Tuesday, September 30, 2008


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Monday, September 29, 2008

Obama plans return to Senate for bailout vote

WASHINGTON - Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama plans to return to the Senate this week so he can vote for the Wall Street bailout package.

he Illinois senator is expected to support the plan, but hasn't committed yet since he's still examining the details. The $700 billion compromise legislation is up for a vote Monday in the House, with the Senate vote expected as early as Wednesday.

A spokesman for John McCain said the Republican nominee plans to be in Washington and hopes he'll be able to vote, depending on the schedule.

Obama was scheduled to campaign Wednesday in La Crosse, Wis. It was unclear if his morning rally there would still go on, depending on when the vote is scheduled, but campaign organizers said they hoped he could still attend.

McCain questions Obama's tax votes

Sen. John McCain slammed Sen. Barack Obama's economic policy at a campaign event in Columbus, Ohio.(CNN) -- Sen. John McCain told voters Monday that Sen. Barack Obama isn't being honest about his tax votes and said the Democrat is "always cheering for higher taxes."

Sen. John McCain slammed Sen. Barack Obama's economic policy at a campaign event in Columbus, Ohio.

In response, the Obama campaign called McCain's remarks "false attacks" and an "angry diatribe."

The economy is the No. 1 issue on the minds of voters, polls show, and both candidates are trying to convince voters that they will do a better job of getting the financial crisis under control.

"Two times, on March 14, 2008, and June 4, 2008, in the Democratic budget resolution, he voted to raise taxes on people making just $42,000 per year. He even said at the time that this vote for higher taxes on the middle class was 'getting our nation's priorities back on track,' " McCain said at a rally in Columbus, Ohio.

"Then something amazing happened: On Friday night, he looked the American people in the eye and said it never happened. My friends, we need a president who will always tell the American people the truth," McCain said.

McCain said a vote for Obama would "guarantee higher taxes, fewer jobs and an even bigger federal government" and charged that "these policies will deepen our recession."

Shortly after McCain finished his speech, the Obama campaign accused the Arizona senator of lying.

"Sen. McCain's angry diatribe today won't make up for his erratic response to the greatest financial crisis of our time. John McCain knows that the budget he's talking about didn't end up raising taxes on a single American, and the lie he told the American people today is all the more outrageous a day after he admitted that his health care plan will increase taxes on some families," Obama campaign spokesman Tommy Vietor said.

In McCain's speech, the Republican presidential candidate was referring to votes on a resolution (Senate Concurrent Resolution 70) meant to outline the Senate's budget priorities through 2013, but the measure had no practical effect.

According to a CNN review of the resolution, it assumes that most of the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts pushed by President Bush will expire in that time, which McCain says amounts to a tax increase. Obama and his running mate, Sen. Joe Biden, voted "yes" on the resolution. McCain did not vote.

However, the Democrats offered their own cuts in the 48-page resolution, which called for several tax cuts and breaks, including rolling back the alternative-minimum tax and the so-called "marriage penalty."

According to an analysis by the independent Tax Policy Center, the tax plan Obama has proposed during the campaign would increase taxes in 2009 on the wealthiest 20 percent of households, while offering tax cuts for the other 80 percent.

Obama was expected to talk about his economic plan at an event in Denver, Colorado, later Monday.

McCain and Obama's events come in two key battleground states.

No Republican has won the White House without winning Ohio, which has 20 electoral votes up for grabs.

Colorado is a toss-up state with nine electoral votes at stake. The state is home to deep political divisions -- Republicans, Democrats and independents each make up about a third of Colorado's voters.

The GOP presidential candidate has carried the state in 12 of the last 14 presidential races, dating back to 1952. The only exceptions came in 1964 and 1992, when the state supported Lyndon Johnson and Bill Clinton, respectively.

While Obama and McCain continue campaigning this week, their running mates will be focused on their upcoming debate.

Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and Biden face off Thursday in St. Louis, Missouri, in the only vice presidential debate of the election season.

After McCain's rally, Palin headed to McCain's ranch near Sedona, Arizona, for what a top aide calls "debate camp."

Palin has already spent four days hunkered down in a Philadelphia hotel for debate prep with advisers.

Biden was preparing for the debate in Delaware on Monday.

The Great Palin Panic Of 2008

29 Sep 2008 11:59 am

Gov. Sarah Palin has lost control of her public image, several top-level McCain advisers said this weekend, and even a baseline performance in Thursday's debate with Joe Biden may be too late to recover it.

The decision to sequester Palin from the national political press corps was made with the assumption that the afterglow from her convention speech would last; a month later, even some Republicans are beginning to have a less favorable opinion of her.

Her knowledge of policy has seemed at times no more than inch deep, and even admirers have complained that her penchant for returning to talking points sounds artificial. Several times the campaign has had to clean up her remarks for her, such as on Saturday, when she hinted at a view of U.S.-Pakistani relations that was closer to Barack Obama's.

Aides questioned why CBS's Katie Couric was given a second interview with Palin after Palin's responses were ridiculed.

One McCain aide complained that too few surrogates are making the affirmative case for her -- she has defenders, to be sure, but they're sparse and they're generally defending her from specific charges. Aside from a single interview with Sean Hannity, she hasn't appeared on a single talk radio show, hasn't held a single conference call with conservative activists, nor she has participated in a telephone call with conservative bloggers. In turn, these conservatives have largely stopped rallying to her defense.

Internally and to surrogates, senior campaign aides have counseled a "criticize the media" approach, but it has fallen on deaf ears.

A major worry is that if Palin fails to meet expectations Thursday, she'll have no trampoline to fall back on.

Sunday, the campaign sent out a draft version of Palin's schedule that had her prepping for the debate in St. Louis. Campaign sources say that Sen. McCain himself called an audible and suggested that Palin spend her debate prep time in Sedona and bring her family, allowing her to escape some of the intense pressure of the campaign trail.

According to the Wall Street Journal, campaign manager Rick Davis and chief strategist Steve Schmidt, along with McCain aide Brett O'Donnell will take over debate prep duties from Mark Wallace, a former Bush campaign official and United Nations diplomat.

Jill Hazelbaker, McCain's chief spokesperson, denied any internal concern. "Governor Palin is a huge asset to our ticket and she's going to do just fine this week." Referring to a Palin public appearance in Central Florida, she said, "60,000 people in FL last week is a pretty good indicator that she's connecting."

Instead of unsheathing Palin, the strategy this week is to attack Joe Biden and try to drive a wedge between him and Obama, another McCain aide said.


McCain being McCain: new gambit or another payoff?

By Jeff Mason - Analysis

COLUMBUS, Ohio (Reuters) - It could be the move that secures or destroys his White House hopes.

John McCain's decision last week to suspend his campaign and return to Washington to help broker a Wall Street bailout deal drew scorn from Democrats and praise from some Republicans, who saw a chance for the Arizona senator to show his "maverick" style and ability to work with both parties.

The results did not turn out exactly as planned.

The Republican presidential candidate became an immediate target for the opposing party, which blamed him for torpedoing a bill, and a bipartisan meeting with President George W. Bush and rival Barack Obama ended in chaos.

So McCain retreated. He flew to Mississippi to debate Obama after first threatening to skip the event and then came back to Washington to work the phones and maneuver behind the scenes.

By Monday a deal was in place and McCain, after nearly a week without public campaign events, returned to the campaign trail with a trip to Ohio.

Was it worth it?

"In the short run it has not helped him," said Andrew Busch, a professor of government at Claremont McKenna College in California.

"In fact, if you look at all of the daily tracking polls, he's lost a considerable amount of ground just over the last few days," he said.

Time to make up that decline is getting short. With just over a month to go before the November 4 election, McCain may not have many more dramatic moves left in his arsenal.

But aides played down the political ramifications and, even as the senator carefully deflected credit, said his intervention made a difference in forming a plan that fellow Republicans -- especially in the House of Representatives -- could accept.

"There is a point sometimes when a process is broken that presence matters, and McCain brought presence to this that was important," said senior economic adviser Douglas Holtz-Eakin.

"You literally cannot phone that in, and he didn't."

In some ways he did, making some 17 phone calls on Saturday alone, according to an adviser, while trying to stay out of the limelight that caused havoc upon his initial return.


Obama's campaign, relishing an uptick in the polls, painted McCain's response to the financial crisis as erratic compared to the Illinois senator's more measured approach.

"McCain has kind of been all over the lot, very erratic," the Illinois senator's campaign manager David Plouffe told reporters on Saturday. "Barack Obama has been very steady."

Not so, said McCain's advisers, emphasizing his willingness to take political risks compared to Obama's cautious instinct.

"It's easy enough to stay out on the campaign trail. You have no accountability for whether anything happens or not in Washington," said independent Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman, a McCain confidant and the 2000 Democratic vice presidential nominee.

"But that's not John McCain," Lieberman said. "He took the risk, he came back, and it looks like his efforts as well as a lot of others are going to bring us to a rescue plan that can save the American economy."

Saving the economy will be key for McCain's political prospects as well. Aides stressed that there was no deal on a bailout bill when McCain arrived in Washington and took umbrage at Democratic attempts to pin initial failures on him.

On Sunday Sen. Judd Gregg, a New Hampshire Republican and a chief negotiator of the deal, said both McCain and Obama had helped.

"The most constructive thing they did was coming here last Thursday to focus not only our minds, Congress's minds, on getting something done, but more importantly (they) focused the American people's attention to the fact that this problem was serious and real," Gregg said.

If that impression resonates, McCain could recover from a poll dip that shows him around four to five percentage points behind Obama.

"It's conceivable that it will wind up helping him or being a wash," said Claremont McKenna's Busch.

"If that winds up being the case, and the markets calmed down and it's clearer that McCain did not actually blow up the negotiations, as some Democrats were alleging, then the public perception could turn around," Busch said. "But that's something that remains to be seen."

(Editing by David Wiessler)