2008 Race for the White House: March 2008 Archives

WASHINGTON—The Chicago Sun-Times has confirmed that all the presidential contenders-- Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.), Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y) and GOP presumptive nominee Sen. John McCain (R-Az.)-- will drop off the campaign trail on Tuesday, April 8, to return to the Capitol for hearings on the Iraq surge featuring Gen. David Petraeus and Amb. Ryan C. Crocker.

WASHINGTON--Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's campaign debts include $3,161 owed to her high school, Maine South in the Chicago suburb of Park Ridge.

The school was the site of a town hall meeting--hosted by high school pal Betsy Ebeling--held the night before the Feb. 5 SuperTuesday votes. The Clinton campaign that night held events in all 22 states voting on Feb. 5.

WASHINGTON--Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Mn.), a superdelegate, in throwing her support to Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) is not asking Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) to quit the race.

"I thinks Sen. Clinton should remain in the race," she said in a conference call on Monday.

Klobuchar--who did not endorse earlier--said she was breaking her silence now because, in the words of her daughter, to stay silent was "awkward Mom, awkward."

Clinton is under pressure to fold for the sake of Democratic unity and to avoid giving presumptive GOP nominee Sen. John McCain (D-Az.) a pass for now.

Clinton "has every right to continue her campaign. ...I don't agree with those who have said things to the contrary," Klobuchar said.

She predicted, this "will come to a conclusion in early summer." She told Obama of her decision two days ago and only asked in return--joking--that the Obamas employ her daughter as a baby sitter when they are in the White House.

WASHINGTON--Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) snagged the backing of superdelegate Sen. Amy Klobucher (D-Mn.) who did not endorse at the time of the Minnesota vote--which Obama won--but is coming through for him now. Obama, I hear, has more superD's in the pipeline.

After a weekend without conference calls from the presidential campaigns, the Obama team kicks off the week with a phoner on Monday morning featuring freshman Klobuchar and Campaign Manager David Plouffe .

WASHINGTON--Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) wore new Timberland boots to tour a dairy complex in Pennsylvania on Sunday.

Click below for pool reports.

WASHINGTON--Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) is now having to defend why she is staying in the Democratic presidential primary. The Obama team--ahead in elected delegates and with some more potential superdelegates in the pipeline than Clinton probably has--want this over as soon as possible. The Clinton campaign, with votes in April and May in some 10 states is hoping for lightening to strike.

Bill Clinton says in a fund-raising letter that they are hearing people calling for Clinton to quit--from as he puts it-- "elected officials, party members, and Obama campaign surrogates." He asks, "With the race this close, it sure doesn't make sense to me that she'd leave now -- does it make sense to you?"

Click below for Bill Clinton appeal...

WASHINGTON—The University of Chicago released a statement on Thursday saying Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) “served as a professor” in the law school—but that is a title Obama, who taught courses there part-time, never held, a spokesman for the school confirmed on Friday.

“He did not hold the title of professor of law,” said Marsha Ferziger Nagorsky, an Assistant Dean for Communications and Lecturer in Law at the school, on East 60th St. in Chicago

WASHINGTON--Above the fold, lower left on front page Friday's Philadelphia Inquirer, story about the endorsement coming today from Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.) for Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.). Obama kicks off a six-day bus tour of the state with the April 22 primary vote today.

"Pennsylvania Sen. Bob Casey plans to endorse Sen. Barack Obama for president today in Pittsburgh, sending a message both to the state's primary voters and to undecided superdelegates who might decide the close race for the Democratic presidential nomination."--Lede from Thomas Fitzgerald scoop in the Inquirer.

NEW YORK -- The uproar over Sen. Barack Obama's former pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, shook up his staffers and was the "low point" of his presidential bid, an adviser told donors Thursday, providing the first inside account of how the Wright crisis affected the campaign.

"Probably the low point in the campaign occurred last Saturday . . . with the Rev. Wright experience, and everybody was asking ourselves, 'How much damage would it do and why and could it be repaired?'" said Greg Craig, one of Obama's chief foreign policy advisers. Craig spoke at a sold-out, $1,000-a-person fund-raising lunch in Manhattan headlined by Obama.

NEW YORK--Heavily blaming lobbyists for the nation's economic crisis--including the subprime mortgage meltdown-- Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) is calling for much tougher regulation and oversite of the U.S. financial markets in a speech at the Cooper Union here.

The keeper line: As a consequence of the mess, "pain trickled up," Obama said.

"Financial institutions have to do a better job at managing risks. There is something wrong when boards of directors or senior managers don’t understand the implications of the risks assumed by their own institutions. It’s time to realign incentives and the compensation packages, so that both high level executives and employees better serve the interests of shareholders. And it’s time to confront the risks that come with excessive complexity. Even the best government regulation cannot fully substitute for internal risk management," Obama said.

NEW YORK--With the economy faltering, Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) is going to call for some kind of new financial markets regulations in the speech he is to deliver Thursday at The Cooper Union, for the Advancement of Science and Art where he will be introduced by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Obama is also doing a heavy round of fund-raising in Manhattan today, with at least three events.

UPDATE: Bloomberg just introduced Obama. He noted he has not endorsed yet. (but this won't stop talk today of an Obama-Bloomberg ticket) He talked about how Abraham Lincoln, in the hall we are in, defended his posiiton on slavery 127 years ago. He said he was welcoming "another man from Illinois."

"There will be plenty of opinions of what he has to say, this is New York after all," Bloomberg said." END UPDATE

In the audience here: William Donaldson, the former Securities and Exchange Commission chairman (2003-2005) and former Federal Reserve Board Chairman Paul Volcker (1979-1987.). Obama will be speaking from a podium once used by President Abraham Lincoln.

Obama breakfasted with Bloomberg in December at a restaurant on East 50th, where Obama picked up the tab for the billionaire political independent, a former Republican and Democrat. With Obama aiming at Republicans and independents, his meal with Bloomberg sparked speculation of a joint ticket.

WASHINGTON--Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) has no one to blame but herself for the latest mess she is in: giving the Obama campaign the opportunity to portray her as an embellisher with a weaker than ever claim to creditionals as a commander-in-chief.

WASHINGTON---The Clinton campaign, in a memo issued Wednesday called the Obama team pushback on Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.)--who Tuesday said she would not have Obama's pastor, Rev. Jeremiah Wright as her minister-- "disingenuous" and a "personal attack."

"Yesterday, a Pennsylvania editorial board asked Sen. Clinton how she would have "responded if [her] pastor had said some of the things that Rev. Wright said?" In response, she said Rev. Wright would not have been her pastor, an honest view shared by many Americans," the Clinton memo said.

"The Obama campaign's response? Attack Sen. Clinton and accuse her of trying to divert attention from the Bosnia trip story and her record of foreign policy experience.

Sen. Clinton’s response was sincere. The Obama attack was disingenuous."

click below for memo....

WASHINGTON-- Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) and wife Michelle released federal income tax returns for years 2000-2006. LINK

This comes as the Obama campaign is calling on Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) to release the returns and schedules for herself and former President Bill Clinton. Clinton has pledged to disclose taxes for the years since the Clintons' left the White House next month. The Clintons' returns for their White House years and governorship of Arkansas have been made public. At issue are the returns since 2000.

As senate and presidential candidates, Obama and Clinton file extensive annual financial disclosure reports. But they don't show everything and only offer a broad financial picture.

The Obama's returns show previously reported income spikes due to Obama's books and Michelle Obama's almost tripling of her income at the University of Chicago hospitals. Their returns--and you can read the 103 pages here on the pdf --reveal no new sources of income or extraordinary investment windfalls.

The Clintons are going to be another story; their books and the former president's extensive business dealngs since he left office have earned them millions of dollars.

WASHINGTON -- After her campaign avoided commenting on Sen. Barack Obama's pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, for more than a week, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton plunged in Tuesday-- in reply to a question -- and said he wouldn't be her spiritual leader. Whatever her motive, her words served two purposes: to deflect attention from her false assertions she faced sniper fire in Bosnia and to revive the damaging Wright storyline just as it may have been waning.

"But I think, given all we have heard and seen, he would not have been my pastor," Clinton said, after being asked at a press conference whether Obama should have left his church, Trinity United Church of Christ on Chicago's South Side. Videotapes of Wright's anti-American and anti-white sermons surfaced a few weeks ago.

WASHINGTON—In response to requests by the Chicago Sun-Times—some longstanding-- the Obama campaign on Saturday released names of Obama’s presidential National Finance Committee; U.S. Senate finance committee and interns who have worked in the Obama U.S. Senate office. His 2004 senate committee included Tony Rezko--on trial on public corruption charges-- and his wife, Rita.

While Obama’s campaign has balked for months in making public the names of the National Finance Committee members, Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) said the information would be disclosed during a meeting with the Chicago Sun-Times on March 14. Obama is making government transparency and ethics a centerpiece of his White House bid.

Click below for lists....

WASHINGTON--Hat tip to ABC News Sunlen Miller who has the scoop that the Obama family will be spending Easter Sunday in a tropical location. The Obama schedule has no events from Sunday to Tuesday, with Obama starting Saturday in Medford, Oregon for a town hall meeting and then flying to Chicago.

Jetting off to a warm climate.--and away from the horrible who needs it snow blizzard hitting Chicago--is a reasonable decision. And it also avoids an awkward situation for the Obama's--whether to attend Easter services at Trinity United, where the Rev. Jeremiah Wright is the senior pastor and whose inflammatory comments surfacing on video tapes triggered a crisis in the Obama campaign.

WASHINGTON---New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson endorsing Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) for president on Friday praises his former Democratic presidential rival as an extraordinary, inspiring figure who opposed the Iraq war. Richardson also lauded Obama for his speech dealing with his relationship with his controversal pastor, Rev. Jeremiah Wright.

"He asked every American to see the reality and the pain of other Americans, so that together we can rise above that which has divided us," said Richardson.

Text of Richardson speech click below.

WASHINGTON--Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) picks up a powerful endorsement on Friday morning, from New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, a former rival for the 2008 Democratic nomination.

Richardson, the only Hispanic governor in the nation, sent an e-mail to his supporters announcing his decision.

Richardson's endorsement is influential and important because: (this list can grow)

1. As the primary has become polarized--results from states already voting show blacks voting for Obama and Hispanics for Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.)--Richardson sends a message to Hispanics.

2. This takes attention away from the Rev. Wright story.

3. He has an appeal to independents.

4. Richardson is a former member of the Bill Clinton administration heavily wooed by the Clintons.

WASHINGTON--The Obama team enters the weekend of one of the roughest patches of the campaign calling the three breaches of the passport file of Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) "outrageous."

“This is an outrageous breach of security and privacy, even from an Administration that has shown little regard for either over the last eight years," said campaign spokesman Bill Burton.

Click on comments to see the entire chart...


WASHINGTON--Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) told CNN's Anderson Cooper on Wednesday night that the controversy triggered by Rev. Jeremiah Wright threw him. "In some ways, this controversy has actually shaken me up a little bit and gotten me back into remembering that the odds of me getting elected have always been lower than some of the other conventional candidates," Obama said.

Transcript of interview at click.

WASHINGTON--Former 2008 presidential contender Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Ct.)--whose name was on that Jan. 15 Michigan ballot--has concerns about a private-funded re-do. His simple solution to make sure the state gets seated at the Denver convention--just apportion the delegates between Clinton and Obama. That's tough for Obama to agree to, because he pulled his name from the Michigan ballot.

In case you have not been following this controversy, the Michigan and Florida Democratic results don't count because the states violated Democratic National Committee rules about only have four states have primary and caucus votes in January.

WASHINGTON---Prices for travel with presidential candidates are sky-high. A Saturday trip from Chicago to Indianapolis and back with Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) was $1,245.59. Here's the invoice for the ATA 737 flight.


Obama For President Press Billing - Invoice: OFP16924
Mar 15 2008 Flight: IND - MDW $614.49
Mar 15 2008 Flight: MDW - IND $631.10
Invoice Total:
Travel Expenses for Lynn Sweet - Chicago Sun-Times

PHILADELPHIA -- Sen. Barack Obama delivered the speech Tuesday that may be the most enduring of his long presidential campaign.

He deplored the nation's "racial stalemate." He declined to "disown" the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, whose inflammatory rhetoric triggered a crisis that may derail Obama's White House bid, as he again denounced his pastor's words. He dared people to reject divisive rhetoric, get over blame games, declare race wars over and say "not this time."

WASHINGTON-- Former President Bill Clinton hits Chicago on March 29 for a fund-raiser at the North Side home of Raj Fernando. A check for $2,300 gets you a photo and the reception.

excerpt from Sen. Barack Obama speech on the fifth anniversary of the Iraq War and national security...in North Carolina, with a May primary.

Senator Clinton says that she and Senator McCain have passed a “Commander in Chief test” – not because of the judgments they’ve made, but because of the years they’ve spent in Washington. She made a similar argument when she said her vote for war was based on her experience at both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue. But here is the stark reality: there is a security gap in this country – a gap between the rhetoric of those who claim to be tough on national security, and the reality of growing insecurity caused by their decisions. A gap between Washington experience, and the wisdom of Washington’s judgments. A gap between the rhetoric of those who tout their support for our troops, and the overburdened state of our military.

WASHINGTON-- The fifth anniversary of the start of the Iraq War is today and is a peg for President Bush and the presidential candidates to talk about the war. I'll be posting speeches and videos from Bush, Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) and Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.)

WASHINGTON--Dig in. The Clinton Library on Wednesday released 11,000 pages of schedules from Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's days as first lady. LINK

This comes as Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) is calling Clinton secretive and calling for her release of first lady records, income tax returns and Clinton library and foundation donors.

In a release, the Clinton campaign said, "Sen. Obama and his campaign like to talk about transparency. We call on him to back up his words with action and release his schedules and other records from his time as an Illinois State Senator."

WASHINGTON—Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) heads to Michigan on Wednesday as she presses ahead for a do-over election in the state and Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) and his team are raising serious questions about how it can be legally done. Clinton needs Michigan to catch-up with Obama’s delegate count. Obama lawyer Bob Bauer said the private funding proposal to pay for another Michigan vote would allow now illegal soft money back into politics.

While Florida Democrats gave up on a second vote, Michigan Democrats have not. Both Michigan and Florida were stripped of delegates by the Democratic National Committee after they held January votes in order to elbow in the early state (Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina) franchise.

The DNC seems open to exploring another Michigan vote. Dueling memos from the Obama and Clinton campaigns and the latest from the DNC below.

WASHINGTON--Greta Van Susteren, host of Fox News "On the Record," covered Sen. Barack Obama's speech in Philadelphia on Tuesday and posted pictures she snapped of the Chicago Sun-Times Lynn Sweet, Fox News Major Garrett and Obama media consultant Jim Margolis. LINK TO VAN SUSTEREN PICTURES

PHILADELPHIA, PA.- -Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.), hoping to sideline a controversy that threatens his presidential quest, said Tuesday he will not “disown” the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, as he pleaded for understanding that simmering anger in this county—from blacks and whites—fuels “a racial stalemate we’ve been stuck in for years.”

Obama is trying to extricate himself from the crisis prompted by the surfacing of racially inflammatory sermons preached by his spiritual mentor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, the senior pastor at Trinity United Chuch of Christ on Chicago’s South Side.

Obama admitted in his speech that he personally heard some of Wright’s fiery rhetoric. “Did I know him to be an occasionally fierce critic of American domestic and foreign policy? Of course. Did I ever hear him make remarks that could be considered controversial while I sat in the church? Yes.”

On Friday, Obama, in an interview with the Chicago Sun-Times, Obama said something different. “I'll be honest with you. I wasn't in church when any of those sermons were issued.”

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clintonphiladelphiamarch182008 001 (Photos by Lynn Sweet)

PHILADELPHIA, PA.--UPDATES--1. Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) said the National Archives will be releasing possibly on Wednesday11,000 pages of schedules from her days as first lady.

2. She addressed the speech on race and his pastor, Rev. Jeremiah Wright that Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) made here Tuesday morning. She said, "I did not have a chance to see or to read yet Sen. Obama’s speech, but I’m very glad that he gave it. It’s an important topic," she said. "Issues of race and gender in America have been complicated throughout our history, and they have been complicated in this primary campaign. There have been detours and pitfalls along the way."

"It is totally unfair," said former Amb. Joe Wilson, to characterize President Bush's war as "Hillary Clinton's war.'

I am in the glorious mayoral conference room in the Philadelphia City Hall. An interesting line-up just came out with Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.), in the city of Brotherly Love the same day as rival Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) The Obama campaign has accused Clinton of embellishing her foreign policy experience.

Here to testify to the contrary is former CIA agent Valerie Plame, of Plamegate fame; her husband, former Amb. Joe Wilson and Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter. Plame and Wilson--he disputed the Bush claim of WMD want to bolster Clinton's creditionals as commander-in-chief.

PHILADELPHIA, PA.--The following is a transcript of March 18, 2008 remarks, as delivered, of Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.)where he speaks about his relationship with the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, senior pastor of the Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago.

obamaphiladelphiamarch182008 004 (photo by Lynn Sweet)
PHILADELPHIA, PA.--Speaking right now, Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) said he did hear Rev. Jeremiah Wright make controversial remarks while he sat in church. But he is also a man, Obama said, who helped him find his Christian faith and leads a church trying to do "God's work" on earth--the South Side of Chicago.

"I can no more disown him than I can disown the black community. I can no more disown him than I can disown my white grandmother – a woman who helped raise me, a woman who sacrificed again and again for me, a woman who loves me as much as she loves anything in this world, but a woman who once confessed her fear of black men who passed her by on the street, and who on more than one occasion has uttered racial or ethnic stereotypes that made me cringe.'

Earlier in the speech Obama said, "Did I know him to be an occasionally fierce critic of American domestic and foreign policy? Of course. Did I ever hear him make remarks that could be considered controversial while I sat in the church? Yes. Did I strongly disagree with many of his political views? Absolutely – just as I’m sure many of you have heard remarks from your pastors, priests, or rabbis with which you strongly disagreed," Obama said.

He just said, "This is where we are right now. It’s a racial stalemate we’ve been stuck in for years. Contrary to the claims of some of my critics, black and white, I have never been so naïve as to believe that we can get beyond our racial divisions in a single election cycle, or with a single candidacy – particularly a candidacy as imperfect as my own."

PHILADELPHIA, PA.—Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) was up late last night putting the finishing touches on the most important speech of his presidential campaign to be delivered this Tuesday morning—an effort to talk about race in America and address the swelling controversy about his relationship to his controversial minister the Rev. Jeremiah Wright.

Obama “finished essentially about two in the morning,” said his top strategist, David Axelrod.

Author Gail Sheehy, who is here at the speech site--The Constitution Center-- said she will be listening to Obama’s speech to see “if Obama can explain that positive mission (of his church Trinity United Church of Christ) as opposed to letting it be defined as black separatism.”

PHILADELPHIA, PA.--Words are powerful--whether Sen. Barack Obama's soaring, unifying rhetoric or the divisive language from his pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright. "Just words," as Obama often has observed, fuel movements of hope and change. Obama's words--in a speech here Tuesday near Independence Hall--about race and Wright will determine if his campaign will be crippled by the Wright controversy.

But if his approach is to "blame Washington" for his political problems stemming from his association with Wright and Tony Rezko--an Obama fund-raiser now on trial in Chicago on federal corruption charges--as he did in an interview Monday with Gwen Ifill of PBS, it will be harder to get this episode behind him. A major strategic plank of the Obama campaign is to run against Washington.

Ifill asked if his relations with Rezko and Wright reflected on his judgement. Obama said, "And probably what’s true is because I haven’t been in Washington as long as Senator Clinton or others that I have not distanced myself from these people for as long a period of time as somebody more steeped in Washington politics might have."

Obama did not blame Washington on Saturday, when he spoke in Plainfield, Ind. about Wright, previewing how he might handle things Tuesday. In that speech, he said right off some of Wright's statements "were incendiary" and he rejected that language.

HIGHLAND PARK, ILL.--Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) said his Philadelphia speech on Tuesday will touch on Rev. Jeremiah Wright--whose controversial comments could cripple Obama's presidential bid--as part of a broader explanation about the African-American church community.

At a press conference in Monaca, Pa. Obama said, " You know, I’m going to be talking about not just Reverend Wright, but the larger issue of race in this campaign which has ramped up over the last couple of weeks. So I don’t want to give a full preview or you might not come to the speech.

" But as I’ve said in my statement, I think the statements that were the source of controversy from Reverend Wright were wrong and I’ve strongly condemned them. I think the caricature that’s being painted of him is not accurate. And so part of what I’ll do tomorrow is talk a little about how some of these issues are perceived from within the black church community for example, which I think views this very differently.

HIGHLAND PARK, ILL.--Looking at a primary season that now could stretch to June, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) lays out her Puerto Rican agenda on Monday in advance of the June primary on the island.

The Obama campaign Sunday called Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton a "veteran of non-disclosure" and, opening a new front, challenged her to release information about her income taxes, Bill Clinton's foundation and library donors, earmark requests and first lady records. The Clinton team said raising questions about her integrity is a "personal attack."

While Clinton and Sen. Barack Obama were cordial when they met on the Senate floor Thursday -- Clinton said they talked about keeping their hotly contested primary fight on the issues -- the top strategists and spokesmen for their respective campaigns in conference calls Sunday were anxious to deal with more contentious matters of ethics and transparency.

HIGHLAND PARK, ILL.-With divisive remarks made by his pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright still in the news--and threatening his presidential quest--Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) on Tuesday in Philadelphia will address issues of race and politics in what is being billed as a major speech.

A new Rasmussen poll shows Wright with 8 percent favorably and 73 percent say Wright's comments are racially divisive. LINK

HIGHLAND PARK, ILL.--Rock star Sir Elton John performs solo at a Clinton fund-raiser April 9 at Radio City Music Hall in New York.

Despite the efforts of Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) to get beyond stories linking him to the fiery rhetoric of Rev. Jeremiah Wright, the retired pastor of his church, Trinity United Church of Christ, the matter is not going to go away soon. The new minister, Rev. Otis Moss III said in a statement issued this Palm Sunday that Wright’s “character is being assassinated.”

“Nearly three weeks before the 40th commemorative anniversary of the murder of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., the Reverend Dr. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr.’s character is being assassinated in the public sphere because he has preached a social gospel on behalf of oppressed women, children and men in America and around the globe,” Moss said.

“Dr. Wright has preached 207,792 minutes on Sunday for the past 36 years at Trinity United Church of Christ. This does not include weekday worship services, revivals and preaching engagements across America and around the globe, to ecumenical and interfaith communities. It is an indictment on Dr. Wright’s ministerial legacy to present his global ministry within a 15- or 30-second sound bite.”

I asked Trinity spokesman Angila M. Faison if a lot of reporters came to the church today. “As you can imagine,” she said.

click below for full statement

PLAINFIELD, Ind. — At a rally here, Sen. Barack Obama said he wouldn’t blame the people in the packed high school gym Saturday if they were “shocked” about “incendiary” statements from his former pastor — words he said he rejected.

“We’ve got a lot of pent-up anger and bitterness and misunderstanding,” said Obama, not mentioning the Rev. Jeremiah Wright by name.

The Obama campaign, clearing its decks in advance of turning up the ethics and transparency heat on Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) released on Sunday a list, which had been previously requested by the Chicago Sun-Times, of charities receiving campaign money linked to Tony Rezko, on trial in a Chicago courtroom on federal corruption charges.

click below for list.

The Obama campaign, clearing its decks in advance of turning up the ethics and transparency heat on Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) released a list of federal donors who were solicited to give by Tony Rezko, on trial in a Chicago courtroom on federal corruption charges. Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.), speaking to the Chicago Sun-Times on Friday was asked if he kept a bundler list for his 2004 Senate campaign. Bundlers are people who use their personal networks to raise money for a candidate. Most major campaigns do keep track of bundlers, in order to stroke and cultivate their most active fund-raisers.

Q: And for the Obama '04 campaign, did you keep a bundler list?

A: No

Q: Is that unusual?

A: Keep in mind that Tony raised money for me primarily in the primary. That was really when he was most active. And we started with eight people. It was a real stretch just to raise the first $250,000.

Tony Rezko wasn't involved primarily in bundling. We've kept track of who our bundlers are, and we disclose them. That's been a routine practice since I've been in the U.S. Senate.

This from Obama presidential campaign spokesman Ben LaBolt..

Below is a list of contributions to Barack Obama's federal campaigns that we determined could by reasonably credited to Mr. Rezko's political support.

This list is provided to respond to requests for a detailed accounting and it is not in any way meant to suggest questions or concerns about the specific individuals identified. Their contributions are included because they could be credited to Mr. Rezko's efforts on behalf of the campaign. The campaign has concluded in these circumstances that it should not retain these funds, and it has donated them to charity.

Here is a transcript of Sen. Barack Obama's discussion with reporters, editors and the editorial board of the Chicago Sun-Times Friday, regarding his relations with indicted fund-raiser Tony Rezko and inflammatory statements of Rev. Jeremiah Wright, who, until his retirement, was Obama's pastor at the Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago. LINK

CHICAGO--The Obama campaign plane just landed at Midway, returning from Indianapolis. Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) on Saturday continued to put distance between himself and the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, his minister until he retired. (see prior post) The word is not to expect Obama to attend services Sunday at his church, Trinity United on Chicago's South Side.

Views and analysis--all with different takes-- by four Chicago Sun-Times columnists following Obama's Friday visit to the Chicago Sun-Times, where he discussed his relationships with Tony Rezko and the Rev. Jeremiah Wright.

Mary Mitchell LINK

Mark Brown LINK

Carol Marin LINK

Lynn Sweet LINK

CHICAGO--In an extraordinary day in his more than yearlong quest for the presidency, Sen. Barack Obama on Friday sought to put behind him two raging controversies jeopardizing his bid: his relationships with his minister, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, and with his friend and political patron, Tony Rezko.

Obama held two extensive, separate sessions with journalists from the Chicago Sun-Times and the Chicago Tribune. An unassuming Obama entered a 10th-floor Sun-Times conference room for a conversation Friday, not as the hotshot at a rally. It was his moment — his time, as he himself might say — to try to bring this to an end.

“I think it’s really important to make sure that you guys feel like you’ve got it all,” Obama said.

PLAINFIELD, IND.—Referring to the heated tone of the Democratic presidential race—and rejecting again inflammatory rhetoric of his pastor the Rev. Jeremiah Wright while invoking the name of Bobby Kennedy, Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) said Saturday that the “forces of division” have started to raise their “ugly heads” again.

Speaking in a gym at Plainfield High School, making his first visit to Indiana of his presidential campaign in advance of the May primary here, Obama said “everybody, you know, senses there has been this shift.”

This comes as Obama is trying to distance himself from Wright, whose controversial sermons—on videotape—threaten Obama’s presidential quest. Obama talked about Wright in his stump speech as a man of fiery rhetoric—but one who talked to him about Jesus.” Obama's reference to Kennedy is about a speech he made in this state after the assassination of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

INDIANAPOLIS, IND.—Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), the presumptive GOP nominee, was in Chicago on Friday for fund-raising—though his campaign declined to disclose where. Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) on Saturday night has a high-end fund-raising reception at a home in Lakeview, —he did not reval the hosts or the host committee, but I have the list below.

That’s followed by a lower dollar gathering that was disclosed and where Crain’s Chicago Business columnist Greg Hinz will serve as the pool reporter.

While McCain’s schedule routinely notes his finance events on his daily schedule, his campaign refused yesterday to release details of where he is going in the city to raise political cash. That’s hardly the mark of a transparent candidate. At issue here is at least knowing the barebones details. Arguing for press access is another matter. Anyway, my Chicago Sun-Times colleague Abdon Pallasch said the McCain funder was to be at the Chicago Hilton and Towers on S. Michigan Ave.

“It's at the Hilton, competing for elbow room with The Irish American Fellowship Club and every other thirsty Irishman trying to crowd into Kitty O'Shea's,” Pallasch reports.

The high-end Obama reception is at the home of Jonathan Pizer and Brad Lippitz ;who live in the heart of Lakeview. Hosts for the event had to raise $15,000; tickets were $1,000 each. After that Obama will dash over to Gallery 1028 at 1028 Hooker Street on the city’s Near North Side for a reception at $200 per person, $50 for students.

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obamasuntimes 004 from left, Sun-Times reporter Tim Novak; columnist Carol Marin; reporter Chris Fusco; Springfield Bureau Chief Dave McKinney; editorial page editor Tom McNamee; publisher Cyrus F. Freidheim Jr. listen as Marin questions Sen. Barack Obama. Above, Obama and Sun-Times editor-in-chief Michael Cooke (photos by Lynn Sweet)

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Fusco and Obama looking at documents.

AUDIO LINK to listen to Obama's Chicago Sun-Times interview.
CHICAGO--White House hopeful Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) tells the Chicago Sun-Times in an exclusive interview Friday that Tony Rezko--on trial for corruption charges-- is still a friend: "with the caveat if it turns out the allegations are true, then he’s not who I thought he was, and I’d be very disappointed with that.

"I would say I was shocked as a lot of people in Chicago were shocked to lean the difficult financial straits he was in because no one suspected that at the time."

CHICAGO---This just in from Obama spokesman Tommy Vietor

"Rev. Wright is no longer serving on the African American Religious Leadership Committee."

CHICAGO—White House hopeful Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) is granting extensive interviews to the Chicago Sun-Times and the Chicago Tribune on Friday afternoon in an effort to get behind him questions about Antoin "Tony" Rezko,

“I want to make sure you guys have it all,” Obama said as he sat down with Sun-Times reporters, editors and editorial board members.


CHICAGO--White House hopeful Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) writes for the Huffington Post LINK about the Rev. Jeremiah Wright he knows: a former U.S. Marine and bible scholar who has lectured at seminaries across the country, not the divisive figure whose inflammatory comments about the U.S. and Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) are coming under increasing scrutiny.

"The pastor of my church, Rev. Jeremiah Wright, who recently preached his last sermon and is in the process of retiring, has touched off a firestorm over the last few days. He's drawn attention as the result of some inflammatory and appalling remarks he made about our country, our politics, and my political opponents," Obama writes.

"Let me say at the outset that I vehemently disagree and strongly condemn the statements that have been the subject of this controversy. I categorically denounce any statement that disparages our great country or serves to divide us from our allies. I also believe that words that degrade individuals have no place in our public dialogue, whether it's on the campaign stump or in the pulpit. In sum, I reject outright the statements by Rev. Wright that are at issue.

WASHINGTON -- Sen. Barack Obama, who had been declining to reveal earmarks he requested in 2005 and 2006, finally did so Thursday and probably would prefer the story to be about how his campaign challenged Democratic presidential rival Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, to do the same for her entire Senate tenure.

Instead, since I have some reporting history here, I am noting a pattern that has emerged: This is Obama's third ethical conversion of convenience -- taking on a higher standard, but only when it appears to be politically expedient. Obama is making government transparency and ethics a centerpiece of his presidential campaign.

The Obama record:

WASHINGTON--ABC News threw a spotlight on Sen. Barack Obama's controversial minister, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright--reviewing a selection of Wright's sermons, highlighted his anti-U.S. rhetoric. In an increasingly tense race--Wright's words may create problems for Obama. This follows uproars over statements from Obama foreign policy adviser Samantha Power and Clinton fund-raiser Geraldine Ferraro; in this heated atmosphere, both were cut recently from their respective campaigns. Obama's "Audacity of Hope" title of his second book comes from a Wright sermon.

In the excerpt of a sermon below, Wright rallies against "rich white people" and Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton.

WASHINGTON--After refusing since June to make public earmark requests from 2005 and 2006, Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) is releasing Thursday all the earmark requests he has made since he entered the Senate in 2005.

This disclosure was made just before the campaign starts a conference call with Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) to discuss congressional earmarks. This interest in earmarks comes as Obama and Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) --knowing one of them will face anti-earmark Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) in the fall--have signed on to a bill calling for a one-year earmark moratorium. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) is against an earmark moratorium.

Here's one highlight: Obama sought money for the University of Chicago Hospitals. Wife Michelle works for the University of Chicago Hospitals, appointed in spring 2005 as vice president for community and external affairs at the University of Chicago Hospitals. She is now on leave from the job to campaign for her husband. Top campaign adviser and friend Valerie Jarrett is the Chair of the University of Chicago Medical Center Board and also Chair of the Executive Committee of that board. She has also been named Vice-Chair of the University's Board of Trustees. Obama taught at the U. of Chicago law school and the Obama's two daughters attend school there.

from the Obama campaign

Obama Requested $1 Million For Construction Of A New Hospital Pavilion At The University Of Chicago. In 2006, Obama requested that the University of Chicago receive $1 million to support its Construction of New Hospital Pavilion. For more than 75 years, the University of Chicago Hospitals (UCH) has provided state of the art medical care on the South Side of Chicago. UCH is one of the largest Medicaid providers in Illinois, and it provided more than $90 million in uncompensated care for Medicare and Medicaid patients this past year. To continue providing the best care for patients from all walks of life, UCH is proceeding with the construction of a new 600,000 square foot facility that will ensure their ability to provide the best care for patients well into the future. Funding will go towards assisting the construction and equipping a new hospital pavilion that will increase the Hospitals' clinical capacity by over one-third. [Obama Request Letter to the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and Water, 4/7/06]

WASHINGTON—The Clinton psy-ops push today is to make the storyline that Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) is somehow not serious about running in Pennsylvania—with a crucial April 22 primary—and to raise the importance of winning in the Keystone state, the last mega-state on the primary calendar.

WASHINGTON—With a showdown looming in Pennsylvania, a debate between Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) is in the works—for April 17 at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia.

Clinton and Obama have accepted ABC's invitation for an April 16 debate in Philadelphia at the National Constitution Center.

Obama has said yes to a April 19 denate in North Carolina, moderated by Katie Couric and Bob Scheiffe, CBS News.

I hear that Rep. Bob Brady (D-Pa.), the Philadelphia Democratic boss—and an uncommitted superdelegate—is working to make the debate happen. The National Constitution Center—near historic Independence Hall and the new Liberty Bell Center—is in Brady’s district.

WASHINGTON—Former Democratic vice presidential candidate Geraldine Ferraro was distanced from the Clinton campaign on Wednesday, the latest casualty in the contentious race between Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) and Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) where backers with loose lips have had to be jettisoned.

Clinton campaign spokesman Phil Singer said Ferraro “stepped down,” as Ferraro tried on Wednesday in interviews to explain remarks she made about Obama that were taken—she strongly said incorrectly—in a racial context. Ferraro had been on Clinton’s finance committee. Ferraro was the first female on a major party ticket when Walter Mondale tapped her in 1984.

WASHINGTON--Needing to bolster his commander-in-chief creditionals, Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) is rolling out on Wednesday in Chicago a string of retired military brass who are is supporters.

Though the event was billed as Obama "receives" endorsements--implying something new--some have previously endorsed the Democratic presidential candidate for example, retired Air Force General Merrill “Tony” McPeak and retired Air Force Major General Scott Gration.

Click below for names, statement

WASHINGTON--The Clinton campaign National Security DirectorLee Feinstein raises questions--literally, he has a list--in advance of Barack Obama's press conference in Chicago with retired military brass.

click below for memo...

WASHINGTON-Coming off a big Mississippi primary win, Obama campaign manager David Plouffe in a Wednesday conference call said as “creative” as the Clinton campaign wants to be in “trying to create new paths for themselves to the nomination,” the delegate math is not there. And with that Plouffe resumes his math-as-destiny argument that was muted after Clinton won Texas and Ohio.

The Plouffe comment came in advance of an Obama press conference with retired admirals and generals in Chicago at the Chicago Historical Society in Lincoln Park.

WASHINGTON--In the wake of Republicans making it a talking point, MSNBC "Hardball" host Chris Matthews asks Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) if his middle name matters in an interview Tuesday after Obama's Mississippi victory.

MATTHEWS: U.S. Congressman Steve King of Iowa as a Republican said that the radical Islamists will be dancing in the streets if you're elected president. He said your middle name does matter. What's your response?

OBAMA: Well -- I think this is the way a guy like Steve King gets on TV or radio. But, let's look at the facts. Terrorist recruitment has increased significantly since we went into Iraq. If anything, the policies that George Bush has followed and that John McCain and Hillary Clinton supported, in going into Iraq, has been an enormous boon. And al Qaeda has been able to strengthen itself because the pressure was taken off them and they are now stronger than any time since 2001.

click below for complete interview

WASHINGTON -- The National Republican Congressional Committee -- which pumped some $1.2 million into the House bid of GOP nominee Jim Oberweis, only to see him lose the seat in Republican hands for decades to Democrat Bill Foster -- will be reluctant to write more checks when the two face off again in November.

And with four Illinois House seats in play in the fall, the House Republicans will also have to deal with presidential contender Sen. Barack Obama, who helped propel Foster to victory.

print version of earlier blog post

FAIRLESS HILLS, Pa. -- By the end of Tuesday -- and after the Obama campaign raised a ruckus -- Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton distanced herself from race-related comments about Sen. Barack Obama made by a backer, 1984 former Democratic vice presidential nominee Geraldine Ferraro, the first female on the ticket of a major party.

Obama called the remarks "divisive," and Clinton said it is "regrettable" when supporters "veer off into the personal."

“I am grateful to the people of Mississippi for joining the millions of Americans from every corner of the country who have chosen to turn the page on the failed politics of the past and embrace our movement for change. Americans need a President in Washington who will bridge our differences instead of exploit them, take on the lobbyists instead of taking their money, and concentrate on fighting for your future instead of their own. That’s what I’ve done over the course of my two decades of public service, and that’s the message I’ll bring to Americans in the remaining ten contests left in this nominating process,” said Barack Obama.

obamafairlesspamarch112008 001 Barack Obama taking a tour Tuesday of the Gamesa Wind Corporation factory in Fariless Hills, Pa. The factory makes component parts to make wind energy turbines. The large object in the background is a nacelle, which goes on top of a wind tubine. (Photos by Lynn Sweet)
obamafairlesspamarch112008 002
FAIRLESS HILLS, PA.—The Obama team on Monday called for the Clinton campaign to disavow remarks made by former Democratic vice presidential nominee Geraldine Ferraro for saying Obama would not be a contender for president if he were female of white.

Obama made his first comments about Ferraro in an interview with Josh Drobnyk of The Morning Call, based in Allentown.

"I don't think Geraldine Ferraro's comments have any place in our politics or in the Democratic Party. They are divisive. I think anybody who understands the history of this country knows they are patently absurd. And I would expect that the same way those comments don't have a place in my campaign they shouldn't have a place in Senator Clinton's either," Obama said. END UPDATE

from the Clinton campaign...

To: Interested Parties

From: The Clinton Campaign

Date: Tuesday, March 11, 2008

RE: Obama Campaign Attacks: Just Words

WASHINGTON (on Amtrak en route to Pennsylvania)--For a complete analysis of media coverage of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, check out this report by Journalism.Org LINK

print version of earlier blog post
WASHINGTON -- Sen. Barack Obama, facing a primary vote in Mississippi today, told voters there that rival Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton is trying to "bamboozle" and "hoodwink" them with talk that she would tap him to be her running mate, reminding people he is running to be "commander in chief."

"I have won twice as many states as Sen. Clinton. I have won more of the popular vote than Sen. Clinton. I have more delegates than Sen. Clinton. So I don't know how somebody who is in second place is offering the vice presidency to the person who is in first place," Obama said in Columbus, Miss.

from the Obama campaign...

To: Interested Parties

From: Greg Craig, former director, Policy Planning Office, U.S. State Department

RE: Senator Clinton’s claim to be experienced in foreign policy: Just words?

DA: March 11, 2008

WASHINGTON--Here is the Chicago Sun-Times LINK to the court exhibit in the Tony Rezko trial mentioning the name of then state Sen. Barack Obama, who was consulted about appointments to a state board.

And read the blog on the Rezko trial authored by my Sun-Times colleague Natasha Korecki who is covering the Rezko trial in Chicago. LINK

WASHINGTON--Presumptive GOP nominee Sen. John McCain (R-Az.) is heading to Israel, London and Paris; pals Sen. Joe Lieberman (D/I-Ct.) and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) are going with.

WASHINGTON---Frontrunning Democratic presidential contender Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) on Monday signed on to a one year earmark moratorium--embracing the cause that is the signature issue for Sen. John McCain (R-Az.), the presumptive GOP nominee. Obama--after seeking earmarks for Illinois for the three years he has been in the Senate--said he will not ask for any earmarks for Illinois this year. McCain seeks no earmarks for Arizona. Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) has wrangled a lot of earmark money for New York projects and causes.

What will Obama's taking a pass on earmarks mean for Illinois? Not much, since Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), on the Senate Apropriations Committee, handles most everything having to do with Illinois--especially in the more than a year Obama has been running for president In announcing his support for a moratorium, Obama noted that he has "championed greater disclosure requirements for earmarks." Obama has refused to disclose his earmarks for 2005 and 2006 while revealing his earmarks for 2007, the year he started running for president.

My Sun-Times colleague Robert Novak has a column in todays paper LINK with the background on the moratorium proposed by Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.)

Obama and Clinton are both signed on the DeMint amendment.

WASHINGTON--The Democratic Governors Association, coming to the aid of Democratic New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer--caught up in a probe of a high class hooker ring here--is asking the public to not jump to conclusions "until all the facts of this case are known."

The Republican Governors Association is asking Spitzer to step down.

A federal wiretap overheard Spitzer (D) seeking a date with a hooker last month. On Monday, Spitzer apologized to his wife and family in a very brief statement--and no questions.


WASHINGTON--Distracted by talk from the Clintons about a Clinton/Obama ticket, Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) on Monday got back on track by forcefully reminding Mississipi voters who have a primary election tomorrow that "I am running to be commander-in-chief" and not the number two spot.

Clinton is mounting a sort of “two for one” offense, to try to swing people who are torn between the two rivals to vote for her because they can get Obama on the ticket. That’s a trick, said Obama.

“See I was trying to explain to somebody a while back…the oki- doke. You all know the oki- doke. When somebody is trying to bamboozle you, when they are trying to hoodwink you. You…They are trying to hoodwink you," she said.

WASHINGTON—“C’est Moi! Barack,” so went a ribbing of White House hopeful Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) at the 123rd annual dinner of The Gridiron Club on Saturday night where he was gently mocked to a tune from “Camelot.” “I know—may I say—how well I think of me. As so, J.F.K. I shall be!’’

The Gridiron lyrics…..

(to the tune of “C’est Moi,” from “Camelot,” Music by Frederick Lowe, Lyrics by Alan Jay Lerner)
Obama, dressed like a knight in shiny armor

O-bama-lot! O-bama-lot!
As just a lad I heard the call.
O-bama-lot! O-bama-lot!
And aren’t you glad I’ll give my all?

I know—may I say—how well I think of me
As so, J.F.K. I shall be!

click below for rest....

WASHINGTON -- Backlash from two top Obama advisers -- Austan Goolsbee and Samantha Power -- has created enormous headaches for the Democratic presidential candidate. Goolsbee survived after visiting a Canadian consulate in Chicago, talking about NAFTA, triggering a cross-border incident. Power quit when it came out she called Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.) a"monster" in an interview, forcing her to step down Friday.

The bungles by these high-profile advisers come in a campaign, headquartered in Chicago, that has been generally free from personal error and rancor -- in contrast to Clinton's operation. Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) said when he started he wanted to build a "drama-free" team, and that's what he's got.

WASHINGTON--Samantha Power resigned as a foreign policy adviser to Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) after she called Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) a "monster" in an interview with The Scotsman newspaper. This is the second Obama advisor to stumble in recent weeks. Economic adviser Austan Goolsbee is at the center of a controversy over comments he made about NAFTA to a Canandian official.

Power was in London for a book tour and to headline fundraisers for Obama. Power was an ardent and passionate supporter of Obama who took almost a year off from her job as a professor at Harvard University to work in Obama's Senate office in 2006. She has been deeply involved in policy, youth outreach--she is a popular campus speaker--and fund-raising for Obama. She was due in Chicago on March 16 to headline a fund-raising event for Obama. Power is a Pulitizer Prize winning author for her book about genocide, "A Problem from Hell: America and the Age of Genocide." She just wrote "Chasing the Flame: Sergio Vieira de Mello and the Fight to Save the World."

On Friday morning, Clinton congressional supporters called for her ouster. Shortly after a Clinton conference call, Power quit. Her statement:

"With deep regret, I am resigning from my role as an advisor the Obama campaign effective today. Last Monday, I made inexcusable remarks that are at marked variance from my oft-stated admiration for Senator Clinton and from the spirit, tenor, and purpose of the Obama campaign. And I extend my deepest apologies to Senator Clinton, Senator Obama, and the remarkable team I have worked with over these long 14 months."

airportcuroutsmarch72008 003


airportcuroutsmarch72008 001
WASHINGTON--At the America political souvenir store at Reagan National Airport. (photos by Lynn Sweet)

LAWRENCE, Kan. -- Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) hauled in a record-setting $55 million for February, with the lion's share -- $45 million -- raised online. Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton raised $35 million, also a staggering amount for a month, until it is compared to Obama's total.

As Obama's Internet strength swells with low-dollar donors, he is ramping up another round of events, sending a team of surrogates on the presidential campaign trail in the U.S., England, Spain and France, the Sun-Times has learned. Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner are the draws later in the month at a Boston event for Obama.

WASHINGTON -- In the wake of failing to stop Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.) in the Tuesday contests -- and to deflect attention away from former pal Tony Rezko on trial for public corruption -- the campaign of Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) is stepping up calls for Clinton to disclose her income tax returns.

Clinton has been stalling, pleading that she needed time to get her papers together, as if the matter is just the return she will file in 2008 for income from 2007. Obama seized on it as an issue after Clinton's wealth got notice when she loaned $5 million to her campaign.

staffanddolemarch62008 007

LAWRENCE, KS.--On Thursday night I was part of a panel discussing the ongoing presidential primary campaign at the Robert J. Dole Institute of Politics at the University of Kansas.

From left, Jonathan Earle, Dole interim director; Tom Beaumont, Des Moines Register; Geoff Earle, New York Post; Lynn Sweet, Chicago Sun-Times.

LAWRENCE, KS. --The latest "state of the race" memo issued Thursday afternoon from Obama campaign manager David Plouffe.

(regarding the dateline....Today I am at the Robert J. Dole Institute of Politics at the University of Kansas. I am speaking on a panel about the presidential election tonight.P

KANSAS CITY, MO.--The Clinton campaign got a big on-line boost, taking in $4 million on-line since winning three states on Tuesday.

KANSAS CITY, MO.--The Obama campaign raised a stunning, record-setting $55 million in February, of which $54 million is available for the primary. This comes as Obama launches another heavy round of fund-raising, faced with a multi-million need for cash to finance the extra innings of the primary contest.

The Obama take swamps the $35 million the Clinton team hauled in last month.

BALTIMORE, MD.--The Obama campaign--under fire for not being more forthcoming on the Tony Rezko-Barack Obama relationship--is cranking up more pressure for Clinton to release her income tax returns.

BALTIMORE, MD.--The Obama campaign is claiming a five-delegate margin of victory in Texas, according to projections from the campaign.

BALTIMORE, MD.--White House press secretary Dana Perino discusses the ins and outs of how it is kosher for President Bush to endorse Sen. John McCain (R-Az.) for president in the Rose Garden

NASHVILLE, TENN.--On a conference call Wednesday, Harold Ickes, an adviser for Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) is asking for superdelegates who have not taken sides to stay uncommitted.

"This race is going to go right down to the wire," Ickes said.

The mesage to the superdelegates from Ickes: "Stand back."

Press Avail Transcript

Flight from San Antonio, TX to Chicago, IL

Wednesday, March 15, 2008

UPDATE Obama is joking when you read his reference to calling the top honcho at Saturday Night Live.

Hillary Clinton talks about a Clinton-Obama ticket on Wednesday morning.

From CBS
HARRY SMITH: And very quickly, we talked to a lot of people in Ohio who said there really isn't that significant a difference between you two, and they'd like to see you both on the ticket.

SEN. CLINTON: Well, that may, you know, be where this is headed. But, of course, we have to decide who's on the top of the ticket. (Laughs.) And I think that the people of Ohio very clearly said that it should be me. And, after all, no one in recent history has won the presidency who did not win their party's primary in Ohio, Harry. You know, Ohio --

MR. SMITH: As Ohio goes, yeah.

SAN ANTONIO, TEXAS--As he was leaving here for Chicago, Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.), the morning after the toughest week of his presidential run, told reporters he called Lorne Michaels producer of NBC's "Saturday Night Live." This report via Carrie Budoff Brown and Ben Smith at Politico. LINK UPDATE Turns out Obama was joking.

SNL helped get the ball rolling by running a skit about Obama's softball press treatment. And last Saturday (see previous blog) in a cartoon, Obama was portrayed trying to keep the Revs. Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton at a distance from his campaign.

SAN ANTONIO, Texas -- Tuesday's four-state balloting failed to resolve the Democratic contest. Sen. Barack Obama and Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton continue their battle, proving once again in this historic and roller-coaster race neither is the inevitable Democratic presidential nominee.

texas 002The Alamo. Photo by Lynn Sweet

texas 006 TSA screeners at Barack Obama rally in San Antonio. March 4, 2008. Photo by Lynn Sweet

SAN ANTONIO, TEXAS--A detail of the campaign trail that is interesting. At campaign events I've been at for Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) in several states, personnel from the Transportation Security Administration--the airport screeners--have been screening crowds.

texas 001

SAN ANTONIO, TEXAS--Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) clinches the GOP nomination in Texas, according to exit poll results announced by AP and CNN.

texas 004
Michelle and Barack Obama on the campaign plane during a press conference. March 4, 2008. Photo by Lynn Sweet.
SAN ANTONIO, TEXAS--Audio of Sen. Barack Obama press conference aboard his campaign plane courtesy of USA Today LINK

Excerpts from Obama presser on the plane

If you lose Ohio will you blame the NAFTA/Canada problem?

" I mean we were 20 points behind a couple weeks ago and now we’re in a virtual dead heat. So just remember where we were and where we’ve been."

Attack ads having an effect?

"Look I mean there’s no doubt that if you’re being attacked every day that it creates a sense of turbulence in the minds of people. Our job is just to make sure that we stay clear about how we are gonna fix healthcare, how we’re gonna provide affordable housing to people and affordable college educations, bring back jobs. Just remember what we’ve been doing has worked. It’s put us in a position now where I am you know confident that we can maintain a pledged delegate lead going into the convention. So there’s no reason why we would want to change our approach in terms of talking to voters."

EN ROUTE SAN ANTONIO--Aboard his campaign plane--and with wife Michelle beside him--Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) said he does not expect the results from Tuesday's balloting in four states, including the giant Ohio and Texas to clinch the nomination for him or Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.)

"It is very, very tight," he said, downplaying expectations.

"We started 20 points behind in Texas and Ohio. We've closed the gap. But, you know, whether it's going to be enough to actually win is going to depend on what the turnout looks like in both states. We know that there's not going to be a huge shift in delegates, one way or the other, just given the math, which means that, you know, either way we'll go on to Mississippi and Wyoming next week."

EN ROUTE SAN ANTONIO--On his campaign plane on Tuesday, Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) said that he was a "little surprised" the push by the Clinton campaign for Obama to get more scurtinized was working. The comment came a day after Obama was asked about his relations to Tony Rezko, on trial in Chicago on corruption charges and why his campaign at first denied an economic advisor met with a Canadian offiical and talked about NAFTA.

"I wa a little surprised that all the complaining about the refs actually worked as well as it did for them, this whole spin on how the press has been so tough on them and not tough on us," said Obama.

Clinton spokesman Howard Wolfson and Phil Singer--and the Clintons themselves--have stepped up their complaints that Obama is getting softball treatment.

HOUSTON, TEXAS--Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) plugs Democratic House nominee Bill Foster in a spot made for the Saturday special election for the the 14th congressional district in Illinois--the seat just vacated by former Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (D-Ill.) Foster faces GOP contender Jim Oberweis.

HOUSTON, TEXAS--Barack Obama wrapped up Monday at a rally here with his wife, Michelle. She was greeted by the crowd with the chant "first lady," "first lady."

"Wait," she said.

HOUSTON, TEXAS--This is a clip from the ABC News story about Barack Obama's press conference, showing how he brought it to an end. Includes a cameo from me at the end.

SAN ANTONIO, TEXAS—On Sunday, the chief strategist for the Obama campaign disagreed with my conclusion where I wrote that Obama has not talked to reporters who know the Tony Rezko story the best.

For more than a year, that has been a pretty small group of investigative journalists—from the Chicago Sun-Times and the Chicago Tribune. I checked with the Sun-Times reporters before I wrote my column and rechecked again. They all said they have never had a chance to discuss Rezko with Obama.

Obama communications chief Robert Gibbs makes the following points:
1. Obama appeared before the Sun-Times editorial board (it was late November or early December 2006) and was asked, Gibbs recalled only one Rezko question.

2 .That on Nov. 5, 2006 the Sun-Times ran a story by Dave McKinney and Chris Fusco that was based on a written Q&A exchange. The lede: Obama "expressed regret late Friday for his 2005 land purchase from now-indicted political fundraiser Antoin "Tony" Rezko in a deal that enlarged the senator's yard. "I consider this a mistake on my part and I regret it," Obama told the Chicago Sun-Times in an exclusive and revealing question-and-answer exchange about the transaction.

Gibbs said this rebuts a comment (after the click) from one of my colleagues about "who knows" who really provides these written replies and deserves a correction. There have been several rounds of e-mail exchanges over the months.


There have been two times where Obama took questions on Rezko reporters—in Waukegan, Ill. in November, 2005 (transcript is reposted below) or LINK where none of the investigative reporters were present (SEE UPDATE TWO ON WHO WAS THERE) because Obama commented after a political event. There was also a hastily arranged April, 23, 2007, session where Obama talked to some Chicago reporters. The YouTube clip is from NBC5 and the Chicago Sun-Times.

UPDATE 2 Gibbs notes that Sun-Times reporter Chris Fusco--on the Rezko investigative team-- was at the Waukegan availabiltiy and Sun-Times reporter Tim Novak, another Rezko team member--was at the April press conference. There was an attempt to get Novak on the phone with Obama that day, but it was very last minute, Gibbs had told me previously.

Gibbs asked for a correction. I don't think one is needed. Instead these updates--amplifications-- are in order because the information helps provide a fuller picture.END UPDATE 2

SAN ANTONIO, TEXAS--The trial of influence peddler Tony Rezko is throwing a spotlight on his relationship with Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) The Clinton campaign, the day before crucial votes in Ohio and Texas, is doing everything it can to throw a spotlight on Obama's Rezko problem. Click below for the "Questions Sen. Obama Should Answer About Tony Rezko" memo from the Clinton campaign.

SAN ANTONIO -- Top military and foreign policy advisers for Sen. Barack Obama on Sunday pointed to Obama's 2006 Africa trip as a significant foreign policy achievement. I covered his outreach to the leaders of South Africa, Kenya and Chad. It's worth a reprise in the context of Obama's presidential campaign.

With more attention focused on frontrunner Sen. Barack Obama' (D-Ill.) his Chicago links to controversial figures are getting more attention. A primer on Tony Rezko, Austan Goolsbee, William Ayers, Bernardine Dohrn, Louis Farrakhan and Jeremiah Wright.

SAN ANTONIO -- With increasing frequency, Republicans are taking aim at Sen. Barack Obama as Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton faces an uphill fight to keep her presidential hopes alive. And several people from Chicago connected to Obama -- with the major figure being the indicted Tony Rezko -- could provide material his foes can use.

SAN ANTONIO, TEXAS--Here's my latest installment of What Things Cost on the campaign trail, an invoice from the Obama team for flights on the campaign plane last week. One day, Feb. 29, cost $1,092.56 for two flights in Texas. The tab for flying on the ATA 737 charter includes in-flight food service.

(Check a previous post for earlier billings)

Click below for invoice.

SAN ANTONIO, TEXAS--Saturday Night Live is the place to be for political action tonight.

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) made a surprise visit to NBC's Saturday Night Live show on Saturday, starring in a skit where she stood side-by-side in identical jackets with Amy Poehler, who plays her. "I simply adore Amy's impression of me," said Clinton as Poehler imitated her distinctive laugh.

"Do I really laugh like that?" Clinton said--with that laugh.

Poehler asked how's the campaign going? (Clinton has lost the last 11 contests)

"The campaign is going very well. Very, very well. Why? What did you hear?" said Clinton.

Clinton--who left the Ohio campaign trail to fly to New York to get ready for the show--told Poehler "no politics. But I would like to take this opportunity to say to all Americans, be they from the great state of Ohio, or Texas or Rhode Island or Vermont, Pennsylvania .(all states with upcoming votes)....Live, from New York, it is Saturday Night!"

Clinton appeared after a sketch where Poehler portrayed her in a take-off of Tuesday's Democratic debate in Cleveland where the SNL treatment made clear the writers thought that Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) was given powderpuff questions while Clinton was run over with a truck. During the debate, Clinton made reference to a SNL skit of last Saturday that dealt with media infautiation with Obama.

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Lynn Sweet

Lynn Sweet is a columnist and the Washington Bureau Chief for the Chicago Sun-Times.

About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the 2008 Race for the White House category from March 2008.

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