and the inspiring and sermon-like quality," Limbaugh said.



Those loyal to Clintons take note of those who were not

Several names and entities are common among various list makers. The lineup invariably begins with A-list members like Gov. Bill Richardson of New Mexico; Representative James E. Clyburn of South Carolina, the House Democratic whip; Gregory B. Craig, Mr. Clinton’s lawyer in his impeachment and trial; David Axelrod, Mr. Obama’s chief strategist; Senator Claire McCaskill of Missouri; and several Kennedys. Some members of the Democratic Party’s rules committee, the state of Iowa and the caucus system in general are also near the top.

The news media have already focused on some list entries, including the online gossip purveyor Matt Drudge (who had the nerve to show up at Mrs. Clinton’s departure speech on Saturday), Todd S. Purdum of Vanity Fair (the author of a recent profile of Mr. Clinton) and the cable network MSNBC (whose hosts Chris Matthews and Keith Olbermann are charter list members, Clinton associates said).

see also: Katie Couric: "I feel that Sen. Clinton received some of the most unfair, hostile coverage I've ever seen."



Ron Paul to rival convention

Representative Ron Paul, the Republican presidential candidate, will be the main attraction at the Twin Cities confab. No, not the Republican National Convention fewer than eight miles away at the XCel Center, but at his own party, to be held on the second day of the event that will seal Senator John McCain as the G.O.P. nominee.

“This isn’t a protest,” said Jesse Benton, the libertarian-leaning Republican’s spokesman. “This is a celebration of limited government and Republican principles.”


President Bush regrets his legacy as man who wanted war

In an exclusive interview, he expressed regret at the bitter divisions over the war and said that he was troubled about how his country had been misunderstood. “I think that in retrospect I could have used a different tone, a different rhetoric.”

Phrases such as “bring them on” or “dead or alive”, he said, “indicated to people that I was, you know, not a man of peace”. He said that he found it very painful “to put youngsters in harm’s way”. He added: “I try to meet with as many of the families as I can. And I have an obligation to comfort and console as best as I possibly can. I also have an obligation to make sure that those lives were not lost in vain.”

see also: Bush: 'All options' open on Iran







John McCain... today's headlines with excerpts

McCain says gas prices won't drop

Record high prices for gasoline probably won't drop before the November election, Republican John McCain...

McCain bashes Obama economic plan

John McCain came back at Barack Obama over the economy on Tuesday, telling a small business convention that the Democrat's plans would amount to the largest business tax hike since World War II.

"Under Sen. Obama's tax plan, Americans of every background would see their taxes rise … seniors, parents, small business owners, and just about everyone who has even a modest investment in the market," said McCain, the presumptive GOP presidential nominee.

McCain won't appear with Cheney

They have clashed publicly and privately during the Bush years on matters ranging from the treatment of terrorist detainees to former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. Most recently, they’ve been on opposite sides on the idea of a gas tax holiday and on a Cheney-backed energy bill.

As a result, Cheney finds himself on the outside looking in, without a clear role to play in one of the most consequential campaigns in history and one where his signature foreign policy legacy is on the line.

... “I don’t think the McCain people want Cheney anywhere near him,” said a former Cheney aide.

Veep talk swirls around Romney

The buzz is growing around the possibility of Mitt Romney landing on the ticket with GOP presidential contender John McCain, and one of the voices backing such a move is Romney’s predecessor as Bay State governor, Paul Cellucci.

“Certainly Mitt Romney is on the short list, and he should be,” said Cellucci, who originally supported New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani in the presidential sweepstakes.

McCain gave his most ringing endorsement yet of Romney’s chances of being tapped as his vice presidential candidate during a fund-raiser Monday, saying, “There’s nobody who represents me better today than Mitt Romney.”

McCain opens fundraiser to media

Republican John McCain reversed course Monday and allowed the media into three private fundraisers, including an event where he chided Democratic rival Barack Obama for his reluctance to agree to a series of joint town-hall meetings.

The $10,000-per-ticket reception for the presumed Republican nominee, the national party and several state parties marked the first time McCain, a champion of open government, had allowed reporters into his fundraisers. The four-term Arizona senator had kept such events off limits to the news media for months with little or no explanation.

McCain targets Florida Cubans with new radio spot

John McCain is once again reaching out to Hispanic voters on the radio, this time targeting Cuban-Americans in South Florida in a 60-second radio ad voiced by Roberto Martin Perez, who was imprisoned by the Cuban government for 24 years, until his exile in 1988.

... In the ad, Martin Perez relates his decades as a political prisoner in Castro's Cuba to McCain's half decade as a prisoner of war in Vietnam.

Jewish Dem donor joins McCain team

Sen. John McCain is attracting elite Jewish Democratic donors who backed Sen. Hillary Clinton and are concerned about Sen. Barack Obama's stance toward Israel, say McCain backers who are organizing the effort to court Democrats.

... Stephen Muss, the Florida developer, is the biggest Democratic donor and fundraiser to pledge his support for McCain and the Republican National Committee, said a GOP official. Muss has given tens of thousands of dollars to help Democratic candidates in recent years, including $80,000 to the Democratic National Committee (DNC) in 2000, according to the Center for Responsive Politics and CQ MoneyLine.




Barack Obama... today's headlines with excerpts

Is Obama's candidacy constitutional? Secrecy over birth certificate, demand for 'natural-born' citizenship cited

Bloggers are raising questions about Illinois Sen. Barack Obama's qualifications to be U.S. president, because of the secrecy over his birth certificate and the requirement presidents be "natural-born" U.S. citizens.

Jim Geraghty, reporting on the Campaign Spot, a National Review blog, cited the "unlikely" but still circulating rumor that Obama was born not within the United States, but elsewhere, possibly Kenya.

Geraghty defined the concerns most clearly, stating: "If Obama were born outside the United States, one could argue that he would not meet the legal definition of natural-born citizen … because U.S. law at the time of his birth required his natural-born parent (his mother) to have resided in the United States for '10 years, at least [five of which had to be after the age of 16.'"

He then points out Ann Dunham, Obama's mother, was 18 when Obama was born "so she wouldn't have met the requirement of five years after the age of 16."

Obama admits he's smoking again

Senator Barack Obama told reporters in St. Louis today that he has fallen off the wagon and smoked cigarettes in the last few months.

Watch the VIDEO HERE.

Obama VP pool - Strickland removes himself

Ted Strickland, the popular Democratic governor of Ohio, was anything but coy about whether he would accept such an invitation. “Absolutely not,” Mr. Strickland said on the NPR program “All Things Considered.”

One name that dropped into circulation on Capitol Hill is that of Gen. James L. Jones, a retired former commandant of the Marines and supreme commander of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, according to a Democrat who met with Mr. Obama’s search team. Some Democrats believe that Mr. Obama could use someone with national security credentials.

see also: Obama considering former military leaders for veep

Maureen Dowd: Mincing up Michelle

It’s good news for Obama that Hillary’s out of the race. But it’s also bad news. Now Republicans can turn their full attention to demonizing Michelle Obama. Mrs. Obama is the new, unwilling contestant in Round Two of the sulfurous national game of “Kill the witch.”

... Team Obama is hoping for the best. When she’s on her game, after all, Michelle is a knockout. And as one Obama booster enthuses: “Michelle’s story is a lot more mainstream American than Cindy McCain inheriting a brewery.”

Obama: no vetting the vetters

Senator Barack Obama on Tuesday defended the head of his vice-presidential search committee, James A. Johnson, who received loans on favorable terms from Countrywide Financial, one of the nation’s largest mortgage lenders.

... “This is a game that can be played, everybody who is tangentially related to our campaign is going to have a whole host of relationships,” Obama said, responding to criticism of Mr. Johnson’s ties to Countrywide from Senator John McCain and the Republican National Committee. “I’d have to hire a vetter to vet the vetters.”

Christian leaders meet for private discussion with Obama

Barack Obama discussed Darfur, the Iraq war, gay rights, abortion and other issues Tuesday with Christian leaders, including a conservative who has been criticized for praising the Democratic presidential candidate.

Bishop T.D. Jakes, a prominent black clergyman who heads a Dallas megachurch, said Obama took questions, listened to participants and discussed his "personal journey of faith."

The discussion "went absolutely everywhere," Jakes told The Associated Press, and "just about every Christian stripe was represented in that room."

New PAC seeks to court Christians for Obama

Called “The Matthew 25 Network,” the new organization, which is still in its earliest stages, is being spearheaded by Mara Vanderslice, who was director of religious outreach for the Kerry-Edwards campaign in 2004 ...

Democratic leaders rally for Obama

Top Democratic leaders rallied for Barack Obama at Democratic National Committee headquarters on Tuesday, seeking to put the long and divisive primary battle behind them and focus on defeating Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) in the fall.

“I'm confident in the strength of our party as we work to elect Barack Obama our next president…and win seats up and down the ticket,” said DNC Chairman Howard Dean.

Democrats turned out in full force to support their presumptive nominee, led by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada, Democratic Governors’ Association Chairman Joe Manchin of West Virginia and dozens of top congressional Democrats.

Dean acknowledged there were some “ugly moments” throughout the primary campaign, twice mentioning “sexist comments by members of the media,” but declined to offer any specifics.

The DNC chairman made a point of calling Clinton supporter Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) to the podium, to show that the party was united after a heated primary battle.

Jennifer Lopez slips into Sen. Obama's office

Singer and actress Jennifer Lopez slipped into the Hart Senate Office Building on Wednesday afternoon for a mysterious meeting inside presumptive Democratic nominee Sen. Barack Obamas (Ill.) office.

The Hollywood star, sporting a black cocktail dress and carrying an orange handbag, surprised staffers when she was spotted walking through the Hart atrium and taking the elevator to Obamas seventh-floor office.

When asked what brought her to the Hill, Lopez smiled.

Im not ready to do any press yet, she said, her eyes hidden behind a pair of big, black sunglasses.

Obama, Scarlett Johansson: email buddies

Sultry actress Scarlett Johansson finds it "amazing" that Barack Obama has the time to answer her adoring e-mails. But he does, often, with fan messages of his own to the 23-year-old film star...

The New York-born knockout told she has swapped friendly e-mails with the Democratic presidential hopeful for months.

Obama campaign plans fundraisers in China

Next week, the Obama campaign will hold two fundraising events in China.

The candidate himself won't be making an appearance. Instead, guests at the Bejing home of David Brooks, a Coca Cola executive there, will hear from two senior foreign policy fellows from the Brookings Institution who advise the Obama campaign, Ivo Daalder and Phil Gordon. If the June 17 appearance does not satisfy, American expatriates in China can hear the two foreign policy experts opine at an event on June 19 in Shanghai hosted by Ted Hornbein, an executive a Richco, a company that manufactures electronic components for cell phones and the like.

No rules prohibit fundraising abroad, so long as the donors are American citizens...



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