ST. PAUL, MINN.--What was to have been the Monday GOP convention line-up...
President George W. Bush
Vice President Richard B. Cheney
First Lady Laura Bush
Gov. Tim Pawlenty (Minn.)*
Gov. Rick Perry (Texas)*
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (Calif.)
ST. PAUL, MINN--With Hurricane Gustav to hit on Monday, the first day of the Republican convention, John McCain just suspended all non-necessary activity on Monday. McCain spoke from St. Louis about the impending natural disaster in the gulf region of the U.S.
Republican National Committee chair Mike Duncan said at a press conference at the Xcel Center here, said the essential party business will be conducted: approval of platform, etc. in an abbreviated session.
Campaign manager Rick Davis said the "program will be business only and refrain from political rhetoric." The session will open at 3 p.m. central and last about two or two-and-a half hours.
What happens Tuesday and will depend on conditions in the wake of the storm.
"We do expect all of the speakers to speak at some point," though it is not clear when of if this will happen, Davis said.
All that is needed to conduct official business is a quorom of delegates, so if some leave, official business can be conducted.
McCain fund-raisers will be asked to turn their efforts to raising money for victims of the storm, Davis said.
MINNEAPOLIS--Former Illinois Gov. Jim Edgar on Palin and the Illinois delegation being seated far away from the convention stage.
From Sun-Times' Mark Bieganski....
Edgar on Palin:
Watching her when she was introduced by Senator McCain, I thought she had a lot
of spunk and I think that will help this ticket. She has a varied background --
she's a little bit more conservative on some issues -- but she's had some life
experiences that a lot of Americans can would like to see in the White House,
whether it's the first or second person. The unknown is that she is so unknown.
ST. PAUL--John McCain, in Mississippi with running mate Sara Palin, said the script for the GOP convention here will be rewritten from a celebration to a call for action because of Hurricane Gustav. President Bush and Vice President Cheney have already announced they will not attend Monday's opening convention session. McCain and Palin toured the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency emergency operations center in Jackson on Sunday.
"We must redirect our efforts from the really celebratory event of the nomination of president and vice president of our party to acting as all Americans," McCain said.
"We'll change our program and I'll be announcing details of it in the next few hours. But there's very little doubt that we have to go from a party event to a call to the nation for action, action to help our fellow citizens in this time of tragedy and disaster, action in the form of volunteering, donations, reaching out our hands and our hearts and our wallets to the people who are under such great threat from this great natural disaster.
(photos by Lynn Sweet)
If you squint, you can see how far back the Illinois delegation is seated at the GOP convention.
ST. PAUL--When Republicans gather here at the Xcel Center to nominate John McCain, the Illinois delegation will have just about the worst seats in the house. The delegates will sit just in front of American Samoa. Such is the fate of Republicans from Barack Obama's homestate. At the Democratic convention in Denver, the Illinois delegates were front and center.
I just finished a stint on CNN's "Reliable Sources" talking with host Howard Kurtz about the media treatment of Sarah Palin--the Alaska governor who surprised the political press when McCain tapped her to be his running mate.
The segment--with Politico's Roger Simon and Dana Milbank of the Washington Post--was shot on the convention floor. The contrast between the GOP and Democratic theatrics is stark.
CNN "Reliable Source" host Howard Kurtz at the CNN workspace.
MINNEAPOLIS---Hurricane Gustav strikes as the GOP convention is to begin on Monday; Republicans are poised to revamp the convention schedule because they do not want to party while there is a national emergency. President Bush is expected to speak to the convention on Monday.
John McCain, in an interview taped for Fox News Sunday said it would be insensitive for the convention to go on in the wake of the storm."
"I'm afraid ... that we may have to look at that situation and we'll try to monitor it," McCain said. "But you know it just wouldn't be appropriate to have a festive occasion while a near-tragedy or a terrible challenge is presented in the form of a natural disaster."
MINNEAPOLIS--Using a female narrator, this new Obama spot--the first to address John McCain tapping Sarah Palin as his running mate--shows a picture of Palin with the voiceover saying "this" represents "no change."
MINNEAPOLIS--From the McCain campaign, the "tic toc" of how John McCain decided to tap Sarah Palin as his vice presidential running mate, including checking into a hotel with her family under another name.
DENVER--Hat tip to the Chicago Tribune's Jill Zuckman, who is reporting Friday, "A Republican source confirms that John McCain has chosen Alaska Governor Sarah Palin to be his running mate. Campaign officials, however, remain mum this morning." McCain is poised to make his official announcement soon. Palin......who?
DENVER -- A flag-waving, star-studded, made-for-television spectacular, punctuated with a parade of down-and-out "real people" and comparisons to Abraham Lincoln, set the stage for Barack Obama's historic speech accepting the Democratic party nomination.
DENVER--Hours before Barack Obama makes his historic acceptance speech at an outdoor stadium, campaign manager David Plouffe and chief strategist David Axelrod deemed the Democratic convention so far a success.
Tonight, Obama not only gives a speech with important message goals, but the thousands in the crowd--including some 20,000 from the battleground state of Colorado--will get trained in the Obama grass roots operation.
"The first three days of convention, we could not be more thrilled with how they've gone," said Plouffe.
"Each night had a purpose in terms of the strategy of the convention and quite candidly had exceeded all our goals.
"We think that all three of these nights so far have fit together and our fourth night tonight is going to be the capstone to what we think is a very very important week. Our hope and sense is that voters around the country have learned more about who Barack Obama is," he said.
"Barack Obama has proposed raising taxes on small businesses and America's working families during an economic downturn. You don't have to 'know much' to understand that Barack Obama's plans to raise taxes will hurt an already struggling economy. And it's particularly revealing that the Obama campaign feels forced to cast flimsy attack ads during his own convention - Barack Obama's politics of hope is waning." ---Tucker Bounds, spokesman John McCain 2008
DENVER -- John McCain's campaign released a wicked ad Sunday designed to divide and conquer sulking Hillary Clinton supporters by sticking it to Barack Obama for not tapping her to be his running mate, just as Obama's team is trying to patch everything up at the convention.
The spot continues a storyline that the Obama campaign hopes is exhausted once Democrats leave here after nominating the Obama-Biden ticket.
The Obama camp wants to smother Clinton backers with respect. Their plan may be thrown some by the news in today's Sun-Times that Illinois state Sen. President Emil Jones (D-Chicago) called an African-American Illinois Clinton delegate an "Uncle Tom."
The RNC has set up a warroom just outside of downtown Denver, and plastered with clever posters declaring Obama "A Mile High, an Inch Deep."
This space (which can only be entered through a back alley) appears to have two functions: a media and oppo-research hub for RNC and McCain 2008 staff; and a staging area for the GOP "party crashers" coming to town.
By Lynn Sweet, Abdon M. Pallasch, and Dave McKinney Sun-Times Staff Reporters
DENVER - At 2 a.m. Chicago time, from a laptop in the "new media" office of Barack Obama's Michigan Avennue national campaign headquarters, the text message went out: Obama is tapping Sen. Joe Biden to be his running mate. "Spread the Word," the dispatch concluded.
And with that click, Sprint reported a 255 percent increase in traffic on their Obama site.
"There has been no harsher critic of Barack Obama's lack of experience than Joe Biden. Biden has denounced Barack Obama's poor foreign policy judgment and has strongly argued in his own words what Americans are quickly realizing -- that Barack Obama is not ready to be President." --McCain spokesman Ben Porritt
The McCain campaign, zinged by Obama as rich, out-of-touch to the point he does not know how many homes he owns, roars back that Obama bought his mansion only with the help of Tony Rezko--now awaiting sentencing for his conviction on corruption charges.
"Does a guy who made more than $4 million last year, just got back from vacation on a private beach in Hawaii and bought his own million-dollar mansion with the help of a convicted felon really want to get into a debate about houses? Does a guy who worries about the price of arugula and thinks regular people "cling" to guns and religion in the face of economic hardship really want to have a debate about who's in touch with regular Americans?
"The reality is that Barack Obama's plans to raise taxes and opposition to producing more energy here at home as gas prices skyrocket show he's completely out of touch with the concerns of average Americans." --McCain spokesman Brian Rogers
The Obama campaign, using the opening John McCain gave them, is planning a campaign-within-a campaign--fully coordinated with local Democrats-- to portray McCain as the candidate who is out of touch with the middle class because he could not recall how many homes he had.
John McCain may regret the day he said he could not remember how many homes he owns. The number is seven. Obama's team--tarred with the rich celebrity tag by McCain, and thrown off stride by this--was given a gift by McCain and is intent on making the most of it.
Jewish support is vital to the Obama campaign. Jewish donors play a major role in his fund-raising efforts and Jewish voters live in key battleground states--Florida and Pennsylvania in particular--that can make a difference.
The Obama team gets hit on two Jewish voter fronts on Wednesday:
*The Republican Jewish Coalition (RJC) called on Obama and the Democratic Party leadership to remove former President Jimmy Carter as a Democratic National Convention speaker because of what they called his "anti-Israel" bias.
"In April 2008, despite strong protests by Israeli leaders, the U.S. State Department and several Democratic leaders, Carter met with Hamas leader Khaled Meshal in Syria," the RJC said.
*Obama foreign policy advisor Daniel Kurtzer --on a trip to Syria unrelated to the Obama campaign--met with Syrian officials, the New York Sun reported. In reaction to this, the McCain
is holding a press conference call Wednesday afternoon with former New York City Mayor, Rudy Giuliani and Randy Scheunemann, McCain 2008 Senior Foreign Policy Adviser to discuss Kurtzer.
*Before the call started, Obama's Tommy Vietor shot off a memo about McCain and Syria.
Please see our response, below, to the latest McCain attack ad "Millions" and a fact check of the claims made in it:
"Yet again, John McCain makes another false, low-road attack while he's offering just more of the same Bush economics that have failed us for eight years. The choice is simple: Barack Obama will give a real tax cut up to $1,000 to 95% of working Americans, while John McCain will follow in Bush's footsteps, adding to the deficit with huge tax breaks for oil companies and other special interests. No matter how many false negative ads John McCain runs, Americans can't afford more of the same Bush policies that John McCain promises," said Obama campaign spokesman Hari Sevugan.
Increasingly confident that framing presumptive Democratic nominee Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) as an empty celebrity is working for them--the McCain campaign on Wednesday unveiled a new radio spot making the point that Obama is wealthy. But he's small change compared to the fortune that Cindy McCain inherited from her father. Obama's team made an ad playing up McCain's wealth; this in part is a reaction to that.
One of the raps on presumptive Democratic nominee Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) is that he is ultra cautious and has never put his brand at risk over any issue. At the Saddleback Forum on Sunday--where Obama and Sen. John McCain (R-Az.) both appeared-- Obama, answering Pastor Rich Warren's question about going against his party, cited his work on campaign ethics reform with McCain.
WASHINGTON--A new Quinnipiac University poll shows that about one-third of likely voters are somewhat uncomfortable about putting Sen. John McCain (R-Az)--who turns 72 later this month--in the White House because of his age. This contrasts with only 8 percent who say they are uncomfortable in putting a black man in the Oval Office.
"The poll underlines Sen. Barack Obama's strengths and weaknesses. Strengths: He leads overall and he's strong with women, even stronger among young folks and astronomically strong with blacks. Weaknesses: Sen. John McCain beats him among white voters, men, older folks and white Catholics," said Maurice Carroll, director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute.
"Next week's Democratic Convention, a week-long political campaign commercial, should help Obama - at least until the Republican Convention, a week-long celebration of McCain the following week," Carroll added. "In dealing with Russia, even a large minority of Democrats think McCain would do better than Obama," Carroll added.
Presumptive Democratic nominee Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) slams rival Sen. John McCain (R-Az.) over support for the Iraqi surge in a speech before the VFW in Florida on Tuesday morning. McCain talked to the same group yesterday.
Senator McCain now argues that despite these costly strategic errors, his judgment has been vindicated due to the results of the surge. .........
.....But understand what the essential argument was about. Before the surge, I argued that the long-term solution in Iraq is political - the Iraqi government must reconcile its differences and take responsibility for its future. That holds true today.
In their first back-to-back appearance as presidential nominees -- at a forum aimed at evangelicals -- Barack Obama said Saturday his greatest moral failure was his selfishness, while John McCain said it was his first marriage.
The rivals were led through mostly identical questions by Pastor Rick Warren, who presides over the mammoth Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif. Obama went first, while McCain was sequestered so he would not know the specific question. While not a debate -- there will be three -- the Saturday session showed that Obama's penchant for nuance will face McCain's tendency for directness.
Presumptive Democratic nominee Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.)--the first African American with a chance of becoming president--said Saturday he would not have appointed Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas--the second black on the nation's highest court.
"I would not have nominated Clarence Thomas," Obama said in response to a question from Saddleback Church Pastor Rich Warren about which existing justice he would not have nominated. "I don't think he was a strong enough jurist or legal thinker at the time for that elevation."
Obama and rival Sen. John McCain (R-Az.) are making back-to-back appearances at Saddleback, in Lake Forest, Calif. for questioning by one of the country's most famous evangelists.
Obama--who taught constitutional law at the University of Chicago--also said he would not have appointed Justice Antonin Scalia "because he and I just disagree." Obama noted that Scalia also was at the U of C. Scalia was a professor of law there from 1977 to 1982.
Both 2008 contenders travel to Lake Forest, Calif. on Saturday to sit down for a talk about faith at Saddleback Church. This is the first time McCain and Obama will appear on the same stage--but this is not a debate. Questions will be posed to each--in separate one hour sessions--by Saddleback's evangelical Pastor Rich Warren. Watch it live on CNN, Fox. Obama goes first--determined by a coin toss.
The tradition is for the home state of the nominee to get the best seats at the party convention. Nothing I have heard changes that for this year; look for the Illinois delegation to have front and center seats at the Pepsi Center when Democrats gather in Denver to nominate Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.). Expect Arizona delegates to get the great position at the GOP convention in Minneapolis-St. Paul where Sen. John McCain (R-Az.) is nominated.
WASHINGTON -- The swelling conflict between Russia and Georgia over South Ossetia and Abkhazia is the first major real-time foreign-policy crisis faced by Barack Obama. He could not afford to be perceived as AWOL on this just because he is vacationing in his native Hawaii.
Obama has issued three statements since Friday -- one read before cameras en route to Hawaii on Friday -- another session with cameras Monday, where he interrupted his Hawaiian vacation to call for a cease-fire and international intervention. At first he urged restraint for both nations, but that changed as Obama, President Bush and rival John McCain recognized Russia as responsible for bringing the countries to the brink of war.
In a just completed Tuesday morning conference call, the Obama campaign focused on an important constituency--Republicans. Obama during the primary called Republicans who support him "Obamacans" and the word has entered the political lexicon.
Former Rep. Jim Leach (R-Ia.) former Sen. Lincoln Chaffee (R-R.I.) and former Bush White House intelligence advisor Rita E. Hauser were on the call, touting Obama's foreign and fiscal expertise. More important to the group, Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) is not rival Sen. John McCain (R-Az.).
"Apparently Barack Obama is also taking a vacation from the facts, ignoring his own votes in support of the Yucca Mountain project. Either Barack Obama is too inexperienced to understand that his votes on the floor of the United States Senate are recorded for Americans to review, or he's simply showing incredible hypocrisy." ---Tucker Bounds, spokesman John McCain 2008
In 2005, Barack Obama Voted Twice To Fund The Yucca Mountain Nuclear Waste Repository. "Passage of the bill that would provide $31.2 billion in fiscal 2006 for energy and water development projects, including $5.3 billion for the Army Corps of Engineers and $25 billion for the Energy Department. It also would provide $577 million for the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository." (H.R. 2419, CQ Vote #172: Passed 92-3: R 50-3; D 41-0; I 1-0, 7/1/05, Obama Voted Yea; H.R. 2419, CQ Vote #321: Adopted 84-4: R 48-2; D 35-2; I 1-0, 11/14/05, Obama Voted Yea)--from the McCain campaign.
The public has a big appetite for news about the lives of the Obama family. They recently allowed their two young daughters to be interviewed with them on TV; later presumptive Democratic nominee Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) said it was a mistake. Michelle Obama talks to ABC's Robin Roberts about putting the kids in the public eye.
MS. ROBERTS: But one thing's for certain: the public's and media's appetite for the Obamas.
The couple's still feeling their way on how much is too much when it comes to their two young daughters.
MS. OBAMA: I think we're all figuring this out, and I've had an opportunity to talk to people who've done this before. I had a great conversation with Hillary Clinton. I also talked to Tipper Gore -- lots of folks who have had great advice on how do you make sure that your kids are whole and grounded. And part of it is keeping them -- keeping their worlds very much their own.
So we're learning and growing and figuring it out, and making some decisions and changing our minds and moving forward.--
In Berea, Ohio, Obama turned McCain's attacking him for suggesting--very prudently, I think--that we keep our tires inflated to conserve oil--on end.
"They're lying about what my energy plan is," Obama said. And "they're making fun of a step that every expert says would reduce our oil consumption by 3 to 4 percent. It's like these guys take pride in being ignorant. You know, I mean they think it's funny that they are making fun of something that is actually true.
"They need to do their homework. Because this is serious business. Instead of running ads about Paris Hilton and Britney Spears, they should go talk to some energy experts and actually make a difference."
The AFL-CIO Executive Council is hosting its summer meeting in Chicago with the emphasis on the November election. On Tuesday, Obama campaign manager David Plouffe and top strategist David Axelrod address the group while presumptive Democratic nominee Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) joins via a teleconference connection.
Obama battleground states director Jen O'Malley--with between 18 and 22 states in her portfolio--already briefed some 325 union political honchos in Chicago, where she said the union political programs will be critical to the success of the Obama campaign.
Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) said she was ready to lead from Day One in her failed primary bid....Sen. John McCain (R-Az.) tries his version of the line out for himself in this new video.
UPDATE....Obama campaign response
"Senator McCain wants Americans to forget that during the Republican primary, he said that Americans were better off than we were eight years ago, and that he thinks we've made 'great progress economically.' He wants us to forget that he's fully embraced the Bush policies he once opposed, and bragged about supporting those policies 'more than 90 percent of time.' The truth is, being a maverick isn't practicing the same kind of politics we have seen from Washington for decades, it isn't having a campaign run by Washington lobbyists, and it's certainly not promoting the same policies that have led America down the wrong path these past eight years," said Obama campaign spokesman Bill Burton.
from the McCain campaign...
ARLINGTON, VA -- U.S. Senator John McCain's presidential campaign today released its latest television ad, entitled "Broken." The ad highlights John McCain's record of taking on the special interests in Washington. The ad will air in key states.
Script For "Broken" (TV :60)
ANNCR: Washington's broken. John McCain knows it. We're worse off than we were four years ago.
Only McCain has taken on big tobacco, drug companies, fought corruption in both parties. He'll reform Wall Street, battle Big Oil, make America prosper again.
He's the original maverick.
One is ready to lead -- McCain.
JOHN MCCAIN: I'm John McCain and I approved this message.
Key passage: Over the next five years, we should also lease more of the National Petroleum Reserve in Alaska for oil and gas production. And we should also tap more of our substantial natural gas reserves and work with the Canadian government to finally build the Alaska Natural Gas Pipeline, delivering clean natural gas and creating good jobs in the process.
The Obama campaign jumped in first to try to set the storyline of the day, producing a new spot called "Pocket," hitting McCain by picturing him with oil man President Bush and for taking contributions from "Big Oil."
(Corporations are banned from donating to federal candidates. Donations come from individuals who work for oil companies--Obama also accepts donations from employees of oil companies; McCain has more.)
The Republicans--playing defense, because talking about oil prices is the Obama team agenda--are offering tire gauges to reporters, mocking Obama for suggesting that people keep their tires inflated properly in order to save gas.
On NBC's "Meet the Press" on Sunday, McCain buddy Sen. Joe Lieberman (ID-Ct.) hints he will be at the GOP convention to help woo Democrats and Independents for McCain. He also defends the Paris-Britney McCain ads. Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) speaks for the Obama campaign.
Obama campaign manager David Plouffe on Saturday tapped close Obama friend Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-Ill.) to negotiate debate details with the McCain team and the
Commission on Presidential Debates. The bi-partisan commission has had debates on the drawing board for quite some time. While there is nothing to preclude the campaigns from having more, sponsored by others, Plouffe in his letter said that was unlikely.
Emanuel, said Plouffe, will "review the specifics of the Commission's proposal, discuss any requested changes to that proposal, and resolve any issues left open by the Commission's framework. .....Due to the late date of the two parties' nominating conventions, and the relatively short period between the end of the conventions and the first proposed debate, it is likely that the four Commission debates will be the sole series of debates in the fall campaign."
The debates are Sept. 26 at the University of Mississippi at Oxford; Oct. 7 at Belmont University at Nashville and Oct. 15 at Hofstra University at Hempstead, N.Y. There is a vice presidential debate Oct. 2 at Washington University in St. Louis.
The discussion about race in the 2008 presidential contest continued on Saturday though it looks like both sides may be moving on.
The story so far: some Obama supporters said McCain's use of Paris Hilton and Britney Speaks--young white blonds--in a spot hitting Obama had racial overtones. McCain's campaign manager said Obama's talk about how Republicans will attack him because he does not look like other presidents was playing the race card. At first the Obama team said those comments were not about race; now the Obama says indeed they were......
At a press conference in Florida on Saturday, presumptive Democratic nominee Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) said his problem with the McCain campaign's Paris/Britney spots were that they were cynical--not racist.
"Let me be clear. In no way do I think that John McCain's campaign was being racist. I think they are cynical. I think they want to distract people from talking about the real issues," Obama said.
Tucker Bounds, McCain campaign spokesman, pouncing on being called cynical "for highlighting Barack Obama's worldwide celebrity status" said "We're glad the Obama campaign retracted Barack Obama's accusation because it was absolutely false, and we're moving on.
The only 'cynical' candidate in this election is Barack Obama, who has opposed every element of John McCain's comprehensive energy plan that includes additional oil drilling, affordable nuclear energy and gas tax relief for hardworking families."
OBAMA CAMPAIGN CONFERENCE CALL
SUBJECT: THE NEW JULY JOBS NUMBERS AND SENATOR OBAMA'S NEW EMERGENCY ECONOMIC PLAN
BRIEFERS: JASON FURMAN, DIRECTOR OF ECONOMIC POLICY, OBAMA CAMPAIGN; JARED BERNSTEIN, ECONOMIC ADVISER, OBAMA CAMPAIGN
MODERATOR: MOIRA MACK, SPOKESPERSON, OBAMA CAMPAIGN