Election 2008

  Palin’S Not Scoring In Republican StatesOctober 29, 1998 16:26 Dan Simon didn’t mince his words when asked to describe the Republican party’s vice-presidential candidate Alaska Governor Sarah Palin.

“She’s an idiot. A politically immature woman. A complete idiot who just doesn’t get it. It is a joke that she is running for vice-president,” he said.

Simon, a human resources manager who is attending the Human Society for Human Resource Management’s Diversity Conference in Atlanta, Georgia, is from South Dakota, a state known for backing Republicans in presidential elections.

He was a staunch Republican supporter, too, but not any more.

“I’m voting Barack Obama. He’s the only one who’s speaking rationally and sensibly in these trying times. People believe he can turn this country around,” he said.
  Palin Is Too Much FunOctober 29, 1998 16:22 Just when things seemed darkest for the journalism racket the news gods smiled -- only briefly, as it turned out -- and bestowed Sarah Palin upon us.

However the campaign turns out, we can't let her go back to Alaska. She's too much fun.

Just recently she was the cause of a great new contribution to our political vocabulary -- "gone rogue." As in a McCain campaign insider's observation that in Palin's increasing tendency to depart from the script prepared for her the vice presidential candidate "has gone rogue on us."

The campaign seemed stunned that the woman they proudly labeled a "maverick" maybe really is a maverick.

The New York Times had a very funny account of Palin suddenly stopping to take questions from a local TV crew and her traveling press corps. The Times account of what followed:

" 'Get Tracey,' one campaign aide barked into his headset, calling for Tracey Schmitt, Ms. Palin's ever-watchful spokeswoman, who rushed over to supervise the impromptu press conference. (Ms. Schmitt, looking distressed, tried several times to cut it off with a terse 'Thank you!' in between questions, to no avail.)"

Later that day Palin again broke free from her handlers to talk to the reporters, causing one to observe later that she was evolving "from the least accessible to the most accessible of the four candidates."

All this has led to the sort of speculation we in the dwindling band of mainstream media love. John Dickerson wrote ". . . political insiders have started asking whether Palin is simply undisciplined or is intentionally ignoring the playbook. And if it's intentional, the question becomes: Is she putting her own political self-interest ahead of her running mate's?"

The political pundits were ready with an answer. Roger Simon wrote in Politico, "Sarah Palin may soon be free. Soon, she may not have the millstone of John McCain around her neck. And she can begin her race for president in 2012."
  McCain and Obama trade more blowsOctober 28, 1998 09:53 Republican presidential nominee John McCain teamed up with No. 2 Sarah Palin a week before Election Day on Tuesday to attack Democrat Barack Obama's economic plans, and they took heavy return fire from Obama.

Amid news reports of some strains between the McCain and Palin camps as they trail in opinion polls to Obama, McCain said he could not be more pleased with the enthusiasm his vice presidential running mate has generated.

"By the way, when two mavericks join up they don't always agree on everything, but that's a lot of fun," he told a jammed, noisy rally in rain-soaked Hershey.

Obama, feeling the heat from McCain's accusations that he wants to redistribute Americans' wealth, took the Arizona senator head on at an event in Chester, Pennsylvania.

He said McCain's proposals to extend tax cuts would worsen the country's budget picture, and again sought to tie McCain to the policies of unpopular President George W. Bush.

"John McCain has ridden shotgun as George Bush has driven our economy toward a cliff, and now he wants to take the wheel and step on the gas," Obama said.
  Denim Rogue Sarah Palin Too Risky For RepublicansOctober 27, 1998 16:57 SARAH Palin stripped back to "hockey mom" basics yesterday, renouncing her expensive campaign couture for blue jeans and home-bought threads.

At rallies in North Carolina and Florida she declared she would forgo the expensive outfits bought by the Republican Party that had caused such a kerfuffle.

But in a further sign her campaign is sliding off track, her own hometown newspaper said yesterday that Ms Palin was not ready to be vice-president, and backed Barack Obama instead.

The Anchorage Daily News said it would be too risky to put its Republican Governor just "one 72-year-old heartbeat from the leadership of the free world".

And the McCain camp was forced to hose down reports from inside its own team that said Ms Palin had become a rogue operator who was more interested in promoting herself than her boss.

Ms Palin stressed to throngs of supporters at a campaign stop in Tampa, Florida that she was wearing her own jacket, pointing to her blazer, and said she would eschew clothing that wasn't hers.

"Those clothes are not my property, just like the lighting and the staging and everything else the RNC (Republican National Committee) purchased," Ms Palin said.

"I'm not taking them with me. I'm back to wearing my own clothes from my favourite consignment shop in Anchorage, Alaska," she said, adding that she initially had hoped to "ignore this wardrobe thing", but instead had decided to address it head-on.
  Palin Pick Dogs McCainOctober 20, 1998 15:14 With the financial crisis dominating voter concerns just two weeks before election day, Republican John McCain is facing renewed criticism for his choice of Sarah Palin as a vice presidential running mate.

Conservative commentators, late-night comedians and even retired Gen. Colin Powell have questioned the Arizona senator's judgment for putting the little-known Alaska governor on the White House ticket.

Palin, a mother of five whose staunch opposition to abortion rights has energized her party's base, is still drawing large crowds and bringing conservative voters who were wary of McCain back to the Republican fold.

But crucial independents in must-win battleground states on November 4 are having second thoughts, analysts say, after Palin's performance on the national stage failed to illustrate her readiness to take over the country's top job.

Powell, a Republican former secretary of state under President George W. Bush, cited McCain's shaky response to the financial crisis and his choice of Palin as one reason he crossed party lines to endorse Democrat Barack Obama.

"She's a very distinguished woman, and she's to be admired, but at the same time, now that we have had a chance to watch her for some seven weeks, I don't believe she's ready to be president of the United States, which is the job of the vice president," Powell said on NBC's "Meet the Press."

"That raised some question in my mind as to the judgment that Senator McCain made," he said.
  High Court Rejects Gop Bid In Ohio Voting DisputeOctober 17, 1998 11:31 The Supreme Court sided Friday with Ohio's top elections official in a dispute with the state Republican Party over voter registrations.
The justices overruled a federal appeals court that had ordered Ohio's top elections official to do more to help counties verify voter eligibility.
Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner, a Democrat, faced a deadline of Friday to set up a system to provide local officials with names of newly registered voters whose driver's license numbers or Social Security numbers on voter registration forms don't match records in other government databases.
Ohio Republicans contended the information for counties would help prevent fraud. Brunner said the GOP is trying to disenfranchise voters.
In a brief unsigned opinion, the justices said they were not commenting on whether Ohio is complying with a provision of the Help America Vote Act of 2002 that lays out requirements for verifying voter eligibility.
Instead, they said they were granting Brunner's request because it appears that the law does not allow private entities, like the Ohio GOP, to file suit to enforce the provision of the law at issue.
  Evidence Points To Acorn'S Sloppiness, But Not FraudOctober 16, 1998 13:07 Republicans and their allies in the media and on the Internet are ramping up allegations that the liberal-leaning nonprofit voter registration group ACORN is trying to steal next month's presidential election for Democrat Barack Obama.

Conservative media outlets and Web sites are focusing on ACORN, the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now. According to TVeyes.com, Fox News alone has mentioned ACORN stories 342 times in recent days.

In nearly a dozen states, county registrars have found phony voter registration applications submitted by canvassers for ACORN; criminal investigations are under way in Nevada, Ohio and elsewhere; and a racketeering suit was filed in Ohio this week. The mounting evidence of ACORN's sloppy management and poor supervision, however, so far doesn't support the explosive charges that the group is trying to rig the presidential election.

Larry Lomax, the registrar in Clark County, Nev., said he would estimate that 25,000 of the 90,000 applications submitted by ACORN this year were duplicates or phony.

However, Lomax said in a phone interview with McClatchy Newspapers: "I don't think ACORN consciously sets out to turn in fraudulent forms. I just think the people they hire find it incredibly easy to rip off their bosses and turn in fake forms."

While he criticized ACORN's quality control, Lomax said he doubted that any of the fake filings would result in fraudulent votes.
  Sorting Debate Fact From FictionOctober 16, 1998 12:58 Spin and hype were apparent, once again, at the third and final debate between McCain and Obama:

McCain claimed the liberal group ACORN "is now on the verge of maybe perpetrating one of the greatest frauds in voter history ... maybe destroying the fabric of democracy." In fact, a Republican prosecutor said of the first and biggest ACORN fraud case: "[T]his scheme was not intended to permit illegal voting." He said $8-an-hour workers turned in made-up voter registration forms rather than doing what ACORN paid them to do.

McCain said "Joe the plumber" faced "much higher taxes" under Obama's tax plan and would pay a fine under Obama's health care plan if he failed to provide coverage for his workers. But Ohio plumber Joe Wurzelbacher would pay higher taxes only if the business he says he wants to buy puts his income over $200,000 a year, and his small business would be exempt from Obama's requirement to provide coverage for workers.
  Harsh Anti-Obama Imagery, Remarks Pop Up - On Sacto County Gop Web SiteOctober 15, 1998 20:08 Violent anti-Barack Obama rhetoric - such as "Waterboard Barack Obama" - and images linking the Democratic presidential candidate to terrorist leader Osama bin Laden appeared this week on the official Web site of the Sacramento County Republican Party, the latest in a series of increasingly graphic attacks nationwide on the Illinois senator that seek to cast him as a terrorist sympathizer.

California Republican Party officials asked Sacramento party leaders to remove the offensive material, including an image of Obama in a turban next to bin Laden near the caption: "The difference between Osama and Obama is just a little B.S." The offensive material was removed from the site today.

Now the lead story on the site is headlined: "This Election is Really a Referendum on the Stupidity of the American Voters." The accompanying essay, largely an anti-mainstream media invective, wonders: "Imagine how much garbage there must be on the Marxist messiah, Barack Obama, that even his lovers, the mainstream press, cannot hide it all."

While that was going on, a 50-year-old, independent San Bernardino County Republican women's group, unaffiliated with the state party, published a racially insensitive image of Obama in its newsletter.

California Republican Party spokesman Hector Barajas, who asked the Sacramento County GOP chairman to remove the offensive material, said "We disavow these types of things. They have no place in a presidential campaign.

"I also noted to them that this is a complete distraction from what we're trying to do, and that's elect John McCain and Sarah Palin as the next president and vice president of the United States," Barajas said. "As a person of color, I don't see how this furthers the dialogue on how to get the nation out of the economic problems we're in. This is not what the Republican Party in California is about.

"What it tells me is that the Republicans are struggling," said California Democratic Party spokesman Roger Salazar. "They haven't been to connect with voters on the economy or other issues that matter, so they do stuff like this. It's desperation."

  Sarah Palin Dives In Poll Ratings As Tina Fey Impersonates Her On Saturday Night LiveOctober 14, 1998 21:14 Three weeks from now, Sarah Palin may be the Vice-President elect of the United States of America. But today, few people would call her the most powerful woman in American politics.
Arguably, that honour doesn't go to former presidential candidate Hillary Clinton or House Speaker Nancy Pelosi either. Today, the most influential woman in America is probably Tina Fey – a television comedienne.
Since Palin's nomination as Republican John McCain's running mate for the White House, Fey has mercilessly and relentlessly impersonated her on NBC's late-night satirical show Saturday Night Live (SNL).
Fey's physical resemblance to Palin is uncanny, and Fey has an equally spooky knack of replicating the Alaska governor's near-Canadian accent.
In public, Palin has taken Fey's mockery in good part. But Palin's poll ratings are telling a more devastating story.
In a Newsweek poll in September, voters were asked whether Palin was qualified or unqualified to be president. The result was a near dead-heat. In the same poll this month, those saying she was "unqualified" outnumbered those saying she was "qualified" by a massive 16 points.
Some of Fey's best satire has come straight from Palin's own unforced errors.
  How Valid Is Palin'S Abortion Attack On Obama?October 13, 1998 17:17 Palin said Obama had voted against providing medical care to babies who were alive after attempted abortions. "It's very appalling," Palin said. "If more Americans could understand how absolutely extreme that position is, there would be a heck of a lot more outrage than we have already seen." Hours later, in Wisconsin, she repeated the charge that Obama had voted against providing "health care for a child who was born alive as a result of a botched abortion."

In each case, Palin's words were carefully chosen for maximum effect, without employing any outright falsehoods. Taken in isolation, however, her statements were also quite misleading, as they suggested that Obama supported the death of babies after birth who had a chance of survival.

The reality is very different. Between 2001 and '03, Obama repeatedly voted to oppose bills in the Illinois senate that would have declared, simply, that any child "born alive" as a result of an abortion shall be protected as a "human person" under the law. The bills broadly defined a live birth as any child outside the mother who shows voluntary movement, breathes or has a beating heart, among other attributes.

At the time, as the Obama campaign has pointed out, Illinois state law already required doctors to provide medical treatment for all children born after abortions who demonstrated viability, which was defined under the law as a "reasonable likelihood of sustained survival of the fetus outside the womb, with or without artificial support."
  Biden Calls Palin'S Criticism 'Mildly Dangerous'October 08, 1998 08:53 Democratic vice presidential candidate Joe Biden said Wednesday that Republican rival Sarah Palin is injecting fear and loathing into their campaign with her criticism that Barack Obama is friends with a terrorist. He called the effort "mildly dangerous."
Palin began last weekend telling supporters that Obama is close to '60s-era radical William Ayers, a founder of the violent group the Weather Underground. After first claiming that Obama had been "palling around with terrorists," she changed the thrust of the attack to say that Obama's ties to Ayers showed bad judgment.
Obama and Ayers, now a college professor, live in the same Chicago neighborhood and have served together on community boards. The Illinois senator, who was a young child when the Weathermen were planting bombs in protest of the Vietnam War, has denounced Ayers' radical views and actions. His campaign has said that Obama didn't know of Ayers' past when they first met.
In Florida on Monday, Palin's remarks about Obama and Ayers elicited waves of booing from supporters. One person at a rally shouted "Kill him!" according to a Washington Post report. A sheriff who introduced Palin at a rally referred to the Democratic candidate as "Barack Hussein Obama."

  Seven Palin Associates to TestifyOctober 05, 1998 22:04 Seven aides of Governor Sarah Palin have agreed to cooperate with an investigation into her firing of the state police chief after unsuccessfully fighting subpoenas to testify in the probe.

The state employees said they will comply with subpoenas issued last month for their statements as part of an investigation by the Alaska Legislature, according to a statement today from the state attorney general's office. The case became one of national importance after Republican presidential nominee John McCain picked Palin as his running mate.

Attorney General Talis Colberg, a Palin appointee, had asked a state judge to block the subpoenas, claiming the state Senate Judiciary Committee that issued them overstepped its bounds. The judge denied Colberg's request Oct. 2, along with a motion by five state Republican lawmakers to halt the investigation.

``Despite my initial concerns about the subpoenas, we respect the court's decision to defer to the Legislature,'' Colberg said in the statement.

The Alaska Supreme Court will consider an appeal by the Republican lawmakers on Oct. 8. They claim the investigation has become tainted by politics and want it halted immediately.
  McCain and Keating ScandalOctober 05, 1998 21:50 Democrat Barack Obama, reacting to Republican charges about his links to a 1960s radical, fired back late Sunday with a Web video about John McCain's role in the Keating Five scandal from the early 1990s.
The short video, being e-mailed to millions of Obama supporters, summarizes a 13-minute Web "documentary" that the campaign plans to distribute Monday, spokesman Tommy Vietor said. He said McCain's involvement with convicted thrift owner Charles Keating "is a window into McCain's economic past, present and future."
The video release capped a day of complaints and warnings from Obama supporters. They said McCain was inviting a harsh examination of his past by having his running mate, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, repeatedly criticize Obama's association with Bill Ayers, a founder of the Vietnam-era radical group, the Weather Underground.
Palin said Obama sees America as so imperfect "that he's palling around with terrorists who would target their own country." She was referring to Ayers, whose strongest tie to Obama appears to be a 1995 meet-the-candidate event he hosted early in Obama's political career.
  Palin Mauling McCain?October 05, 1998 21:47 SARAH PALIN’S post-Couric/Fey comeback at last week’s vice presidential debate was a turning point in the campaign. But if she “won,” as her indulgent partisans and press claque would have it, the loser was not Joe Biden. It was her running mate. With a month to go, the 2008 election is now an Obama-Palin race — about “the future,” as Palin kept saying Thursday night — and the only person who doesn’t seem to know it is Mr. Past, poor old John McCain.
  McCain Cedes MichiganOctober 02, 1998 19:07 Republican presidential candidate John McCain conceded battleground Michigan to Democrat Barack Obama on Thursday, a major retreat as he struggles to regain his footing in a campaign increasingly dominated by economic issues.
In another sign of McCain's woes, his campaign signaled that it would counter Obama's efforts in Indiana, a state that hasn't voted for a Democrat since 1964. And, a New Hampshire survey showed the Republican trailing by double digits.
With polls showing Obama leading comfortably, McCain's campaign confirmed it was pulling staff and advertising out of the economically distressed Michigan, and one adviser said it was "off the list." The GOP nominee also canceled a visit there slated for next week. Michigan, with 17 electoral votes, voted for Democrat John Kerry in 2004, but Republicans had poured money into an effort to try to place it in their column this year.
"Operations will be scaled back," said Mike DuHaime, the campaign's political director.
In Indiana, surveys show a competitive race after Obama spent months pouring money into the state and Republicans resisted countering. Now the Republican National Committee is running TV ads to fight for the state's 11 votes, and McCain senior adviser Greg Strimple said: "We're going to go there."

  Sarah Palin knows One Supreme Court CaseOctober 02, 1998 19:02 SORRY to inflict another nightmare answer from Sarah Palin to Katie Couric on you, but this one, on the Supreme Court, probably tops the lot. After a bit of waffly chit-chat on Roe V Wade, the 1973 landmark ruling that legalized abortion in the US, Couric asks her to name any other SC rulings she has disagreed with.

Palin is stumped. She can't name one. If any conservatives still believed in the wisdom of her selection this might be the moment when that belief evaporates. The only possible excuse is she just went blank, or was worried about getting the name of a case wrong.

But that is almost as bad as the complete ignorance her wide-eyed, rambling response suggests.