: Monday, June 30, 2008 6:00 PM
Subject: MCCAIN POOL REPORT #3
McCain Pool Report #3
McCain spoke at length about his upcoming trip to Latin America, as well as
delving into energy and other issues during the Straight Talk Express ride.
When asked about why he was going to tout the virtues of free trade abroad at
a time when many Americans have grown increasingly skeptical of such agreements,
the senator said he had no intention of backing away from such a longstanding
Washington Post Jonathan Weisman \ Monday, June 30, 2008 2:35 PM
Subject: Obama's Independence Day pool report
Norton Canfield, a gray-haired, bearded park ranger with a braided pony tail, took Sen. Obama on the tour of Harry Truman’s stately, turn-of-the-century white Victorian home, first telling him that Bess Truman had died there at the age of 97. Obama inquired what Bess’s family had done to acquire such a house, which though no McMansion, must have been impressive for the time. Canfield answered that her father had been a wheat miller. Who knew?
Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama may be the most liberal senator by one group’s scorecard, and the Democratic Leadership Council may be a centrist organization trying to pull the Democratic party away from the left.
But with the smell of victory in the air, no one at the DLC convention in Chicago is quibbling with the presumptive nominee’s positions.
I just heard from Obama spokesman Ben LaBolt....regarding presumptive Democratic nominee Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) not appearing before the Democratic Leadership Council, holding a big meeting in Chicago...Obama's absence has "absolutely" nothing to do with a DLC honcho being Clinton backer .B. Pritzker, said LaBolt. (see earlier blog)
WASHINGTON--A few minutes after the McCain conference call concluded--where Barack Obama was called on to reject comments made by retired Gen. Wesley Clark (see blog item below) questioning John McCain's war record and his qualifications to serve as president, this statement from the Obama campaign: "As he's said many times before, Senator Obama honors and respects Senator McCain's service, and of course he rejects yesterday's statement by General Clark," said Obama campaign spokesman Bill Burton.
In a press conference in Harrisburg, Pa. McCain said those comments were unfortunate.
"For a young man of mixed race, without firm anchor in any particular community, without even a father’s steadying hand, it is this essential American idea – that we are not constrained by the accident of birth but can make of our lives what we will – that has defined my life, just as it has defined the life of so many other Americans."
...For those who have fought under the flag of this nation – for the young veterans I meet when I visit Walter Reed; for those like John McCain who have endured physical torment in service to our country – no further proof of such sacrifice is necessary. And let me also add that no one should ever devalue that service, especially for the sake of a political campaign, and that goes for supporters on both sides.
We must always express our profound gratitude for the service of our men and women in uniform. Period. Full stop."
Remarks of Senator Barack Obama
WASHINGTON—The McCain campaign on Monday is seizing on criticism retired Gen. Wesley Clark made about the qualifications of presumptive GOP nominee Sen. John McCain (R-Az.) to launch a “McCain truth squad” and to raise questions about the resume of rival Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) and whether he stands for a new kind of politics.
On Sunday, during an appearence on CBS’s “Face The Nation,” Clark, appearing as an Obama surrogate, said of McCain’s military record. "I don't think getting in a fighter plane and getting shot down is a qualification to become president.” He said that while McCain has been a force on the Senate Armed Services Committee “and he has traveled all over the world. But he hasn't held executive responsibility. That large squadron in the Navy that he commanded -- that wasn't a wartime squadron."
WASHINGTON--Presumptive presidential nominee Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) will meet with British, French and German leaders as part of overseas travel this summer to also include stops in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Chicago Sun-Times has learned. On Saturday morning, the Obama campaign,confirming the visits to Europe, said Israel and Jordan will also be part of the swing.
As first reported Friday evening in the Lynn Sweet blog, Obama decided to add the European meetings to a summer travel schedule already planned to include brief stops in Iraq and Afghanistan.
“This trip will be an important opportunity for me to assess the situation in countries that are critical to American national security, and to consult with some of our closest friends and allies about the common challenges we face,” said Obama in a statement.
Ths will be the first time that Obama has met with heads of state as a potential United States president. Embassies in Washington have been alerted that the Obama team is orchestrating meetings with German chancellor Angela Merkel, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and French President Nicolas Sarkozy. The trips and meetings will take place before the August Democratic presidential nominating convention in Denver.
The trips to Europe will be part of the Obama presidential campaign. The visits to the war zones will conducted as official congressional business.
Still, the trips will be merged in the minds of the public as Obama makes his first visit overseas since his 2006 stops in Africa, including a pilgramage to his father's homestead in Kenya. Republicans have been making an issue that Obama has only made one short visit to Iraq.
The Sarkozy visit is a bit of turnabout. Obama met with Sarkozy in his Senate office on Sept. 12, 2006, when Sarkozy was visiting the U.S. as a run-up to his presidential campaign.
WASHINGTON--In a spirit of Democratic unity, a cadre of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's most steadfast supporters--and fund-raisers-flew to Washington to hear from presumptive Democratic nominee Sen. Barack Obama make an appeal to them Thursday night.
Among those from the Chicago area present:
Bill Brandt, Lynn Cutler, J.B. Pritzker, Betsy Ebeling, Val Alexander, Tim Wright and Rashid Chaudary.
Excerpts....Unity, NH Obama and Clinton unity rally on June 27,2008
Now, I don't think it's at all unknown among this audience that this was a hard-fought primary campaign. We have traversed America, making our case to the American people. We have gone toe to toe in this hard-fought primary. But today and every day going forward, we stand shoulder to shoulder for the ideals we share, the values we cherish and the country we love.
We may have started on separate paths, but today our paths have merged. Today, our hearts are set on the same destination for America. Today, we are coming together for the same goal: to elect Barack Obama as the next president of the United States.
I was honored to be in this race with Barack, and I am proud that we had a spirited dialogue. That was the nicest way I could think of phrasing it. But it was spirited because we both care so much. And so do our supporters -- each and every one of you. And I am so proud and privileged today, here in Unity, to help bring together the 36 million Americans who supported us to create an unstoppable force for change we can all believe in.
"...............But if you think we need a new course, a new agenda, then vote for Barack Obama and you will get the change that you and me need and deserve.
And to anyone who voted for me and is now considering -- - not voting or voting for Senator McCain, I strongly urge you to reconsider.
WASHINGTON -- Penny Pritzker, national finance chairwoman for the Obama campaign, knew that if she was going to ask other people to help retire Sen. Hillary Clinton's primary debt, she would have to fork over some cash herself. So as I stood next to her Thursday night, Pritzker pulled out check 15179 from the joint JP Morgan Chase account she has with her husband and wrote a $4,600 check -- the maximum allowed from a couple -- to Clinton's campaign.
"You know, unity is important," Pritzker said before disappearing into a ballroom at the Mayflower Hotel here, where Clinton and Sen. Barack Obama made their first joint appearance since he clinched the Democratic nomination. The crowd of about 300 were Clinton's elite fund-raisers, and they came together in what for some was a bittersweet reception to hear from Obama.
Clinton needs Obama fund-raisers to help pay off her $10 million debt left from her primary campaign (she is not asking for the $12 million she lent to it). Despite an army of small donors, Obama needs these wealthy and well-connected people to help him raise the millions of dollars he needs to finance his run against Sen. John McCain. Federal law limits an individual contribution to $2,300 per person per primary or general election. And just as Pritzker and husband Bryan Traubert "maxed out," so did the Obamas: The senator and wife Michelle contributed $4,600 to Clinton's campaign.
Today, Clinton and Obama travel to the small town of Unity, N.H. -- where each got 107 votes in the January primary -- in a display of unity. But it will take more than a joint appearance. As Betsy Myers, the Obama campaign chief operating officer and head of women's outreach, told me, while many Clinton's supporters have moved on, "20 percent are still angry."
"We've tried to be really respectful of people's feelings," said Pritzker, from Chicago. She told me she is putting together a special task force to help raise money to pay off Clinton's debt, headed by her deputy finance chairman, David Jacobson.
Inside the ballroom, Clinton said to long applause, "We have to make it a priority in our lives to elect Barack Obama the next president of the United States." Obama told the Clinton backers that "I'm going to need Hillary by my side campaigning during his election.
When it comes to fund-raising, unity is something that can be counted, not just counted on. Some Clinton supporters want to see what Obama backers will deliver. J.B. Pritzker, a national fund-raiser for Clinton -- and Penny Pritzker's brother -- said, "We'll see. I hope the Obama folks will step up."
Clinton fund-raiser Bill Brandt said afterward that "the takeaway for senior players is, money talks and you know what walks. We want to see a near-term effort. It they don't get to the debt shortly, we are not going to be happy campers."
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WASHINGTON—UPDATE. After I raised the issue of opening the closed Obama-Clinton Thursday evening meeting with donors and fund-raisers to the press, the Obama campaign on Thursday afternoon agreed to allow a pool reporter to cover the event.
Meanwhile, I've learned that about 170 Clinton VIP donors are expected.There was going to be a small reception of the most elite donors with Obama and Clinton before the main reception for more exclusive meet and greet, but that was canceled.END OF UPDATE.
ORIGINAL Reporters are banned from covering the meeting presumptive Democratic nominee Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) and Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) are having Thursday night at the Mayflower Hotel here with Clinton’s best fund-raisers. It is their first joint appearance since Obama clinched the nomination.
This event has everything to do with big money in politics yet the Obama campaign does not see any reason to at least include a pool reporter.
I pushed to have this event opened up on Wednesday, when I asked Obama campaign manager David Plouffe if he would allow in at least a pooler.
WASHINGTON--The general board of the AFL-CIO on Thursday is expected to endorse presumptive Democratic nominee Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.). The board will convene Thursday in a conference call to make it official. The endorsement brings what will be the AFL-CIO's largest voter mobilization ever--outreach to more than 13 million voters in 24 priority states in support of Obama. The labor federation has budgeted a record $53.4 million for their entire 2008 voting program, which includes down ticket races. Though it was not on his schedule, Obama met with AFL-CIO leaders and union presidents at the AFL-CIO building--down the street from the White House on June 18. Obama met the labor leaders--including AFL-CIO president John Sweeney--in a conference room for about 90 minutes for an informal discussion where he took a number of questions.
“Like so much about Barack Obama’s campaign, his campaign manager’s words don’t match reality. Obama wheezed across the finish line of his party’s nomination, losing the majority of primaries since March 4, including key general election battleground states like Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia. Obama continues to struggle with conservative Democrats and independents, and a new poll today shows the race a dead heat.” – Alex Conant, RNC Spokesman
RE: Plouffe’s statements on public financing
“It’s no wonder the Obama campaign is gaining a reputation of arrogance when its campaign manager has the gall to attack McCain on public financing days after Obama unapologetically broke his promise to the American people. Plouffe should spend more time explaining why Obama broke his word to the American people and less time echoing Howard Dean’s discredited talking points.” – Alex Conant, RNC Spokesman
WASHINGTON--Obama campaign manager David Plouffe--the general of Obama's "persuasion army" is explaining that the McCain team has made a mistake for which there may be no recovery.
"We don’t think he used that period from March 4 to June 3 very effectively," said Plouffe, pleased to take the in-kind donation from the rival camp.
Presumptive GOP nominee Sen. John McCain (R-Az.) locked up him nomination by March, while rival Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) fought it out with Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) through June. Meanwhile, McCain did not use his time well in defining who he is.
WASHINGTON--Obama campaign manager David Plouffe is doing a powerpoint now at the Democratic National Committee headquarters here, with a packed audience of political reporters. Plouffe's message: Obama has a lot of states in play, a lot of options to find 270 electoral votes. This is not a campaign that is going to be dependent on Florida or Ohio to win.
Said Plouffe, with a map of the Obama battleground states behind him, Obama has “A huge range of possibilities to get to 270."
WASHINGTON--Superinvestor Warren Buffett plays a double header in Chicago for presumptive Democratic nominee Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.),headlining not one but two $28,500 per-person raise or give fund-raisers on July 2. Buffett is the draw at a 7 p.m. dinner at the home of Obama national finance chair Penny Pritzker and her husband, Bryan Traubert, also chaired by Obama senior advisor Valerie Jarrett.
Before that, Buffett shares his financial wisdom with donors at a 90-minute "economic roundtable" hosted by Pritzker, Jarrett, Austan Goolsbee, the campaign senior economic chair and John Rogers Jr., the Obama campaign Illinois co-chair. The event will be at the offices of Rogers' Ariel Investments.
On NBC's "Meet the Press," Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) slammed by McCain backer Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) on Sunday for flip flopping on pledge to seek public campaign financing; defending the undefendable for Obama, Sen. Joe Biden (D-Del.)
Highlights below. Full transcript at click:
SEN. BIDEN: I'm--I think what you're seeing is two things. One, Barack is a politician, an honorable politician. What Barack Obama said, and he's kept his commitment, he would keep major influences out of his campaign and out of his presidency. It didn't fit within the matrix of public financing as we talked about it, but that was the purpose of public financing. That's the rationale. Put it another way. If everyone in America agreed that 80 percent of their contributions for House, Senate, and president could only come from people making contributions of $100 or less, we'd have a pretty darn good system. The influence of money would be gone. He was able to do it because people recognize something incredible about this guy. He is a tough politician. He is also Dr. Barack, as you said. He's a high-minded guy. But he's a guy who knows--he knows how--he'll know how to govern. The very things that people are looking at him now, they call him naive on the one side about being able to govern, and yet they talk about him being a hard-nosed politician on the other. The truth of the matter is this guy's a realist who's keeping his promise of keeping influence out, big money, big influence, out of the decision making process.
MR. WILLIAMS: Senator Graham, you heard that it turns out he's keeping his promise.
SEN. GRAHAM: It'd be news to everyone who listens to what he said, and this is just really sad for the country, for somebody with this much ability, this much talent, to, to fall this far this soon. The idea that we're going to change this country and do things that are hard and tough and keep one's word is music to the American people's ears. Well, let me tell you, what he did by breaking his promise is reinforce every bad thing wrong with politics. And you can talk about it, Joe, till the cows come home. This guy wants to win. He'll do anything to win, and the reason John McCain's going to beat him is because John's put the country ahead of the desire to win for himself, and that's going to be the defining issue in this election.
The Obama campaign on Sunday talking about policy on cracking down on wild oil markets that drive up gas prices, on a conference call with New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine, Elgie Holstein, Bill Clinton administration Energy Department chief of staff and Obama campaign new economic advisor Jason Furman.
*Get loopholes closed so the energy traders who are speculating and driving up prices come under regulations of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission.
*Ban on trading U.S. oil through foreign markets
*Work with other nations to coordinate oil futures markets.
*Calling again for probes: renewing call for the Federal Trade Commission do do something and called for the Bush Justice Department to investigate gas price jumps.
WASHINGTON -- Michelle Obama climbed into her charter jet Friday and flew here from Chicago for lunch and a speech -- I clocked it at seven minutes -- before an influential women's group whose board includes key supporters of Sen. Hillary Clinton.
Obama's brief appearance before the National Partnership for Women & Families -- she turned around and flew right back home when she was done -- shows how Obama is shaping her role as a potential first lady and how the Obama campaign is working hard to build bridges to the women who supported Clinton over presumptive Democratic nominee Sen. Barack Obama.
At a fund-raiser in Jacksonville, Fl., presumptive Democratic nominee Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) said he expects Republicans to inject race into the campaign. Pool report from John Broder, New York Times:
Obama “The choice is clear. Most of all we can choose between hope and fear. It is going to be very difficult for Republicans to run on their stewardship of the economy or their outstanding foreign policy. We know what kind of campaign they’re going to run. They’re going to try to make you afraid. They’re going to try to make you afraid of me. He’s young and inexperienced and he’s got a funny name. And did I mention he’s black?"
WASHINGTON--Presumptive Democratic nominee--who Thursday rejected public money for his general election campaign, relying instead on private donations--wildly inflates his claims that rival Sen. Barack Obama (D-Az.) campaign is bankrolled by lobbyists and PACs. Brooks Jackson over at FactCheck.Org concludes that Obama is wrong. LINK One of Obama's excuses for opting out of public financing was that McCain and allied Republicans are "fueled" by special interest money.
FactCheck.Org excerpt: "We find that to be a large exaggeration and a lame excuse. In fact, donations from PACs and lobbyists make up less than 1.7 percent of McCain's total receipts, and they account for only about 1.1 percent of the RNC's receipts."
Ira Teinowitz, the ace Advertising Age reporter--who knows the political ad spending business--he got his start covering Illinois politics back in the day--reports from inside the Obama ad shop about Obama's plans to buy national TV time during the Olympics. LINK
Advertising Age excerpt...
Though the Obama campaign is keeping mum about whether it will definitely run spots, it has asked NBC Universal about Olympics advertising including $500,000, $2 million and $4 million packages of ads. (NBC presented those along with a $10 million package.) It's not only a sign that the Obama camp has faith it can continue its stellar fundraising achievements but a signal that a widening field of battleground states has the candidate contemplating national broadcast buys. An Olympics buy could also allow Mr. Obama to reach out to a large swath of women.
"Obviously our buyers, when contemplating the election, look at a variety of options," said Jim Margolis, the GMMB partner who co-chairs the Obama advertising team. "You will probably see us looking at lots of things. There is a big difference between looking and buying."
There's also a big difference between Team Obama and Team McCain. Sen. John McCain's campaign has inquired about Olympics rates but hasn't asked for specific packages. Besides, with the Republican candidate lagging far behind in fundraising, such buys would take a huge chunk out of his budget before the conventions.
We do not agree with Senator Obama's rationale for opting out of the system. Senator Obama knew the circumstances surrounding the presidential general election when he made his public pledge to use the system.
ARLINGTON, VA -- U.S. Senator John McCain's presidential campaign today released the following statement by Communications Director Jill Hazelbaker concerning Barack Obama's announcement that he will not participate in the public financing system:
"Today, Barack Obama has revealed himself to be just another typical politician who will do and say whatever is most expedient for Barack Obama.
"The true test of a candidate for President is whether he will stand on principle and keep his word to the American people. Barack Obama has failed that test today, and his reversal of his promise to participate in the public finance system undermines his call for a new type of politics.
"Barack Obama is now the first presidential candidate since Watergate to run a campaign entirely on private funds. This decision will have far-reaching and extraordinary consequences that will weaken and undermine the public financing system."
WASHINGTON-The legacy of the sharp questioning of Tim Russert, who died Friday, is clear in this exchange he had in a Feb. 27 Democratic primary debate where as moderator, Russert challenged now presumptive Democratic nominee Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) about the pledge he made to opt for public financing. On Thursday, Obama announced he will not take public financing. "You may break your word," Russert asked. Obama replied, , "What I've said is, at the point where I'm the nominee, at the point where it's appropriate, I will sit down with John McCain and make sure that we have a system that works for everybody."
The entire exchange:
RUSSERT: Senator Obama, let me ask you about motivating, inspiring, keeping your word. Nothing more important.
Last year you said if you were the nominee you would opt for public financing in the general election of the campaign, try to get some of the money out. You checked "yes" on a questionnaire.
And now Senator McCain has said, calling your bluff, let's do it. You seem to be waffling, saying, well, if we can work on an arrangement here.
Why won't you keep your word in writing that you made to abide by public financing of the fall election?
Tim Russert’s private funeral service at Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Washington's Georgetown on Wednesday morning literally brought together the Democratic and Republican presumptive presidential nominees, Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) and Sen. John McCain (R-Az.). They sat together at the request of the Russert family and at the conclusion of the funeral I was told by someone who was there, the two men hugged.
I was honored to be invited to the memorial service for Russert in the Kennedy Center’s Concert Hall on Wednesday afternoon. The details of the wonderful speeches by Tom Brokaw, Betsy Fischer, Sister Lucille Socciarelli, Al Hunt, Mario Cuomo, Mike Barnicle, Maria Shriver, Brian Williams, Doris Kearns Goodwin and Luke Russert are the subject of many stories elsewhere. Here’s more.
No news. McCain spoke at fundraiser at Drake Hotel. Before he walked into the main ballroom, he spoke privately to a members of his Chicago finance committee and the campaign said he then took about 200 pictures with donors.
The hours were all pushed back, but campaign said McCain met with finance committee and appeared for photos.
Presumptive Democratic nominee Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.), who wants to be this generation's Kennedy, talks about the sense of history he had Wednesday night being in the Hickory Hill home of Ethel Kennedy, the widow of Robert F. Kennedy for a high dollar fund-raiser--$28,500 per person. The home--I was in it years ago--was then full of pictures of Kennedy family members--many familiar faces to many Americans. RFK children Max, Robert Jr. and Kathleen were at the Obama fund-raiser...Here's a detailed pool report from Washington Post reporter Anne Kornblut.
The Pool Report
A mostly newsless but breathtakingly poignant event (especially, I am sure,for those who paid $28,500 per person to attend). Obama spoke, and took three questions. The visual of the night: watching him hop in Ethel's golf cart and drive it down the hill, from the main house to the event. Audio/full transcript to follow, possibly not until the morning.
Here, then, is the tick-tock. From Hickory Hill, the fabled Ethel Kennedy homestead in McLean:
630 pm, when your pooler arrived: A golden retriever frolicked in the front yard while guests arrived by Lincoln towncar, Lexus and Subaru (one Hillary'08 bumper sticker spotted on a Subaru with Maryland tags parked in a long
line of donor cars on Chain Bridge road). Your pooler, not to be mistaken for one who had given $28,500 to the cause, was swept by Secret Service and quickly whisked off to the isolation of a remote poolhouse (unfussily
decorated with, among other things, a giant cardboard cutout of Obama, a mini air hockey table, many fading unframed photos of the Kennedys and a frozen-in-time poster of the Rory Kennedy movie "American Hollow").
WASHINGTON—Fashion giants designer Calvin Klein and Vogue editor Anna Wintour are among the hosts at high dollar fund-raisers Tuesday night headlined by Michelle Obama in Manhattan. Vogue contributor Andre Leon Talley is also a host.
The would be First Lady—a fan of Chicago designer Maria Pinto—first hits a $1,000-a-person reception at the Sikkema Jenkins Gallery on 530 West 22nd Street, off 10th Avenue. After that Michelle Obama headS to the Klein home for a dinner for bigger hitters raising $10,000
WASHINGTON--In a Tuesday morning conference call, the McCain campaign ripped presumptive Democratic nominee Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) for being soft on terror.
Former CIA head James Woosley said Obama's stand to give terrorists access to U.S. courts: “This is an extremely dangerous and an extremely naive approach to terrorism.”
McCain senior foreign policy advisor Randy Scheunemann said if Obama "got that 3 a.m. phone call"--a reference to an ad Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) ran before the Texas and Ohio primaries questioning Obama's experience--his response would be to "call the lawyers in the Justice Department." He also called Obama "delusional"
Scheunemann also stereotyped and disrespected the South Side of Chicago: These terrorists, he said, were not "your run -of- the mill drug dealers on the South Side of Chicago."
What got this round started: A wide ranging Obama interview by ABC's Jake Tapper Obama LINK
Obama said the terrorists who bombed the World Trade Center in 1993, were properly arrested, convicted and imprisoned. But the U..S. treatment of terrorists at Gitmo, for example present a different case to the world and gives other terrorists a recruiting tool.
Obama told Tapper, "And the fact that the administration has not tried to do that has created a situation where not only have we never actually put many of these folks on trial, but we have destroyed our credibility when it comes to rule of law all around the world, and given a huge boost to terrorist recruitment in countries that say, 'Look, this is how the United States treats Muslims.' So that, I think, is an example of something that was unnecessary. We could have done the exact same thing, but done it in a way that was consistent with our laws."
Former Vice President Gore--denied the presidency in 2000 because of the botched vote counting in Florida --could help presumptive Democratic nominee Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) in many states, especially Florida if he spends time there to energize Democrats who want, well, revenge. In the words of the late, great Tim Russert, it's "Florida, Florida, Florida." VIDEO LINK
WASHINGTON--Patti Solis Doyle, former Clinton campaign manager, jettisoned in the final months of the primary, joins the Obama team as the chief of staff to Obama's eventual runningmate. Former top Edwards campaign manager Jen O'Malley Dillon--who ran Iowa for Edwards-- is the Obama battleground states director. Shakeup in Michelle Obama staff--Stephanie Cutter--top Democratic advisor who comes out of the Ted Kennedy operation---is now senior advisor to the campaign and chief of staff to Michelle Obama. Cutter was also the Kerry campaign communications director. Veteran Obama Senate office top staffer Michael Strautmanis moves over to the campaign full time as a senior advisor.
The female picks help add some gender balance to a male-dominated top Obama staff.
FOOTNOTES: Don't read into the Solis Doyle appointment as a sign that former rival Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.) is moving up on the vice presidential short list. Rather, the opposite is probably more realistic. Solis Doyle now is the highest ranking Hispanic on the Obama campaign. She helps build a bridge to Clinton women to join the Obama camp.
Solis Doyle, the sister of Chicago alderman Danny Solis--has long known chief Obama strategist David Axelrod.
For names of first wave of Obama general election staff. click below...
WASHINGTON--Superinvestor Warren Buffett, the chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway--who with his daughter Susan early on spotted presumptive Democratic nominee Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) as a comer-- will headline a $28,500-per-person fund-raiser (to raise or give) July 2 at the Chicago home of Obama finance chair Penny Pritzker. Sharing host duties will be Obama senior advisor Valerie Jarrett.
FOOTNOTE: In a Dec. 4, 2004, column, I wrote about how Obama took a secretive flight to visit Buffett, urging Obama to be more open and transparent when he travels on government or political business. Since then, Obama has embraced transparency as a central plank of his candidacy. Obama a few weeks ago opened all his fund-raisers to at least a pool reporter and rival Sen. John McCain (R-Az.), under pressure, caved and last week opened what had been closed fund-raisers to the press.
Obama has evolved on transparency. Excerpt from my 2004 column, written just after he was elected to the Senate but not yet sworn in....
Obama continues, as I've noted in past columns, to not see much point in transparency about his activities; this was true during the campaign and remains so in the transition period before he is sworn into the Senate next month. I think Obama should be open and not secretive when he travels on government or political business.
click below for entire 2004 column, where Obama also talks about all the hype surrounding him....
Presumptive Democratic nominee Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) hit Philadelphia for a fund-raiser on Friday featuring former leading Clinton backers, Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell and Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter. Pool Report by Amy Chozick of the Wall Street Journal.
"No hard news. Rendell made some characteristically colorful comments and Obama took a few jabs at John McCain.
On Friday, Jimmy Kimmel interviewed presumptive Democratic nominee Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.). Here's the pool report from Amy Chozick of the The Wall Street Journal.
The interview was " via satellite from a conference room at the Sheraton in Philadelphia. The program will air on Sunday after the NBA finals. The interview was basketball themed and most of the questions were about, yes, basketball.
Questions are paraphrased unless they are in quotes.
Kimmel: Happy Fathers Day. What’s a typical Father’s Day at the Obama house?
Obama: We usually have some experiment with waffles or pancakes and there’s a lot of cleanup afterwards...They come with stuff we wouldn’t normally put on pancakes like whipped cream…. Then we go to church.
(insert from Lynn Sweet: The Obamas quit Trinity United Church of Christ on Chicago's South Side last week. end insert)
WASHINGTON--The senior senator from Illinois--Sen. Dick Durbin, the number two man in the Senate--was the first senator to endorse presumptive White House nominee Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) and was pushing him to run in the months Obama was considering his bid.
"As you know, Senator Durbin was the first United States Senator to throw his full support behind Barack Obama -- before he even officially announced his presidential bid. In fact, our online community played a pivotal role in getting Senator Obama to run, not to mention catapulting him to victory last Tuesday," said Durbin campaign manager Mike Daly in a new fund-raising appeal.
Durbin is a confidant and top advisor to Obama and his place in Obama's historic run was just the subject of a story in Roll Call titled "Durbin's Long Shot Pays Off." Durbin and his staff has also taken on the brunt of the Illinois responsibilities in the Senate since Obama started running for president in February, 2007, freeing him up to stump across the country. Durbin is running for a third term this November against a little known Republican.
Daly talks about Durbin's role in the Obama White House bid in a new low dollar fund-raising appeal. Durbin's high end donors and fund-raisers gathered in Washington for a few days earlier this week
WASHINGTON -- When I phoned the Obama press shop a few times in recent weeks to check out rumors about whether there was a videotape with Michelle Obama using the word "whitey," the campaign declined to issue a denial or to pass along the question to Michelle's staff to find out what might be fueling the rumors.
That's been a standard tactic in dealing with the mainstream press. Unless there is some evidence, ignore the matter and reporters for mainstream outlets probably won't publish anything about racially charged language without proof.
Presumptive Democratic nominee Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) hauled in $1.7 million at a Lincoln Park fund-raiser on Thursday night, the first of two events at private homes in Chicago. Referring to his rumor-fighting drive, Obama said of his rivals: "They’re going to try to make me into a scary guy. They’re even trying to make Michelle into a scary person."
One guest wrote "Hussein" as his middle name on his nametag as a joke, sort of a try to desensitive people to Obama's middle name. “They have these wonderful stickers that said, ‘Rick Hussein Fizdale,’” Mr. Obama said. “The theory was, we’re all Hussein.”
Under the new Obama campaign policy of allowing press to cover all fund-raisers--which I had been pushing for--here is the pool report of the funders by Julie Bosman of the New York Times with additional material provided by Abdon Pallasch of the Chicago Sun-Times.
WASHINGTON--Here's the unity picture developing for Friday. Presumptive Democratic nominee Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) stumps in the swing states of Ohio and Pennsylvania with arden supporters of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.), who were key to her primary victories.
The Obamas hold a town hall session in Columbus with Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland, who helped engineer Clinton's victory there. The senator headlines a fund-raiser in Philadelphia with Philadephia andMayor Michael Nutter, Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell--big Clinton boosters.
Two big high dollar Chicago Obama funders Thursday
The Chicago area Obama fund-raising elite gather Thursday at 5:45 p.m. at the home of Sara and James Hall (a few blocks from Halsted and Armitage) for a high dollar fund-raising “special reception” with presumptive Democratic nominee Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.).
The $28,500 per-person event benefits the Democratic White House Victory Fund.
The hosts are the Illinois Finance Co-Chairs Jim Crown and John W. Rogers Jr.
After that, Obama heads to the near West Side home of of Leah Missbach Day and F.K. Day for a 7:15 p.m. reception for his “Obama for America” warchest where donors are asked to give or raise $2,300.
WASHINGTON -- Presumptive Democratic nominee Sen. Barack Obama -- after first downplaying questions about the ethics of his chief vice presidential vetter Jim Johnson, the former Fannie Mae chief -- on Wednesday accepted his resignation.
WASHINGTON--The react From the Republican National Committee on Obama vice presidential vetter Jim Johnson quitting after news surfaced of his sweetheart mortgage and pay deals raised questions about why another vetter, Eric Holder--who played a role in President Clinton granting a controversial pardon to Marc Rich--is "still on his search committee."
Slapped back Obama spokesman Bill Burton, “We don’t need any lectures from a campaign that waited fifteen months to purge the lobbyists from their staff, and only did so because they said it was a ‘perception problem."
WASHINGTON—Team Obama pounced on comments about Iraq made by presumptive Republican nominee Sen. John McCain (R-Az.) on NBC’s“Today Show” on Wednesday morning, portraying him as “confused.” McCain said when it comes to keeping troops in Iraq what is important is causalities—not whether or not troops stay on an open-ended basis.
Obama’s Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) and top foreign policy advisor Susan Rice on a conference call with reporters hit back. Rice, talking about McCain foreign policy used the phrase “real confusion” and said McCain is “confusing” and “confused.”
Is that a code for suggesting McCain is too old to understand what is going on?
WASHINGTON—Obama campaign manager David Plouffe is unrolling the general election campaign he has been shaping for months. For example, in May, the campaign unveiled a 50-state voter registration drive, the skeleton operation Plouffe is adding meat to now that Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) is officially the presumptive nominee. On Tuesday, Plouffe—on the Democratic National Committee e-mail—sent out a low-dollar appeal for money for Obama’s 50 state campaign.
The letter demonstrates how strongly the Obama team is now running the DNC—and how DNC chairman Howard Dean now answers to Obama. What is interesting in the letter: Dean caught plenty of flak in the 2006 campaign cycle—especially from Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-Ill.) then the chairman of the House political operation for what Dean called his “50-state strategy.” What did not work for Emanuel—who wanted Dean’s resources targeted to specific races—is looking interesting to Obama, who has built his own “Obama Party” during the long primary season where there were contests in all 50 states.
Said Plouffe in the appeal, “I am proud to announce that our presidential campaign will be the first in a generation to deploy and maintain staff in every single state."
WASHINGTON--Presumptive GOP nominee Sen. John McCain (R-Az.) steps up his call for one-on-one town hall debates--with no moderator--with rival Sen.Barack Obama (D-Ill.) during a speech Tuesday here to a small business conference.
After being heckled and booed, McCain brought up the town halls. The Obama team--not crazy about how the primary debates turned out--more about the moderators than the candidates--is considering the offer.
Said McCain, "And as you may have heard, Senator Obama and I might -- and I hope -- will be meeting soon in a series of town hall discussions -- just the two of us, in direct conversation with the voters. No need to turn it into a big media-run production with process questions from reporters, a spin room and all the rest of it.
"Just to keep things friendly, I also suggested that my opponent and I travel to these town hall meetings together in the same plane. I promise not to try to fly it. So -- so we need the town hall meeting. You just saw the example. Let's stop -- let's stop yelling at each other. Let's stop having sound bites and process questions and those things.
Speaking in Raleigh, N.C., on Monday, presumptive Demcratic nominee Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) starts paying tribute to former rival Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) Obama says rival Sen. John McCain (R-Az.) has legitimate "moments" of independence from his party, citing earmarks as an example.
Republicans are not planning to have a day--maybe even a few hours--go by without hitting Obama. While Obama starts a "Change that Works for You" two-week tour, the Republican National Committee slams back on a website LINK that it is "Change We Can't Afford."
WASHINGTON--Presumptive Democratic nominee Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) hits Raleigh, N.C. Monday afternoon for the start of two weeks of travel to key swing states (and states Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) won with the economy the main message. Besides North Carolina, Obama visits Missouri-he has a fund-raiser in St. Louis on Monday night--Pennsylvania, Ohio and Florida. During Monday, Obama talks economics on CNBC and with Fortune.
Meanwhile, presumptive Republican nominee Sen. John McCain (R-Az.) travels this week to some of the same swing states--Virginia, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire and New Jersey. McCain on Tuesday, talks about the economy Nationa Federation of Independent Business economic summit.
Presumptive GOP Sen. John McCain (R-Az.) makes an implicit swipe at Democratic rival Sen.Barack Obama (D-Ill.) in this video with the non-subtle message to question any Obama tough rhetoric about war, underscored with McCain's own storied military history.
Now that Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) is the presumptive Democratic nominee....and the Obama team has seized control of the Democratic National Committee...the DNC is aggressively attacking GOP rival Sen. John McCain (R-Az.) on his ties to lobbyists--picking up on Obama's anti-lobbyist theme.
Ending his neutrality, maverick freshman Sen. Jim Webb (D-Va.) is now with White House hopeful Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) and stumps with him in Virgnia on Tuesday. Obama, in a speech at a Health Care Town Hall in Bristol, slams rival Sen. John McCain (R-Az.) on the need for universal health care and highlights his new policy about not having the DNC take money as of today from lobbyists and political action committees.
While the Democrats during the primary argued over who had the best plan to get to universal coverage--the general election Obama-McCain contest will be about the much deeper and broader policy issue of opposiing visions on how to provide health insurance for the uninsured.
After refusing for years to open all fund-raisers to the press, Barack Obama has a policy change.
WASHINGTON -- When Barack Obama travels to New York for two big-dollar events in private homes tonight, the campaign will allow coverage by a print pool reporter. Obama for the first time is opening all his fund-raising events -- in private homes and public places -- to a press pool as he seeks to draw a contrast between himself and John McCain when it comes to ethics and transparency.
The policy switch comes as Obama starts his historic general election campaign and is getting his own house in order.
WASHINGTON-- Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) speaking in New York at the end of the primary season, said she will take some time to decide what she is going to do next, neither conceeding nor suspending her campaign.
Read my column on Clinton's strategy for the post-primary short term. LINK
Excerpt from Clinton " I understand that a lot of people are asking, what does Hillary want? What does she want? Well, I want what I have always fought for in this whole campaign. I want to end the war in Iraq. I want to turn this economy around. I want health care for every American. I want every child to live up to his or her God-given potential, and I want the nearly 18 million Americans who voted for me to be respected, to be heard and no longer to be invisible."