Friday, September 12, 2008
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Friday, September 12, 2008
In ABC Interview, Palin Seen As Struggling With Foreign Policy
While the presidential campaign's back and forth was largely suspended on Thursday's anniversary of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, ABC World News used the occasion to run extended excerpts of Charles Gibson's exclusive interview with Republican vice presidential nominee Gov. Sarah Palin, her first televised interview since coming on the national stage. ABC ran 10 minutes of the interview at the top of its broadcast, and another 2 1/2 minutes at the close.
Reviews of her performance tend to be more negative than positive, with a focus on her labored efforts to deal with foreign policy questions. The AP says Palin "struggled with foreign policy, unable to describe President Bush's doctrine of pre-emptive strikes against threatening nations and acknowledging she's never met a foreign head of state." The Chicago Tribune also notes Palin "seemed unfamiliar with the 'Bush doctrine,' which says the United States does not need to wait to be attacked before going to war." The New York Times says in "choosing Mr. Gibson as Ms. Palin's interlocutor, the campaign was going with a journalist known for having a mild manner but the gravitas to be taken seriously. But the interview was hardly gentle." Gibson "expressed exasperation" with Palin, complaining that she "had buried him in 'a blizzard of words.'" The Washington Times reports Gibson "also asked her about her travel experience, and she acknowledged that before a recent trip to Kuwait to visit Alaskan National Guard troops she had only visited Mexico and Canada and had not met personally with any foreign leaders."
However, not all reviews are negative. USA Today says "early reactions were mixed" and in her New York Times television column, Alessandra Stanley says Palin "didn't look rattled or lose her cool," but she "skittered through with general answers, sticking to talking points that flowed out quickly and spiritedly, a little too much by rote to satisfy her interviewer that she was giving his questions serious consideration." The Politico reports Palin "defended her minimal foreign policy background by citing a strong familiarity with energy issues so key to her home state, but also sought to frame her inexperience in a positive light."
At least some media reviews were more positive. For example, the New York Post says that Palin "appeared poised and self-confident during the gaffe-free session, a performance that could take the edge off Democratic attacks that she is not up to the job."
Another theme in the media today is Palin's tough foreign policy positions. The Wall Street Journal reports Palin said Georgia and Ukraine "should be admitted to NATO and that the U.S. should be prepared to go to war if Russia invades Georgia again." The Washington Post says Palin's remarks "were strikingly devoid of the diplomatic language generally used by U.S. officials when discussing relations with Russia." The New York Daily News reports that Palin's remarks on Russia "went further than" McCain's. USA Today says Palin "endorsed the right of U.S. troops to chase terror suspects from Afghanistan into Pakistan, even without the approval of that government." Sen. Barack Obama holds a similar view, which McCain once called 'naive.'" ABC News reported on its website that Palin "said that she believed a nuclear Iran presented a threat to 'everyone in the world' and that if Israel's existence was threatened by those weapons it had a right to defend itself."
The Los Angeles Times notes Palin "also reversed her stand on the cause of climate change, telling ABC News that she believes 'man's activities certainly can be contributing to the issue of global warming.' Less than a year ago, she said the opposite."
McCain Says Palin Will Soon Give "Numerous" Interviews In a blog posting, The Politico reported that in an interview yesterday with the NBC affiliate in Portland, Maine," McCain said "that Sarah Palin would be 'coming out in the next couple of days with interviews with numerous people.' ... McCain was asked why his running mate wouldn't take questions from the press or voters. 'She's very well-versed at that,' McCain said, alluding to Palin's interaction with the press as Alaska governor. He added that she would have 'a lot of conversations with the media.'"
McCain, Obama Declare Truce On 9/11
The CBS Evening News reported, "In the presidential campaign, this day was not about political differences but national unity." CBS added, "This morning, John McCain set aside the urgency of his campaign to pay tribute to those believed to have foiled the hijacking of United Flight 93 in Pennsylvania." The New York Times says the candidates "suspended all political combat on Thursday," instead making "joint visits to ground zero and a forum on public service in New York." NBC Nightly News reported both "arrived to pay their respects with 54 days left in the closely fought election campaign. Today was primarily not a day for politics." Fox News Special Report said McCain and Obama "negotiated what amounted to a temporary political truce. Today, no commercials, no political barbs, just a quiet trip to Ground Zero, a bipartisan journey of remembrance and resolve." The AP reports that the candidates "walked down a long ramp flanked with the flags of countries, chatting at times, silent other times, and sharing a quick laugh at one point."
The Hill calls McCain and Obama's time together in New York the "most remarkable moment" of the day." They "appeared to interact only fleetingly, avoiding any in-depth conversation and shaking hands in passing as they departed. Neither delivered any public remarks, although both campaigns issued statements earlier in the day."
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Obama Planning To Get Tough With McCain
The New York Times reports on its front page Sen. Barack Obama "will intensify his assault" against Sen. John McCain "with new television advertisements and more forceful attacks by the candidate and surrogates beginning Friday morning, as he confronts an invigorated Republican presidential ticket and increasing nervousness in the Democratic ranks." The Times says McCain's choice of Gov. Sarah Palin as his running mate "and the resulting jolt of energy among Republican voters appear to have caught Mr. Obama and his advisers by surprise and added to concern among some Democrats that the Obama campaign was not pushing back hard enough against Republican attacks in a critical phase of the race."
The Times report comes as the drumbeat of stories about Democrats worried about Obama's chances continues. The Christian Science Monitor adds that "some worried liberals are asking" how can Obama, "no longer the shiny new object in American politics, recapture his mojo." The Financial Times says some Capitol Hill Democrats are even worried that Obama's "faltering campaign could hurt their chances of re-election. Party leaders have been hoping to strengthen Democratic control of the House and Senate in November, but John McCain's jump in the polls has stoked fears of a Republican resurgence." The Washington Times reports Obama "is pulling back from his 50-state plan" as McCain "has solidified Republican support, turning November's presidential election into a contest for the same handful of states that have swung the last two contests."
However, one prominent Democrat is not expressing concern publicly. Following a two-hour meeting with Obama on Thursday, former President Clinton "predicted that Obama will win the presidency 'pretty handily,'" the AP reports. Fox News Special Report said Democrats "hope Clinton schooled Obama on how best to connect with economically anxious undecided voters." The Wall Street Journal says the former president "plans to hold regular campaign events in both rural and urban areas of swing states...and he'll host fund-raisers on Sen. Obama's behalf."
New Obama Ad Mocks McCain's Computer Acumen The AP reports that Sen. John McCain "is mocked as an out-of-touch, out-of-date computer illiterate" in a new TV spot put out by Sen. Barack Obama's campaign. The spot "includes unflattering footage of McCain at a hearing in the early '80s, wearing giant glasses and an out-of-style suit, interspersed with shots of a disco ball, a clunky phone, an outdated computer and a Rubix Cube." The voiceover says McCain "admits he still doesn't know how to use a computer, can't send an e-mail, still doesn't understand the economy, and favors two hundred billion in new tax cuts for corporations, but almost nothing for the middle class."
Palin Sees Off Son's Army Unit, Links Iraq To 9/11 Attacks
The CBS Evening News reported Gov. Sarah Palin returned to Alaska yesterday "for a solemn reason, to see off her 19-year-old son Track, whose Army unit is deploying to Iraq." On its front page, the Washington Post reports Palin "linked the war in Iraq with the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, telling an Iraq-bound brigade of soldiers that included her son that they would 'defend the innocent from the enemies who planned and carried out and rejoiced in the death of thousands of Americans.'" The Post says the "idea that the Iraqi government under Saddam Hussein helped al-Qaeda plan the attacks," a view "once promoted by Bush administration officials, has since been rejected even by the president himself."
Writing at The Weekly Standard, Bill Kristol says, "Kornblut's interpretation of what Palin said is either stupid or malicious. ... It makes no sense for Kornblut to claim that Palin is arguing here that Saddam Hussein's regime carried out 9/11 -- obviously Palin isn't saying that our soldiers are now going over to Iraq to fight Saddam's regime. Palin isn't linking Saddam to 9/11. She's linking al Qaeda in Iraq to al Qaeda."
USA Today Portrays Palin Governorship As Bipartisan
USA Today has a relatively positive front page feature on Gov. Sarah Palin, saying that while "much attention has been focused on her deeply conservative social views," in her time as governor, Palin "has taken few steps to advance culturally conservative causes. Instead, after she knocked off an incumbent amid an influence-peddling scandal linked to the oil industry, Palin pursued a populist agenda that toughened ethics rules and raised taxes on oil and gas companies. And she did so while relying on Democratic votes in the Legislature."
McCain Leads 3 National Polls, Tied In Fourth
A McClatchy /Ipsos poll of 876 registered voters taken September 5-9 shows McCain leading Obama 46%-45% with Ralph Nader at 2% and Bob Barr (L) at 1%. McClatchy reports, "A majority of voters, 60 percent, think that Biden is qualified to be president, while 31 percent think he is not. By comparison, 48 percent of voters think Palin is qualified, while 44 percent think she is not."
A Democracy Corps poll of 1000 likely voters taken September 8-10 shows McCain leading Obama 48%-46% including leaners, with Ralph Nader pulling 2% and Bob Barr taking 1%.
The Gallup daily presidential tracking poll of 2,718 registered voters taken September 8-10 shows McCain leading Obama 48%-44%.
The Rasmussen Reports automated daily presidential tracking poll for September 11 shows Obama and McCain tied at 46% and at 48% including leaners.
State Polls Continue To Show Tight Race
As they did yesterday, another big round of polls from key battleground states out in the last 24 hours continue to portray a tight race at the state level.
Polls Conflict In Michigan A Rasmussen Reports automated poll of 700 likely Michigan voters taken September 10 shows Obama leading McCain 51%-46%. An Insider Advantage /Poll Position survey of 503 likely Michigan voters taken 9/10 shows McCain leading Obama 45%-44%.
McCain Up In Florida. An Insider Advantage /Poll Position survey of 511 likely Florida voters taken 9/10 shows McCain leading Obama 50%-42%.
Two Polls Show McCain Up In Ohio An Insider Advantage /Poll Position survey of 503 likely Ohio voters taken 9/10 shows McCain leading Obama 48%-47%. A Strategic Vision (R) poll of 1,200 likely Ohio voters taken September 7-9 shows McCain leading Obama 48%-44%.
Obama Has Narrow Lead In Colorado An Insider Advantage /Poll Position survey of 501 likely Colorado voters taken 9/10 shows Obama leading McCain 49%-46%.
McCain Edges Obama In Nevada An Insider Advantage /Poll Position survey of 518 likely Nevada voters taken 9/10 shows McCain leading Obama 46%-45%.
McCain Up Big In North Carolina A Research 2000 poll of 600 likely North Carolina voters taken September 8-10 for Daily Kos (D) shows McCain leading Obama 55%-38%.
Two Polls Show McCain Up Big In Georgia A Strategic Vision (R) poll of 800 likely Georgia voters taken September 7-9 shows McCain leading Obama 52%-39%. An Insider Advantage/Southern Political Report /Poll position survey of 506 registered Georgia voters shows McCain leading Obama 56%-38%.
Obama Easily Ahead In Maine A Research 2000 poll of 600 likely Maine voters taken September 8-10 for Daily Kos (D) shows Obama leading McCain 52%-38%.
McCain Has Wide Lead In Mississippi A Research 2000 poll of 600 likely Mississippi voters taken September 8-10 for Daily Kos (D) shows McCain leading Obama 52%-39%.
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Bush: US "Did Not Fail" In 9/11 Response
On the seventh anniversary of the September 11th, 2001 terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, President Bush highlighted US success in preventing domestic terror attacks. The AP reports Bush said Thursday "that after the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, fade from memory, history will look back at America's response and conclude that 'we did not tire, we did not falter and we did not fail.'" Bush observed the seventh anniversary of the attack "with a moment of silence at the White House" and later attended a Pentagon ceremony dedicating a new memorial to those killed there.
An AP analysis piece says for the rest of the country, "the fears and feelings of that day aren't fresh" and "a raft of new polling shows that most people do not worry that terrorists will strike again soon."
National Journal cites polling data from ABC News/Washington Post, CBS News, Gallup, and CNN/Opinion Research -- in reporting that "despite a new report concluding that the US is still vulnerable to an attack using weapons of mass destruction, a growing number of Americans express confidence in their safety." Despite that confidence, the Bush Administration "gets mixed reviews."
Memorials Mark Anniversary Of Attacks There is widespread reporting in the major dailies and on wire services this morning on yesterday's memorial services, and it was one of the top stories on the network evening newscasts last night. The CBS Evening News led with the story, reporting that "Americans paused to remember the nearly 3,000 people who died on September 11 which for generations will never be simply a date on the calendar but a day forever etched in our memories." NBC Nightly News reported, "A chilly wind blew where a crowd gathered in Shanksville, Pennsylvania where United Airlines Flight 93 crashed into that open field. At the Pentagon, the first national memorial to 9/11 victims was dedicated today." In New York City, families of the victims "clutched photos of their loved ones as the names of the almost 3,000 who died were read aloud."
The AP quotes from Bush's remarks at the Pentagon, and says "it was a patriotic and emotional service." The Washington Post reports on its front page, "Surely no one who had seen the Pentagon burning seven years ago could have envisioned the scene that unfolded there yesterday." The Los Angeles Times reports the attendance of former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, who was praised by Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates "for his 'valor' in the Pentagon that day." The Washington Times reports, "Mr. Bush, whose presidency was transformed on that day seven years ago, said American troops have fought to ensure the nation's safety, taking no credit for himself."
No Permanent Memorial At Ground Zero Near the end of its report on Thursday's ceremonies, ABC World News noted the lack of a permanent memorial at Ground Zero, adding that "there is unlikely to be one any time soon. 'The Wall Street Journal' recently called the rebuilding efforts on these 16 acres 'arguably the biggest political and bureaucratic fiasco in the history of the world.'" NBC Nightly News also aired a report focusing on Ground Zero, where "many have questioned why there has not been more progress in what has become a national scar."
Bush OKed US Military Action In Pakistan
As first reported in the New York Times on Thursday, President Bush in July authorized the military to cross the Afghan-Pakistan border to pursue Taliban and al Qaeda insurgents. The AP reports the "high-risk gambit prizes the death or capture of al-Qaida and Taliban extremists over the sensitivities of a shaky U.S.-backed civilian government that does not want to seem like Washington's lapdog." Officials "said the last straw came when it appeared Pakistani authorities were passing tips to militants."
The CBS Evening News reported the US is "saying to the Pakistanis you can't have it both ways. You can't be an ally in the war on terror, you can't have so much US aid and support and at the same time not do anything about the fact that your territory is being used by al Qaeda and other fighters as a safe haven, as a base of operations. And that's a problem." The Wall Street Journal reports, "Taken together, the measures mean the U.S. has effectively opened a third front in its war on terror, with Pakistan joining Afghanistan and Iraq as a major battle zone." The Los Angeles Times reports the use of "specially equipped drones comes amid a fundamental shift in U.S. strategy in the area. After years of deferring to Pakistani authorities, the Bush administration is turning toward unilateral American military operations -- a gambit that could increase pressure on Islamic militants but risks alienating a country that has been a key counter-terrorism ally."
US Deaths In Afghanistan Reach New High The reports that President Bush has authorized a more aggressive approach to the insurgency in Afghanistan coincide with the news that 2008 has become the deadliest year in Afghanistan for the US. The AP reports insurgents "killed two U.S. troops in Afghanistan on the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks Thursday, making 2008 the deadliest year for American forces since U.S. troops invaded the country in 2001 for sheltering Osama bin Laden." The deaths "brought the number of troops who have died in Afghanistan this year to 113, according to an Associated Press tally, surpassing last year's record toll of 111."
Democrats Yield On Offshore Drilling
Bowing to shifting political tides and Republican pressure, congressional Democrats are prepared to give ground on offshore drilling for oil and natural gas. The New York Times reported that under a measure being assembled for a vote in the House next week, "oil rigs could go up 50 miles from the shores of states that welcome drilling and 100 miles off any section of the United States coast -- a stark reversal on an issue that has been a Democratic environmental touchstone since the 1980s." But House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has linked the new legislation to "a list of Democratic energy initiatives like new alternative fuel requirements for utility companies, renewable energy tax incentives to be paid for by repealing federal oil industry subsidies, new natural gas programs and a series of home and office energy efficiency measures."
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The Latest From Late Night Comedians
Jay Leno: Sen. Joseph Biden put "his foot in his mouth the other day again. When out on the campaign trail, he told a crowd of people that Hillary Clinton 'might have been a better pick for vice president than me,' to which Hillary said, 'It's not too late!'"
Jay Leno: Gov. Sarah Palin "went back to Alaska for a while. So you know that what that means -- people can go back to ignoring John McCain again."
David Letterman: Palin's ABC interview "went very well, and during the interview, Sarah Palin actually gave birth to her sixth child."
Conan O'Brien: "Sarah Palin's been spending the last couple of days being briefed by advisers on what she needs to know to be John McCain's vice president. Apparently, the first thing they taught her was CPR."