Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Barack Obama Ready for TV Barrage

Barack Obama is prepared to launch an unprecedented television blitz on Wednesday to push his economic message on US networks ranging from CBS and NBC to Comedy Central. Obama's television broadside may also force a 15 minute delay in the Fox network's broadcast of the fifth game of the World Series, the fiercely followed championship of Major League Baseball, coincidentally between teams from Pennsylvania and Florida, both major battlegrounds in the November 4 election.

His Republican rival John McCain plans to appear on CNN's "Larry King Live," hoping to convince viewers with his own vision of the country's future. Campaign officials said Obama would use the 30 minutes of primetime air time his campaign has purchased on several networks to focus on his message on the economy, which has taken center stage in his campaign.

"We want to make sure every voter heading into the voting booth knows exactly what Barack Obama would do to bring about fundamental change as president," campaign spokesman Bill Burton said.

A campaign official said the ad would include a video montage, footage of ordinary Americans telling their stories and some live portions of Obama, who is scheduled to be at a rally in Florida that evening. Obama, already blanketing the airwaves with political advertisements in many battleground states, has purchased the 1/2-hour slot on CBS, NBC and Fox.

The ad, which airs at 8 pm EDT, coincides with the anniversary of the October 29, 1929, "Black Tuesday" stock market crash that ushered in the Great Depression.

The cost has been estimated at close to $1 million for each major network slot and reflects the huge cash advantage Obama has over McCain.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Barack Obama Opening Up a Lead in Polls

Democrat Barack Obama continued to expand his lead this week as he now holds a 9 point lead over Republican John McCain according to an ABC News/Washington Post daily tracking poll. This comes with less than two weeks before the US Presidential Election on November 4th.

The poll of 1,321 likely voters found 53% favored Obama, compared with 44% for McCain. The poll, conducted Monday to Thursday, had a margin of error of 2.5percentage points. Obama's lead has ranged from 9 to 11 points in the tracking poll this week.

The findings were similar to a number of other polls. A Reuters/C-SPAN/Zogby poll released earlier on Friday showed Obama had a 10 point lead over McCain. The ABC News/Washington Post poll also found a decline in the popularity of Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin, who was now rated unfavorably by 51% of respondents.

Among respondents, 46% had a favorable view of the Alaska governor, down from 59% after the Republican convention in early September. Six in 10 likely voters said Palin lacked the experience to be an effective president.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

If We Are in a Recession Why are the Candidates Wasting Money Like This?

I don't think anyone will debate the fact that the United States, and the whole world basically, is mired in an economic downturn. Why then are our Presidential candidates wasting money like they are?

Republican Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin has been exposed recently for spending ridiculously on her wardrobe for the campaign trail. For someone who has presented herself as a maverick and a simple country girl/small town girl, these purchases are crazy. $75,000 spent a Neiman Marcus and $49,000 spent a Saks Fifth Avenue. Keep in mind that this was not her own money at work. It was campaign money.

Now Obama is making a trip to Hawaii to visit his grandmother. Of course I am sensitive to the fact that his grandmother is ill, but that doesnt give the right to spend campaign/taxpayer money to do it. Should he get a private 727 at our expense?

Just two more examples as to why our government is so far in debt.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

AP Poll Shows Presidential Race Tightening

An AP poll seems to show the presidential race tightening since the final debate, with John McCain gaining among whites and people earning less than $50,000. The poll shows McCain and Barack Obama essentially running even among likely voters in the election homestretch.

Obama came in at 44% and McCain 43%. Both Republicans and Democrats privately have said in recent days that the race narrowed after the third debate as GOP-leaning voters drifted home to their party and McCain's "Joe the plumber" analogy struck a chord.

Three weeks ago, an AP-GfK survey found that Obama had surged to a seven-point lead over McCain, lifted by voters who thought the Democrat was better suited to lead the nation through its sudden economic crisis. The contest is still volatile, and the split among voters is apparent less than two weeks before Election Day.

"I trust McCain more, and I do feel that he has more experience in government than Obama. I don't think Obama has been around long enough," said Angela Decker, 44, of La Porte, Ind.

But Karen Judd, 58, of Middleton, Wis., said, "Obama certainly has sufficient qualifications." She said any positive feelings about McCain evaporated with "the outright lying" in TV ads and his choice of running mate Sarah Palin, who "doesn't have the correct skills."

The new AP-GfK head to head result is a departure from some, but not all, recent national polls. Obama and McCain were essentially tied among likely voters in the latest George Washington University Battleground Poll, conducted by Republican strategist Ed Goeas and Democratic pollster Celinda Lake. In other surveys focusing on likely voters, a Washington Post-ABC News poll and a Wall Street Journal-NBC News survey have Obama up by 11 points, and a poll by the nonpartisan Pew Research Center has him leading by 14.

Polls are snapshots of highly fluid campaigns. In this case, there is a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5% points; that means Obama could be ahead by as many as 8 points or down by as many as 6. There are many reasons why polls differ, including methods of estimating likely voters and the wording of questions.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Colin Powell Endorses Barack Obama

Republican Colin Powell, who was President Bush's first secretary of state, endorsed Democrat Barack Obama for president Sunday and criticized the tone of Republican John McCain's campaign. The former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said either candidate, both of them senators, is qualified to be commander in chief. But he said Obama is better suited to handle the nation's economic problems as well as help improve its standing in the world.

"It isn't easy for me to disappoint Sen. McCain in the way that I have this morning, and I regret that," Powell, interviewed on NBC's "Meet the Press," said of his longtime friend, the Arizona senator.

But, he added: "I think we need a transformational figure. I think we need a president who is a generational change and that's why I'm supporting Barack Obama, not out of any lack of respect or admiration for Sen. John McCain."

Powell's endorsement has been much anticipated because he is a Republican with impressive foreign policy credentials, a subject on which Obama, a first-term senator from Illinois, is weak. Powell is a Republican centrist who is popular among moderate voters.

At the same time, Powell is a black man and Obama would be the nation's first black president. Powell said he was cognizant of the racial aspect of his endorsement, but said that was not the dominant factor in his decision. If it was, he said, he would have made the endorsement months ago.

Powell expressed disappointment in the negative tone of McCain's campaign, his choice of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as a running mate and McCain's and Palin's decision to focus in the closing weeks of the contest on Obama's ties to 1960s-era radical William Ayers. A co-founder of the Weather Underground, which claimed responsibility for nonfatal bombings during the Vietnam War-era, Ayers is now a college professor who lives in Obama's Chicago neighborhood. He and Obama also served together on civic boards in Chicago.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Gotta Brag About my Frogs!

Sorry just have to brag about my TCU Horned Frog football team a bit!

TCU 32 BYU 7

BYU will need a small miracle to reach the BCS. And maybe even just to win the Mountain West Conference. With an ironic twist of revenge, and a smothering defense, TCU made sure of that. Andy Dalton threw two touchdown passes in his return to the lineup, receiver Jeremy Kerley became a running threat and the Horned Frogs sacked Max Hall six times in a 32-7 victory Thursday night that snapped the 9th ranked Cougars' 16-game winning streak that was the longest in major college football.

"It just hurts. The BCS winning streak, when you get beat 30-something to seven, that stuff doesn't matter," BYU defensive lineman Jan Jorgensen said. "When you have high expectations like our team has and as hard as we worked to get better, it just feels horrible."

Sort of like how TCU felt two years ago when the Cougars were last visited Fort Worth, and ended the Frogs' 13-game winning streak that was then the nation's longest. BYU (6-1, 2-1 Mountain West) never had a chance this time. It wasn't even close, as TCU registered its biggest win ever over a Top Ten team.

"Nobody has been able to do that to BYU for a couple of years," TCU coach Gary Patterson said. "No way I could have seen it coming."

Even though TCU (7-1, 4-0) had been pointing to this game since January, when a BYU logo was placed on a blocking dummy in the team weight room. The Frogs scored on their first three drives, twice after turnovers by Hall, for a 17-0 lead, scoring as many points in 16 minutes as BYU had allowed its last 16 quarters. That four-game stretch for the Cougars included consecutive lopsided shutouts of UCLA and Wyoming.

"It's more disappointing than surprising," BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall said. "We knew they were a very good football team. But when you make mistakes like we made against a team like that, that simply is the result."

Hall, who had been sacked only twice over the first six games, was sacked four times before halftime. His fumble, when he was sacked for the first time, set up TCU's first touchdown and he threw an interception that led to another score. Hall finished 22-of-42 for 274 yards with two interceptions, and scored the only BYU touchdown when he scrambled to convert a fourth-and-goal from the 2 late in the third quarter. He had thrown 20 TDs with four picks before facing the Frogs.

With the first Bowl Championship Series standings coming out Sunday, the only undefeated team left in the Mountain West is No. 14 Utah (7-0), whose eight-game winning streak is tied with No. 3 Penn State and No. 7 Texas Tech for the longest in the country. The Utes obviously have the best chance to get into one of the major bowls since no BCS buster has ever lost in the regular season. But they still have to play TCU, which certainly can't be eliminated from that conversation since its only loss was at No. 4 Oklahoma.

"Our kids are going to be excited, I'm way excited," Patterson said, stopping to remind everyone that the Frogs' focus is on the conference title. "The bottom line is we have a lot of football to play."

Utah was the original BCS buster in 2004, then the following season came to TCU and had its 18-game winning streak snapped. Dalton, who missed the last two games with a knee injury, threw a 25-yard touchdown to Jimmy Young on his first pass. He added a 12-yarder to Walter Bryant just before halftime, the receiver making a nifty grab and getting a foot down in the back corner of the end zone, a catch confirmed by replay, for a 23-0 lead.

Dalton finished 12-of-19 for 170 yards and Kerley ran nine times for 77 yards. Jerry Hughes had four sacks for TCU and forced two fumbles. Austin Collie matched the MWC record with his fifth consecutive 100-yard receiving game (six catches for 116 yards) for the Cougars, who had also won 18 consecutive conference games, a streak that began with their 2006 victory at TCU.

On BYU's opening drive of the game, Daryl Washington dropped a possible interception near the 50 with a wide-open field to the end zone ahead of him. But two plays later, Hughes hit Hall from behind, stripping the ball and TCU recovered at the Cougars 40. The Frogs quickly went for the end zone. Dalton threw a pass that wasn't caught because of a pass interference penalty, then hit Young on the next play. Kerley scored on a 16-yard run, avoiding a BYU defender just past the line and then zigzagging through the middle of the field virtually untouched for a 14-0 lead, ending a 72-yard drive on which he also had 24-yard run.

"You want to come with a surprise against a team like this," Kerley said. "We were more explosive, caught them off guard."

TCU led 17-0 on Ross Evans' 21-yard field goal a play after an apparent interception was overturned by replay. That drive included a 21-yard run by Kerley. Joseph Turner, who ran 19 times for 70 yards, scored on a 5-yard run at the end of the third quarter for the final touchdown.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Final Presidential Debate Gets Personal

Democrat Barack Obama and Republican John McCain battled fiercely on Wednesday in their liveliest and most contentious debate, with McCain attacking Obama's tax plan, campaign tone and relationship with a 1960s radical. The presidential rivals complained about the negativity of each other's campaigns during a tense and frequently testy debate that featured repeated discussion of "Joe the plumber", a small business owner Obama met in Ohio. McCain called on Obama to explain his relationship with 1960s radical William Ayers, who served with Obama on a community board in Chicago. Obama said he was simply an acquaintance.

"Mr. Ayers is not involved in my campaign. He has never been involved in this campaign. And he will not advise me in the White House," Obama said.

McCain, 72, an Arizona senator, entered the debate under intense pressure to give a strong performance that could turn around a presidential race moving decisively in Obama's favor after weeks of economic turmoil and plunging stock markets. Opinion polls three weeks before the November 4 election show more voters say they trust Obama's leadership on the economy, which has dominated the campaign trail discussion and dwarfed McCain's expertise in foreign and military policy.

McCain repeatedly criticized Obama throughout the debate, turning in a more aggressive performance than in the first two showdowns. McCain rebuked Obama for frequently claiming that he is too close to the policies of President George W. Bush.

"Senator Obama, I am not President Bush. If you wanted to run against President Bush you should have run four years ago," McCain said in their final debate, at Hofstra University in New York.

Obama, 47, said he sometimes had trouble spotting a difference between the two.

"If I occasionally have mistaken your policies for George Bush's policies, it's because on the core economic issues that matter to the American people, on tax policy, on energy policy, on spending priorities you have been a vigorous supporter of President Bush," Obama said.

Both candidates admitted the campaign's tone was "tough" and accused the other of fomenting the negativity. McCain said Obama had spent more money on negative ads than any candidate in history, while Obama noted a recent study said 100 percent of McCain's ads had been negative.

"It's gotten pretty tough, and I regret some of the negative aspects of both campaigns. But the fact is that it has taken many turns which I think are unacceptable," McCain said.

He demanded Obama renounce the comments of Georgia Rep. John Lewis, a leader in the US civil rights movement, who recently linked McCain to 1960s segregationist leader George Wallace.

"That, to me, was so hurtful," McCain said.

Obama said Lewis's link between McCain and Wallace was inappropriate "and we immediately put out a statement saying that we don't think that comparison is appropriate."

Several recent opinion polls have shown McCain's attacks on Obama's character have largely backfired, increasing unfavorable opinions about McCain among voters looking for solutions on the economy. But the two candidates spent long stretches battling over the grievances about their campaigns and not discussing the economy. Obama complained about the focus.

"The American people have become so cynical about our politics, because all they see is a tit-for-tat and back and forth," Obama said.

The candidates fought over their tax plans and promised to help working Americans like "Joe the plumber," an Ohio plumber Obama met over the weekend. McCain criticized Obama's proposal to raise taxes on those who make more than $250,000 a year, saying it would hurt small business owners like Joe the plumber.

"Why would you want to raise anybody's taxes right now?" McCain asked Obama. "We need to encourage businesses."

Obama said his plan would cut taxes for 95 percent of Americans and raise them on only a small slice of the most high-income Americans, while McCain would give tax breaks to oil and gas companies.

"We both want to cut taxes," Obama, an Illinois senator, said. "The difference is who we want to cut taxes for."

The debate focused on domestic policy and the economy. Obama and McCain were seated at a table with moderator Bob Schieffer of CBS News instead of standing at podiums as in the first debate.

Final Presidential Debate on Tap for Tonight

Democrat Barack Obama and Republican John McCain square off in their final Presidential Debate tonite. John McCain is hoping a strong performance can begin to turn around a White House race that is slowly slipping away. Three weeks before the November 4 election, McCain is running out of chances to reverse his slide in national opinion polls and gain ground on a surging Obama.

The encounter at Hofstra University in New York, will be the third and final debate between the presidential contenders and their final opportunity to reach a television audience of 60 million or more.

"You can do yourself a lot of good when you have a debate with that many people watching," South Carolina Republican Party Chairman Katon Dawson said.

The debate comes as new opinion polls show Obama gaining strength nationally and in battleground states after weeks of economic turmoil and plunging stock markets, with more voters saying they trust Obama's leadership on the economy. A Reuters/CSPAN/Zogby poll gave Obama a 4-point edge over McCain, but other national polls showed a larger margin for the Illinois senator. A CBS News/New York Times poll that showed Obama leading by 14 percentage points was the fifth survey this week to register Obama's lead in double-digits.

The bad poll news heightened the debate stakes for McCain, who unveiled a package of measures on Tuesday to help investors, particularly older Americans, who have seen their retirement savings decimated by stock market losses. But McCain also said he was not finished talking about Obama's service on a community board in Chicago with former 1960s radical William Ayers. The Arizona senator said he was likely to talk about Ayers during the debate.

Ayers was not discussed in the last debate, although McCain had been talking about him on the campaign trail. After the last debate, Obama noted McCain's reluctance to discuss the issue with him directly.

"I was astonished to hear him say that he was surprised that I didn't have the guts to do that," McCain said in an interview with KMOX radio in St. Louis, Missouri. "I think he's probably assured that it's going to come up this time."

Several recent polls have shown McCain's attacks on Obama's character largely backfired, increasing unfavorable opinions about McCain among voters looking for solutions on the economy.

"There is no question the negative campaigning just isn't working," pollster John Zogby said. "To make an impact in this debate, McCain needs to be proactive and be very specific about the way he would lead an economic recovery."

Both candidates spent time on Tuesday cramming for the showdown. Obama holed up at a secluded resort on Lake Erie in the battleground state of Ohio, while McCain rehearsed at a stage complex in New York's theater district. At a New York fundraiser with running mate Sarah Palin on Tuesday night, McCain quipped to cheering supporters: "I want to do about half as good as Sarah did against poor old Joe Biden."

Polls showed most voters thought Biden, a Delaware senator and the Democratic vice presidential nominee, outperformed the first-term Alaska governor in their lone debate. The presidential debate will focus on domestic policy and the economy. Obama and McCain will be seated at a table with moderator Bob Schieffer of CBS News instead of standing at podiums as in the first debate.

That could provoke more direct exchanges than in the first two encounters, which did little to recast the presidential race. McCain needs a sharper performance to build momentum for the final 2 1/2 weeks on the campaign trail.

"He has time to come back in this race," Dawson said of McCain. "Every day is a lifetime in American politics. But he has to get started."

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

The Latest From the Obama and McCain Campaign Trail

(Reuters) - Trying to revive his campaign, Republican presidential nominee John McCain offered proposals on Tuesday to help investors rebound from the stock market crash while Democrat Barack Obama prepared for their final debate. "What we need to see now is swift and bold action to lead this country in a new direction," McCain told cheering supporters in the battleground state of Pennsylvania.

McCain has sought to regain his footing on economic issues for the past three weeks after drawing criticism for saying the US economy's fundamentals were strong despite brewing signs of crisis on Wall Street that ultimately gave way to the biggest stock market drop since the Great Depression. During that time Obama has prospered, moving from a tie with McCain in national polls to a lead. In bad news for the McCain campaign, a Quinnipiac/Wall Street Journal/Washingtonpost poll on Tuesday gave Obama sizable leads in four battleground states.

The Illinois senator, who has hammered economic issues in his own campaign speeches, was up 52% to 43% for McCain in Colorado, 54-38 in Michigan, 51-40 in Minnesota and 54-37 in Wisconsin. With three weeks to go until election day on November 4, the stakes were high for the third and final debate between Obama and McCain, to take place at 9pm EDT on Wednesday in Hempstead, New York.

McCain is offering a more positive message on the campaign trail a week after he went negative on Obama, criticizing the Democrat for his ties to 1960s radical William Ayers. Ayers may well come up at the third debate, however, McCain told the Mark Reardon Show of St. Louis radio station KMOX.

"I was astonished to hear him (Obama) say that he was surprised that I didn't have the guts to do that ... I think he's probably assured that it's going to come up this time," McCain said.

In the Philadelphia suburb of Blue Bell, McCain outlined an estimated $52.5 billion in new proposals called the Pension and Security Plan. Many of them are aimed at helping older Americans who have seen their retirement accounts devastated in the recent stock market gyrations. He proposed that seniors pay a maximum tax rate of 10 percent on money they withdraw from IRAs and 401k retirement savings plans in 2009 and 2010, instead of paying the current higher tax rate. It would cost $36 billion.

This is in addition to a plan he announced last week to give investors temporary relief from a rule forcing them to begin withdrawing from their 401k and IRA plans once they reach the age of 70 1/2. McCain also proposed relief for Americans who were counting on investment income to send their children to college or pay the mortgage.

Internal Revenue Service rules say Americans can only deduct $3,000 in stock losses in any given year. McCain would expand that deduction to $15,000 a year for the tax years 2008 and 2009. Saying he wanted to "revive the market by attracting new investment," McCain proposed a two-year cut in the capital gains tax on stock profits in half, from 15% now on stocks held a year or longer to 7.5%, a $10 billion proposal.

In a proposal aimed at helping Americans who have been laid off from their jobs, McCain said would suspend the tax on unemployment insurance benefits in 2008 and 2009. McCain repeated his support for a $300 billion plan for the government to buy troubled loans from homeowners who have seen values fall below their debt and restructure them into more affordable mortgages.

The Obama campaign dismissed McCain's plan. "John McCain's latest gambit is a day late and 101 million middle-class families short. McCain's plan would spend $300 billion to bail out the same irresponsible Wall Street banks that got us into this mess without doing anything to help jumpstart job growth for America's middle class," said Obama spokesman Bill Burton.

McCain, accused by the Obama campaign of helping deregulate the financial industry, called for more oversight of Wall Street to avoid a repeat of a lax environment that fostered the US housing crisis at the root of the financial meltdown.

"We will learn from this crisis to prevent the next one, with much stricter oversight," he said.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Obama Asking for 3 Month Hold on Foreclosures

Democrat Presidential candidate Barack Obama proposed immediate steps to heal the nation's ailing economy including a 90 day moratorium on home foreclosures at some banks and a two-year tax break for businesses that create new jobs. With the economic turmoil weighing down his Republican presidential rival, Obama also proposed allowing people to withdraw up to $10,000 from their retirement accounts without any penalty this year and next.

The Democratic presidential candidate said his proposals, with a price tag of $60 billion over two years, can be enacted quickly, either through the government's regulatory powers or legislation that Congress could pass in a special session after the election.

"I'm proposing a number of steps that we should take immediately to stabilize our financial system, provide relief to families and communities and help struggling homeowners," Obama told a crowd of 3,000. "It's a plan that begins with one word that's on everyone's mind, and it's spelled J-O-B-S."

Obama delivered his economic message in Toledo, a struggling blue-collar city in a state that could be critical to Obama's presidential hopes. Polls show a close race between Obama and Republican John McCain in Ohio, which decided the 2004 presidential election. At stake are 20 electoral votes.

His call for action comes just two days before the final debate of the presidential race and at a time when McCain is sending mixed signals about how he'll address the economy. Sen. Lindsey Graham, a key McCain adviser, said Sunday the Republican candidate was considering a proposal to reduce taxes on investment, including a possible cut in capital gains taxes, but McCain offered no new economic proposals when he gave a new stump speech Monday morning promising a change in direction from the economic policies of President Bush.

McCain spokesman Tucker Bounds accused Obama of planning to raise taxes if elected, something that would "have a devastating effect" on the troubled economy. Obama's plan calls for raising taxes only on the 5% of people who make more than $250,000 a year. The nonpartisan Tax Policy Center found that under Obama's approach the wealthiest 1% of taxpayers would see their taxes go up on average by $93,709 in 2009, For McCain, those same wealthy taxpayers would see an average reduction of $48,860.

Obama is proposing tax cuts for those making less than $200,000 a year. Obama's latest proposals are in addition to other policies the Illinois senator has already offered as the stock market struggles, financial institutions wobble and tight credit chokes the economy. Obama supported the $700 billion Wall Street bailout plan and endorsed the latest twist on it: the government buying ownership in major banks and partially nationalizing them to keep them afloat. He also calls for tax breaks for most families, cutting capital gains taxes for investment in small business and extending unemployment benefits.

Obama proposed Monday that banks participating in the federal bailout should temporarily postpone foreclosures for families making good-faith efforts to pay their mortgage.

"We need to give people the breathing room they need to get back on their feet," he said, adding that families living beyond their means share some of the responsibility. Part of the reason this crisis occurred, if we're honest with ourselves, is that everyone was living beyond their means, from Wall Street to Washington to even some on Main Street," Obama said.

He also called for a $3,000 tax credit for each additional fulltime job a business creates. That means a business that adds five jobs would get a $15,000 break. That would end after 2010 and would cost $40 billion, the campaign estimates. Obama proposes letting people withdraw up to 15% of their retirement funds, to a maximum of $10,000, without the penalty that now applies to early or excess withdrawals. The change would apply retroactively to all of 2008, as well as 2009. People would still have to pay normal taxes on the money. He said letting people dip into their IRAs and 401(k)s would help them get through tough times when money is tight.

State and local governments face a money crunch, too, and Obama called for new federal short-term loans to help them through the crisis. He called it a "funding backstop" to ensure that states and cities can meet payroll or keep projects moving. He ended the speech with a call for people to unite and make sacrifices, as America did during the Great Depression, until the economy is back on track.

"Together, we cannot fail. Not now. Not when we have a crisis to solve and an economy to save. Not when there are so many Americans without jobs and without homes," Obama said. "We can do this because we've done it before."

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Barack Obama Planning Infomercial

Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama has announced plans to air a 30 minute infomercial six days before the election durring prime time on October 29. Obama spokesman Bill Burton said the campaign has secured the time from CBS and is negotiating with other networks to air the half hour spot.

Obama has been outspending Republican rival John McCain in advertising and has been airing commercials of up to two minutes in length lately. Ross Perot famously aired a 30 minute ad during his independent presidential campaign in 1992, attracting 16.5 million viewers. Obama hopes to do even better than that.

Short political spots have been the traditional way for politicians to communicate with voters. For Barack Obama, however, a longer piece would be a dramatic way to close his argument to voters and roll to election victory next month.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

So Who Won the McCain Obama Debate?

So Who Won the McCain Obama Debate?

Neither candidate made any major gaffes, stumbles or snafus during the second presidential debate so it is safe to say that neither candidate won hands down. There were no fireworks, no major water cooler moments. Even though the debaters traded testy jabs over the economy, the Drudge Report went so far as to label the debate "boring." At first glance, it might seem this duel was a draw. Nevertheless, there is a growing consensus among the pundits that McCain lost the debate, not because of what he did but because of what he didn't do: He didn't create the game-changing moment his campaign needed to alter the trajectory of the race.

With McCain lagging in the polls, Politico's Alexander Burns sums up why Obama gets the "W" next to his name: Obama didn't deliver a knockout punch tonight. But he denied his opponent the chance to rescramble the campaign, and that was enough. The day goes to him.

The Associated Press, the Wall Street Journal, and the Washington Post all concur, in their own way. This snoozefest created a winner because no one won at all.

There were a few in the media who focused more on the apparent tie. Mark Halperin at Time gave McCain a B and Obama a B+. Of McCain, he wrote: The Republican nominee was by turns aggressive, sensitive, conservative and conversational. Successfully presented a negative case against Obama with an upbeat, optimistic smile. Ultimately though, Halperin echoed the general consensus: Obama played it typically cautious and safe, and thus avoided major blunders, knowing if he commits no errors for the next 30 days, he will be the next president of the United States.

Even if you don't put much stock in the talking heads, consider what nonmedia types said. Each candidate stood his ground, looking comfortable in the townhall setting, yet the instapolls showed the same opinion: Obama won.

In the CBS poll, 40% of uncommitted voters said Obama won. 26% said John McCain won, while 34% said it was a tie.

Over at CNN, Obama fared even better in the poll: 54% said he did a better job, 30% gave it to McCain. Despite those numbers, this isn't all bad news for McCain. The CBS poll did have a silver lining respondents still see McCain as more prepared for the job (83% to 58%). The other good news for the Arizona senator: there is about a month left in the campaign. That's enough time for him to find the game-changer he is looking for.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Obama and McCain Battle it out in Debate

Democrat Barack Obama and Republican John McCain duked it out over taxation, healthcare and the best way to help struggling American workers on Tuesday during a sometimes tense presidential debate the broad differences in their economic approaches. With Americans reeling under what Obama called the worst crisis since the Great Depression, the rivals in the November 4 presidential election differed frequently and showed occasional flashes of the rancor that marked their recent rhetoric on the campaign trail.

"Americans are angry, they're upset and they're a little fearful," McCain said in the second of three presidential debates, at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee. "We don't have trust and confidence in our institutions."

The Arizona senator, criticized for not being responsive on economic issues, was under pressure to turn in a strong performance that would stop his slide in the polls and halt Obama's momentum that has blossomed during the economic crisis. Two quick polls taken immediately after the debate, by CBS News and CNN, both judged Obama the winner.

McCain, 72, proposed a program that would buy mortgages from homeowners facing financial problems and replace those mortgages with new, fixed-rate mortgages. His campaign said it would cost roughly $300 billion. Obama said McCain and Republicans had supported the deregulation of the financial industry that led to the crisis. He said middle-class workers, not just Wall Street, needed a rescue package that would include tax cuts.

"We are in the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression, and a lot of you, I think, are worried about your jobs, your pensions, your retirement accounts," he said.

The debate broke little new ground and featured familiar themes for both candidates. McCain portrayed Obama as an eager supporter of higher taxes who was unwilling to buck his own party, but Obama said McCain's policies would help the wealthy and strand workers at the bottom of the economic ladder.

"Nailing down Senator Obama's various tax proposals is like nailing Jello to the wall," McCain said.

Obama, 47, responded with a crack about McCain's campaign bus. "I think the Straight Talk Express lost a wheel on that one," he said, explaining his plan would only tax those making more than $250,000 a year and most small businesses would not be affected.

Both candidates vowed to focus on making the United States energy independent. McCain said nuclear power was a clean source of energy that would be key to battling climate change and mocked Obama.

"Senator Obama says that it has to be safe or disposable or something like that," he said. Obama said he approved of nuclear power as one element of a broader energy plan.

Obama has solidified his national lead in polls and gained an edge in crucial battleground states in recent weeks as the Wall Street crisis focused attention on the economy, an area where polls show voters prefer the Illinois senator's leadership. The economic turmoil continued on Tuesday, with stocks tumbling for the second consecutive day in a sign the $700 billion bailout of US financial institutions did not ease market concerns about the economy.

Asked about a possible Treasury secretary in their administrations, both candidates mentioned Omaha's legendary investor Warren Buffett, a supporter of Obama. Foreign policy was the topic in the final third of the debate, and the two candidates clashed sharply over the Iraq war. Obama was an early critic of the war, while McCain has been a staunch supporter and urged the "surge" strategy to increase American troops.

"Senator Obama would have brought our troops home in defeat. I will bring them home in victory and in honor," McCain said.

Obama said the focus on Iraq had distracted the United States from the threat in Afghanistan, and he defended his willingness to strike against terrorists in Pakistan without approval from Islamabad despite McCain's criticism.

"We have fundamental differences about the use of military power," McCain said.

McCain said Russia may be an "evil empire," the term applied to the old Soviet Union by President Ronald Reagan, while Obama said it had engaged in some evil behavior and "they still have nationalist impulses that I think are very dangerous." The debate was conducted in a looser town hall format where questions were asked by the audience, a favorite setting for McCain and a staple of his campaigns in the battle for the party nomination this year and in 2000.

About 100 undecided Nashville voters identified by the Gallup polling company posed the questions. The candidates talked directly to the audience and were free to roam the stage. With only four weeks to go until the election, the two candidates will meet for one final debate on October 15.

McCain Down to one of his Last Best Chances in Debate

Leading in pretty much every national poll, Barack Obama hopes to cement his standing while John McCain is trying to turn his fortunes around in their second presidential debate, with economic turmoil bordering on chaos suddenly serving as the backdrop. Exchanges between the candidates have grown ever more negative with just four weeks to go until Election Day. Tuesday night's debate gives Republican McCain one of his last chances before a nationwide TV audience to halt the Democrat's momentum and convince voters he is capable of addressing the crisis in the credit, housing and stock markets.

The town hall format at Belmont University will allow voters to ask questions while NBC's Tom Brokaw moderates. The candidates' third and last debate will be Oct. 15 at Hofstra University in Hempsted, NY. If Tuesday night's confrontation echoes the most recent campaign exchanges, it could be far more personal and pointed than the two men's Sept. 26 encounter. McCain's running mate, Sarah Palin, has raised Obama's ties to 1960s-era radical William Ayers and to the Democrat's former pastor, the incendiary Rev. Jeremiah Wright. On Monday, McCain accused Obama of lying about the Republican senator's record, and asked, "Who is the real Sen. Obama?"

Obama's campaign rolled out a video recounting McCain's involvement in the 1980s Keating Five savings and loan scandal, while Obama himself accused McCain of engaging in "smear tactics" to distract from economic issues. Both nominees have condemned character attacks in the past, and some supporters are urging them to cool the rhetoric.

McCain in June told reporters, "Americans are sick and tired of the personal attacks, the impugning of integrity" in campaigns. Obama told an Iowa crowd in January: "We can't afford the same old partisan food fight. We can't afford a politics that's all about tearing opponents down instead of lifting the country up."

Some Republicans, while defending McCain's recent tactics, feel he needs to engage voters on the issues, not character, to overtake Obama. Scott Reed, who managed Republican Bob Dole's 1996 presidential campaign, said of the economic crisis: "McCain is suffering because Americans typically punish the party in power."

McCain's best bet, Reed said, is to show voters "who has the best solutions." Obama adviser David Axelrod told reporters the Democratic nominee wants to focus on economic issues but "we're prepared for a very aggressive debate" if it becomes more personal. "We're running for president of the United States," he said. "It's a rough, tough pursuit."

The debate was being held at a time most Americans have a dismal view of the country's direction. A Gallup Poll released Tuesday showed just 9% say they're satisfied with the way things are going, the lowest ever recorded in the 29 years Gallup has asked the question. Asked to name the country's major problem, 69% said the economy. Next closest: 11% cited the Iraq war.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Obama Looking to be Taking Over Presidential Race

Things are beginning to look dire for John McCain in the Presidential Race. Last week the Republicans pulled out of Michigan and new polls show Obama widening leads all across the country. Democrat Barack Obama leads Republican presidential nominee John McCain in battleground states of Ohio, Pennsylvania and Minnesota, according to new polls. Obama leads 49% to 42% among Ohio voters, according to a Columbus Dispatch poll of 2,262 likely voters released yesterday.

The survey, conducted Sept. 24 to Oct. 3, shows a change from a poll by the newspaper before the parties' nominating conventions, when McCain had a single percentage point advantage. The state is crucial to the Arizona senator's campaign, because no Republican has won the presidency without carrying Ohio.

Polls in Ohio are showing increased support for Barack Obama, because voters are paying attention to McCain's support for privatizing Social Security, backing job-killing trade agreements, and his backing of deregulation of the banking system, Ohio Democratic Senator Sherrod Brown said on ABC's ``This Week'' program yesterday.

A Minnesota poll of 1,084 likely voters published by the Star Tribune newspaper shows Obama leading 55-37% over McCain. The poll was conducted from Sept. 30 to Oct. 2. Republican Governor Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota said the Star Tribune poll is notoriously not accurate, and said a separate earlier poll found McCain favored by 1 percentage point.

`Minnesota is a Democrat-leaning state, but not so much that it's implausible for a Republican to win here,' Pawlenty said on ``This Week.''

In Pennsylvania, Obama has a 50 percent to 40% lead over McCain, according to a Morning Call/Muhlenberg College tracking poll. The Muhlenberg College poll surveyed 597 likely voters and was conducted from Sept. 30 to Oct. 3. The results of the three state polls were outside the margin for error.

The presidential race in Colorado remains a tie, according to a poll released by the Denver Post yesterday. National polls also show that Obama is maintaining a lead over McCain. Obama led McCain 49% to 42% among registered voters surveyed Sept. 27-29 by the Pew Research Center. In a mid- September poll, the candidates were in a statistical dead heat.

In a CBS News poll conducted Sept. 27-30, Obama led 50% to 41% among likely voters. The margin increased 4 percentage points from a CBS/New York Times survey a week earlier.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Biden and Palin Mistakes from the Debate

Republican Sarah Palin criticized a version of a Barack Obama health care plan that doesn't exist and Democrat Joe Biden clung to a misleading charge about Republicans and big oil when the two clashed in the vice presidential debate Thursday. Some examples of facts cast adrift in the debate:

PALIN: Said of Democratic presidential candidate Obama: "94 times he voted to increase taxes or not support a tax reduction."

THE FACTS: The dubious count includes repetitive votes as well as votes to cut taxes for the middle class while raising them on the rich. An analysis by found that 23 of the votes were for measures that would have produced no tax increase at all, seven were in favor of measures that would have lowered taxes for many, 11 would have increased taxes on only those making more than $1 million a year.


BIDEN: Complained about "economic policies of the last eight years" that led to "excessive deregulation."

THE FACTS: Biden voted for 1999 deregulation that liberal groups are blaming for part of the financial crisis today. The law allowed Wall Street investment banks to create the kind of mortgage-related securities at the core of the problem now. The law was widely backed by Republicans as well as by Democratic President Clinton, who argues it has stopped the crisis today from being worse.


PALIN: Criticized Obama's "plan to mandate health care coverage and have universal government run program" for health care, and added: "I don't think it's going to be real pleasing for Americans to consider health care being taken over by the Feds."

THE FACTS: Wrong on several counts. Obama's plan does not provide for universal coverage, only mandates insurance for children and doesn't turn the system over to the government. Most people would still get private insurance through their work. Obama proposes that the government subsidize the cost of health coverage for millions who have trouble affording it and he'd set up an exchange to negotiate prices and benefits with private insurers — with one option being a government-run plan.


BIDEN: Warned that Republican presidential candidate John McCain's $5,000 tax credit to help families buy health coverage "will go straight to the insurance company."

THE FACTS: That's not surprising, the money is meant to pay for health insurance. The Obama campaign tried to capitalize on the candidates' health care exchange by issuing an ad Friday contending that the Republicans can't explain "the McCain health tax."


PALIN: "Two years ago, remember, it was John McCain who pushed so hard with the Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac reform measures. He sounded that warning bell."

THE FACTS: Republican Sen. Chuck Hagel of Nebraska led an effort in 2005 to tighten regulation on the mortgage underwriters, McCain joined as a co-sponsor a year later. The legislation was never taken up by the full Senate, then under Republican control.


BIDEN: Said McCain supports tax breaks for oil companies, and "wants to give them another $4 billion tax cut."

THE FACTS: Biden is repeating a favorite saw of the Obama campaign, and it's misleading. McCain supports a cut in income taxes for all corporations, and doesn't single out any one industry for that benefit.


PALIN: Said the United States has reduced its troop level in Iraq to a number below where it was when the troop increase began in early 2007.

THE FACTS: Not correct. The Pentagon says there are currently 152,000 US troops in Iraq, about 17,000 more than there were before the 2007 military buildup began.


BIDEN: "As a matter of fact, John recently wrote an article in a major magazine saying that he wants to do for the health care industry, deregulate it and let the free market move, like he did for the banking industry."

THE FACTS: Biden and Obama have been perpetuating this distortion of what McCain wrote in an article for the American Academy of Actuaries. McCain, laying out his health plan, only referred to deregulation when saying people should be allowed to buy health insurance across state lines. In that context, he wrote: "Opening up the health insurance market to more vigorous nationwide competition, as we have done over the last decade in banking, would provide more choices of innovative products less burdened by the worst excesses of state-based regulation."


PALIN: Said Alaska is "building a nearly $40 billion natural gas pipeline, which is North America's largest and most expensive infrastructure project ever to flow those sources of energy into hungry markets."

THE FACTS: Not quite. Construction is at least six years away. So far the state has only awarded a license to Trans Canada Corp., that comes with $500 million in seed money in exchange for commitments toward a lengthy and costly process to getting a federal certificate. At an August news conference after the state Legislature approved the license, Palin said, "It's not a done deal."


PALIN: "Barack Obama even supported increasing taxes as late as last year for those families making only $42,000 a year."

BIDEN: "The charge is absolutely not true. Barack Obama did not vote to raise taxes."

THE FACTS: The vote was on a nonbinding budget resolution that assumed that President Bush's tax cuts would expire, as scheduled, in 2011. If that actually happened, it could mean higher taxes for people making as little as about $42,000. But Obama is proposing tax increases only on the wealthy, and would cut taxes for most others.


PALIN: Said a McCain-Palin administration "will support Israel," including "building our embassy ... in Jerusalem."

THE FACTS: Moving the US Embassy from its present location in Tel Aviv to Jerusalem is a perennial promise of presidential candidates courting the Jewish-American vote. In fact, moving the embassy is actually required by US law. But successive administrations of both parties, including George W. Bush's, have made the same pledge only to find that the realities of Middle East peacemaking have forced them to invoke a waiver to delay it. Jerusalem is claimed as a capital by both Israel and the Palestinians and Israel's occupation of east Jerusalem is not internationally recognized. The city's status is one of the key issues of disagreement in peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians.

Palin and Biden Both Shine in Debate

Even before she reached the podium, the first words out of Sarah Palin's mouth set the tone for her debate night: "Hey, can I call ya Joe?" It was an unabashedly, one might even say relentlessly folksy and down-home Palin that greeted Americans Thursday night, with phrases like "Doggone it," "You guys," "Darn right" and, one she must have been saving 'til the end, "Say it ain't so, Joe!" You became "ya," change was "comin'" and a class of third-graders even got a "shout-out" from the Alaska governor.

And whether viewers loved or hated it, a result likely to split down party lines, it was clear this was a much more comfortable candidate than the one who faced CBS News' Katie Couric in those painful interviews. She even said as much in her closing statement: "I like being able to answer these tough questions without the filter ... of the mainstream media kinda telling viewers what they just heard," she said. "I'd rather just be able to speak to the American people." And so she did.

But if Palin made ground in repairing her shaky image, Sen. Joe Biden was just as effective in reining in his tendency to occasionally appear overexcited or, as moderator Gwen Ifill put it, undisciplined. He was generally focused and forceful, and seemed to take painstaking care not to appear disrespectful in the least.

And so he'd merely smile broadly when she'd issue a zinger, and if he wanted to challenge her facts, he was likely to use Ifill as a buffer, as in "Facts matter, Gwen," when he really meant "Facts matter, Sarah." For those who were paying attention to the facts, it was hard not to notice that Palin was often speaking in generalities and less comfortable than Biden on a number of questions, on a question about Israel and the Middle East, for example, she seemed to be reading a laundry list of talking points off a card.

She was clearly most comfortable on the subject of energy, which she referred to frequently. She drew chuckles when she corrected Biden on the pro-drilling chant: It was "drill, baby drill," she informed him, not "drill, drill, drill." Biden, though, assuming he noticed, chose not to correct his opponent when she twice referred to the top US commander in Afghanistan as "Gen. McClellan," rather than David McKiernan.

The governor didn't just sound more comfortable, she looked it too, her demeanor was more relaxed than in those halting TV interviews, and, for those following her fashion choices, she'd gone back to the someup, somedown hairdo she sported for her successful GOP convention speech.

In all, it was a much warmer debate than the contest six days ago in Mississippi between Barack Obama and John McCain. There were a lot more smiles, genuine ones, not McCain's frustrated, barely contained variety, and the candidates actually turned and looked at each other frequently. There was even room for a few compliments. And Ifill was a fairly tolerant moderator, not giving Palin too much grief for sometimes answering a different question than was asked, a tactic the governor cheerfully admitted to at one point.

So did the debate change any minds? It didn't seem likely. For one undecided voter, each candidate scored points. "I think Palin talked more like a person, and Biden talked more like a politician," said Michelle Lamar, a writer and mother in Kansas City. "Palin connects with the people, she reminds me of Reagan."

But, Lamar said, Palin also sounded "like she was spewing a PR-ish tone. We saw her spark a little in the middle, but overall she was not as strong. Biden sounded intelligent, worthy of leadership. Overall, I think it was a draw."

Committed Obama supporter Tim Quigley, a microbiologist from Haddon Heights, NJ, found Palin's downhome tone offensive. "I found her folksy talk insulting and inappropriate for someone running for the vice presidency," said Quigley. "While Biden didn't sweep the floor with Palin as I had anticipated, I feel like that was more a function of him toning it down to avoid being perceived as a Washington bully. He refuted her non-answers of the questions with facts, and carried himself in a much more executive manner."

Palin fans who were wavering in recent days, or at least becoming concerned by her falling poll numbers, had reason to sit back and sigh with relief, if just for a moment. "I'm thankful Sarah Palin held her own," said Jean Pirovic, a real estate agent and longtime Republican from Hyattsville, Md. "I was impressed by Joe Biden's performance and behavior and his public service, but he did nothing to help me understand how he will change things. I will remain Republican and support the ticket."

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Nation Gears up for Vice Presidential Debate

Republican Sarah Palin and Democrat Joe Biden share the same stage in a vice presidential debate on Thursday, but the spotlight will be on the untested Palin as she tries to ease doubts about whether she is up to the job. The lone match-up of the vice presidential contenders before the November 4 election promises more than the usual drama, most of it supplied by Palin's debut in an unscripted format.

The encounter could draw a larger television audience than the 52 million who watched last week's first debate between the presidential candidates, Republican John McCain and Democrat Barack Obama. McCain's surprise choice in August of the relatively unknown Palin as his No. 2 rallied conservative support for the Republican ticket and turned the moose hunting Alaska governor into a political celebrity. But her lack of national experience and her hesitant performance in rare media interviews raised doubts about her readiness and prompted criticism even from some prominent conservatives.

She hopes a solid debate performance can halt Obama's momentum and erase concerns about her ability to step into the top job if needed. McCain, 72, would be the oldest president to begin a first term. In a Washington Post/ABC News poll released on Thursday, 60% of the voters surveyed said Palin did not have the experience to be president, up from 45% in a similar survey a month ago.

"She'll be just fine. She'll do fine tonight," McCain said on MSNBC, rejecting criticism that his campaign had mishandled her by shielding her from the media. "She's experienced. She's knowledgeable. She's very strong person. I'm proud of her record, and I'm proud of her."

Biden, 65, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, faces his own set of challenges as he tries to rein in his tendency to make mistakes and talk too much. He will have to tread carefully in challenging Palin without appearing condescending or aggressive. The McCain campaign launched a Web advertisement mocking Biden, noting his comments about his own high IQ, the high number of foreign workers in convenience stores and Hillary Clinton's better suitability for his vice presidential slot.

"Ready to gaffe? Yes. Ready to lead? No," the ad's narrator says.

The Biden-Palin encounter follows last week's first presidential debate between Obama and McCain. Opinion polls judged Obama the winner, and the Illinois senator has since solidified his lead in national polls and gained ground on McCain in some crucial battleground states. A flurry of new surveys showed Obama with leads in traditional battlegrounds like Florida, Pennsylvania and Ohio, and building an advantage in states like Virginia and Nevada where Democratic presidential contenders rarely do well.

Obama, who campaigned in Michigan on Thursday, has picked up steam during the Wall Street crisis over the last two weeks, with polls showing voters preferring his economic leadership. Obama and McCain, an Arizona senator, voted for the $700 billion financial bailout in the Senate on Wednesday. The television audience could be largest for a vice presidential debate, surpassing the nearly 57 million who watched in 1984 when then-Vice President George H.W. Bush, the current president's father, debated Geraldine Ferraro, the first woman vice presidential nominee for a major party.

Palin and Biden have spent several days off the campaign trail to prepare. Palin has been at McCain's Arizona retreat and Biden at home in Delaware, although he returned to Washington to vote for the bailout package on Wednesday. Both camps tried to drive up expectations for their opponent.

"I've been hearing about his Senate speeches since I was in, like, second grade," Palin, 44, told CBS News in a sly reference to their difference in age. "I'm the new energy, the new face, the new ideas, and he's got the experience."

Obama aides said they have studied her debates during her 2006 campaign for governor of Alaska.

"Anyone who has watched any of her earlier debates would agree she is a skilled debater," Obama campaign manager David Plouffe said.