CHASING THE PRESIDENT: Today on the trail

By The Associated Press IN THE HEADLINES
Sandusky Register Staff
May 24, 2010

 

By The Associated Press

IN THE HEADLINES

-- As Hurricane Ike lashes Texas, Obama cancels on 'SNL' and asks supporters to help the victims

-- Moose-hunting Republican from Palin's hometown casts crucial vote to subpoena her husband

-- Palin's return to Alaska brings reality of national campaign, stirs opinions back home

-- Once a Clinton critic, Palin heaps praise on her and says Obama must regret not choosing her ... Hunter Biden, son of veep candidate, quits work as federal lobbyist

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Obama scales back campaign events in Ike's wake

MANCHESTER, N.H.

Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama asked his supporters Saturday to help with recovery from Hurricane Ike and canceled his plans to crack jokes on ''Saturday Night Live'' in the aftermath of the storm.

Obama didn't put aside his differences with Republican rival John McCain. In an outdoor rally attended by thousands, he discussed the ''quiet storms that are taking place throughout America'' as people lose their jobs, health care and pensions, and he argued that McCain is out of touch with those struggles.

Obama had been slated to appear in a skit on the NBC comedy show's season premiere, hosted by Olympic champion swimmer Michael Phelps. Campaign spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Obama decided it was no longer appropriate because of the devastation in Texas.

Obama and running mate Joe Biden had planned to campaign together at the rally in Manchester's Veteran's Memorial Park. But the campaign decided to scale back the event as the storm battered the Gulf Coast and canceled Biden's appearance.

Obama asked people to keep the victims in their thoughts and prayers and be ready to help volunteer or donate to relief efforts.

''During times of need, we are all in it together, and it doesn't matter if we are Democrats or Republicans, black, white, Hispanic or Asian, we are there for each other in times of need,'' he said. ''You will help them, I have confidence.''

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Senator from Palin's town cast crucial subpoena vote

ANCHORAGE, Alaska

The crucial vote to subpoena Gov. Sarah Palin's husband was cast by a moose-hunting Republican from her own hometown.

Sen. Charlie Huggins, the vice chairman of the Alaska Legislature's Senate Judiciary Committee, wore camouflage pants to Friday's hearing, but they didn't help him blend in among the coats, ties and dress shirts of other lawmakers and national news correspondents.

As the other two Republicans and the two Democrats on the panel argued over the ramifications of issuing subpoenas to Todd Palin and a dozen other people, Huggins held his cards, as well as his fire. When he finally spoke, he made clear -- in folksy, plainspoken words -- that he'd had enough of the political maneuvering.

Not to mention the suggestion of his Republican colleague Sen. Gene Therriault that the investigation had been hijacked by supporters of Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama.

''I do not support Sen. Obama,'' the anti-abortion conservative thundered at the start of his remarks.

He went on to make an impassioned plea for government transparency and honesty in this ''new era'' of Alaska politics. A number of lawmakers, including U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens, have been indicted or convicted in a wide-ranging federal corruption probe.

''I see all this duck-foot action under the water,'' he said, referring to back-room discussions about the investigation. ''Let's just get the facts on the table. The sooner the better.''

The final vote was 3-2. The House Judiciary Committee also approved the subpoenas on an advisory vote.

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Hometown sees change with Palin's new role

WASILLA, Alaska

Ben Harrell waited for Gov. Sarah Palin to stop by at his Mocha Moose coffee house like she does most days she's back home. But things are different now when she's in town.

Now she's the Republican vice presidential candidate, with U.S. Coast Guard boats parked in the middle of Lucille Lake watching her nearby home and state troopers guarding the access road leading to her property.

Harrell thought Palin would stop in Friday anyway to order her regular -- a skinny white chocolate mocha. She's still Sarah, after all, even if her life has been turned upside down by Sen. John McCain's presidential campaign.

''You'll never see another Sarah Palin. It's just who she is,'' said Harrell, 56, who has owned the coffee house for 15 years. ''She'll be coming in. I can almost guarantee it.''

Palin's return this week to Alaska has brought the reality of her national campaign with McCain for the White House home to the people who know her best.

To some, she is the same tough political fighter they've watched for more than a decade, a woman prepared for any adventure. And that makes her a true Alaskan in their eyes.

This is the state after all that Palin herself said this week has a special distinction -- ''Alaska: where men are men and women win the Iditarod,'' she told supporters at a welcome rally.

''People in the lower 48 have to know how we live up here, what makes her who she is,'' said Nikki Shanigan, a 55-year-old oil field worker from Wasilla. ''It takes a lot to live up here. If you're not born into it, the cold and the dark, you can't handle it. It takes a strong person.''

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Palin says Obama regrets bypassing Clinton

NEW YORK

Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin said Friday she thinks Barack Obama regrets not making Hillary Rodham Clinton his running mate.

Palin praised Clinton's ''determination, and grit and even grace'' during the Democratic primaries, sounding an altogether different note than when she suggested earlier this year that the New York senator was whining about negative press coverage and campaigning in a way that was not advancing the cause of women in politics.

''I think he's regretting not picking her now,'' Palin told ABC News.

Her comment brought a sharp rejoinder from Democratic Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, on behalf of the Obama campaign: ''Sarah Palin should spare us the phony sentiment and respect. Governor Palin accused Senator Clinton of whining.''

Palin, in the second part of her first major interview since she joined the GOP ticket, also defended the nearly $200 million in federal pet projects she sought as Alaska governor this year even as John McCain told a television audience she had never requested them.

Palin was confronted in the interview with two claims that have been a staple of her reputation since joining McCain: that she was opposed to federal earmarks, even though her request for such special spending projects for 2009 was the highest per capita figure in the nation; and that she opposed the $398 million Bridge to Nowhere linking Ketchikan to an island with 50 residents and an airport.

Palin actually turned against the bridge project only after it became a national symbol of wasteful spending and Congress had pulled money for it.

Palin told ABC's Charles Gibson that since she took office, the state had ''drastically'' reduced its efforts to secure earmarks and would continue to do so while she was governor.

''What I've been telling Alaskans for these years that I've been in office, is, no more,'' Palin said.

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Biden's son quits lobbying work

WASHINGTON

Democratic vice presidential nominee Joe Biden's son Hunter has stopped working as a federal lobbyist, work that had made him a Republican target in the presidential contest.

''I no longer expect to act as a federal lobbyist,'' Hunter Biden said in a letter to the Clerk of the House and the Senate Office of Public Records. The letter is dated Aug. 25 and was made public Friday.

Presidential candidate Barack Obama, who chose Biden as his running mate last month, has been a vocal critic of rival John McCain's ties to lobbyists. In a television ad Friday, Obama repeated criticisms of McCain for having current and former prominent lobbyists on his campaign staff.

Obama has refused to accept contributions from federal lobbyists, though some have advised his campaign.

Hunter Biden and his lobbying firm, Oldaker, Biden & Belair, have represented colleges and hospitals, mainly in an effort to secure money for them in appropriation bills. In June, however, Biden also signed on as a lobbyist for a law firm that represents a billionaire couple who run an Internet gambling business. The lobbying documents on file with the Senate Public Records Office show that Biden intended to lobby on the ''legality of internet gaming'' and the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act, which Congress passed in 2006.

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DAILY TRACK

An overwhelming advantage in experience and lopsided support from working-class and suburban whites have lifted Republican John McCain to a slender lead over Barack Obama less than two months from Election Day, a poll on the presidential race says. The Arizona senator has a 13-percentage-point lead over his Democratic rival both with men and senior citizens, and a 23-point advantage among rural residents, according to the Associated Press-GfK Poll of likely voters. He's also doing better than Obama at consolidating support from party loyalists: 94 percent of Republicans back McCain, while 83 percent of Democrats prefer the Illinois senator. Obama has good news, too. He's preferred two-to-one by those who say the nation's economy is in poor shape -- a strong position on an issue many surveys say is the public's top worry.

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THE DEMOCRATS

Barack Obama holds a rally in Manchester, N.H., before returning to Chicago for the weekend.

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THE REPUBLICANS

John McCain has no public schedule.

Sarah Palin holds a rally in Carson City, Nev.

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QUOTE OF THE DAY:

''People in the lower 48 have to know how we live up here, what makes her who she is. It takes a lot to live up here. If you're not born into it, the cold and the dark, you can't handle it. It takes a strong person.'' -- Nikki Shanigan, a 55-year-old oil field worker from Wasilla, Alaska.

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STAT OF THE DAY:

Barack Obama leads John McCain 61 percent to 35 percent among voters under age 30, according to an AP-GfK Poll of likely voters.

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Compiled by Merrill Hartson.