Palin heads back to Alaska! - and other stories on our radar:
ON THE TRAIL: McCain and Palin begin the day together at a rally in Fairfax, VA. McCain moves on to Philadelphia while Palin heads to Fairbanks, AK. Obama has an event in Norfolk. VA in the morning before heading to New York City where he’ll be on the Late Show with David Letterman. Biden will spend the day in New Hampshire where we’ll host a town hall meeting.
RAW POLITICS: Abortion is always a hot button issue in any election and the nomination of Sarah Palin adds fuel to the abortion debate because of her strong anti-abortion stance. She opposes abortion even in cases of rape and incest and gave birth to an infant son she knew had Down syndrome. Her democratic counterpart, Joe Biden, is a Catholic who believes life begins at conception but said say he would not "impose" his personal views on others. Gary Tuchman takes a look at the raw politics of abortion and how it could play out in the 2008 race.
AFGHANISTAN-IRAQ SECURITY AND STABILITY HEARING: The House Armed Services Committee holds a hearing on "Security and Stability in Afghanistan and Iraq: Developments in U.S. Strategy and Operations and the Way Ahead." Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Michael G. Mullen are scheduled to testify.
TED STEVENS HEARING: A hearing has been scheduled in the case against Alaska senator Ted Stevens who was charged with making false statements on financial disclosure forms.
NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP AIR RACES: Five days of air races between six classes of planes including biplanes, formula one, and jet class air craft. It’s the 45th year of this event which takes place in Reno.
FUNNIEST CELEBRITY IN WASHINGTON CONTEST: It’s the 15th year for this contest which gives journalists, politicians, sports figures and local celebrities a chance to fight for the title of “Funniest Celebrity in Washington.” This year’s contenders include Mike Huckabee and CNN’s own Jamie McIntyre.
START-UP OF LARGE HADRON COLLIDER: CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, is scheduled to make its first attempt to circulate a beam in the controversial Large Hadron Collider. The collider consists of a particle accelerator buried more than 300 feet near Geneva, Switzerland. The test is a major step toward seeing if the experiment will provide new information about the way the universe works but some fear that the collider could produce black holes that could suck up anything around them - including the whole Earth.
Editor's note: See Dana's full report tonight on AC360 at 10pm.
CNN Congressional Correspondent
I went to call a McCain aide about a new ad they put up hitting obama for advocating sex ed for kindergarten, but the aide didn’t want to talk about that.
Instead, he immediately asked if I had heard yet about what Obama had just said minutes earlier “about Palin.”
I said I hadn’t, and then he informed me that Obama had just said “you can put lipstick on a pig, but it’s still a pig.”
With the sounds of a manic McCain war room echoing through the phone, the aide declared this a “crystallizing moment for the depths they’ve gone to now.”
When I asked about it, and our producer traveling with Obama, Sasha Johnson, sent around the full context of the quote, it became a lot less clear, to say the least, that Obama was calling out Palin.
In a riff mocking McCain for suggesting he can change Washington, Obama said:
“YOU KNOW YOU CAN PUT LIPSTICK ON A PIG, BUT IT'S STILL A PIG. YOU KNOW YOU CAN (CHEERS) YOU CAN YOU CAN, WRAP AN OLD FISH IN A PIECE OF PAPER CALLED CHANGE, IT'S STILL GOING TO STINK AFTER 8 YEARS. WE'VE HAD ENOUGH OF THE SAME OLD THING. IT'S TIME TO BRING ABOUT REAL CHANGE TO WASHINGTON.”
But Obama was barely done saying that in Lebanon, Ohio, and the McCain campaign had already arranged a conference call with former Massachusetts Governor Jane Swift, who called Obama’s comments a “disgrace” and demanded he apologize to Palin.
Several reporters on the call, including myself, asked Swift why she is sure Obama was talking about Palin?
“Calling a very prominent female governor a pig is not what we want,” said Swift, “as far as I know, she is the only one of the four presidential candidates that wears lipstick."
And how does she explain the fact that the term “lipstick on a pig” has become a standard term in the political lexicon….used even by McCain in the GOP primary to describe Mitt Romney?
"I think there is a difference and I think ultimately the American people will realize that calling a prominent female governor a pig is not acceptable," said Swift.
Well, minutes after the call, anyone with google was finding quotes from politicians of all stripes using that term – even McCain used it against Hillary Clinton once.
If nothing else, the way the McCain campaign pounced on the comments is a classic illustration of the way they think gender politics can be played against Obama with Palin on the ticket – especially given the lingering bitterness among some Hillary Clinton supporters who think she got a raw deal because she’s a woman.
But privately, one McCain ally I talked to tonight suggested that the mostly men who run the McCain campaign have got to be careful to chose their battles in their gender wars more carefully.
For what’s in the program take a look at tonight’s Evening Buzz.
Don’t forget to watch Erica Hill’s webcast during the commercials. LINK TO WEBCAST
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We’ll start posting comments to this blog at 10p ET and stop at 11p ET.
56 days isn’t much time to get to know someone but that’s what voters - and newsrooms – are up against with Gov. Sarah Palin. Before long-time senator Joe Biden became Barack Obama’s running mate, he was, of course, a presidential candidate. We’ve heard him talk about the issues and the policies he supports – at length and in great detail. We’re still waiting for Palin to do the same. We’ve seen the energy and excitement she’s injected into John McCain’s campaign but we’ve yet to hear - straight from Palin herself - exactly where she stands on many of the issues Americans say they care most about. Just like nature, politics abhors a vacuum, and rumors about Palin are flying all over the internet – about how she tried to ban books at her local library after becoming mayor and how she cut funding for special education programs. Tonight, we’ll separate the facts from the fiction, just like we’ve done with rumors about Obama.
We’ll also take a close look at Palin’s environmental record in Alaska. She supports oil and gas drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge – and her critics say when energy exploration butts head with the environment, nature usually ends up taking a back seat. As governor, Palin pushed to lift a ban on hunting wolves from planes, a practice that’s been illegal nationwide since 1972. 360’s Randi Kaye is in Alaska digging deeper.
We’ll also look at the sparks over Joe Biden’s remarks today about stem cell research and Barack Obama’s reference to “lipstick on pigs.” It was a busy and testy day on the trail.
If the program seems a bit heavy on Palin coverage, we think it’s justified. As we said, 56 days isn’t much time to get to know someone. We’re doing our best to take the mystery out of an unknown. What questions about Palin, her experience, and her views are most important to you? We’ll see you at 10 eastern.
[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/09/02/art.palin.podium.jpg width=292 height=320]
Last week, I was a tad distracted by the hurricane hurtling my way, but I spent my evacuation going between coverage of the storm that was Gustav and the storm that was Sarah Palin (whose speech I watched upon my return to New Orleans at a Magazine Street bar, as we still had no electricity). Now that my power has been restored, the mess that was my yard has been cleaned up (I have the scars to prove it) and New Orleans is out of danger (for the moment), I feel as though I must put in my two cents regarding the response of the media to Sarah Palin, including that of some of my fellow wOwers.
First, let me say that I was appalled by it generally, but I’ll try to dismantle the reaction piece by piece. First, there is the stunning double standard. In an op-ed piece in the Los Angeles Times, Gloria Steinem refers to the “ridicule and misogyny” suffered by Hillary Clinton. Both those words could certainly apply to what Sarah Palin went through last week. Blogs accused her of faking her own pregnancy with a Down syndrome child to cover up for her daughter. Mainstream journalists — female mainstream journalists — like Norah O’Donnell questioned whether a mother of five could effectively function as vice president. More piled on about her irresponsibility in accepting the nomination with five children, including one with special needs. Alan Colmes suggested on his blog that her airplane travel had possibly contributed to the fact that her child was born with Down syndrome.
Unless you’re the state of Alaska, chances are your budget isn’t pretty these days. Uncle Sam is really looking ugly. In one year, the nation’s budget deficit is up 153%. That's a lot more than double. The Congressional Budget Office today predicted the deficit will balloon to $407 BILLION. Why such a bleak forecast? "The nation is experiencing a significant period of economic weakness," said Peter Orszag, director of the Congressional Budget Office.
I’m no economist, but I think he’s on to something.
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Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., speaks to supporters during a rally for Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., Monday afternoon in Tampa, Fla.
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[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/09/09/art.obama.icecream.jpg caption="Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama, enjoys a shakes during a campaign stop at Ellis Soda Shoppe in Abington, Virginia, Tuesday."]
Editor's Note: The following is from a pool reporter on the campaign trail with Sen. Barack Obama
New York Times
Senator Barack Obama arrived at the Ellis Soda Shoppe & Grill in the southern Virginia town of Abingdon about 3:50 p.m. Only a few customers were on hand to greet him, but by the time he left 30 minutes later, word apparently had spread and nearly 100 people were waiting along West Main Street to shake his hand and catch a closer look.
For all the planning that goes into such photo opportunities, one of the most interesting moments was spontaneous. As the senator made his way around the small restaurant – decorated in antique Coca-Cola memorabilia – he came across Don Garlits.
“This is the father of drag racing, right here!” Mr. Obama said, introducing Mr. Garlits to the cameras.
Indeed, the 76-year-old man who called himself "Big Daddy Garlits" is known as the pioneer of drag racing for a career that spanned from 1950 to 2003. (He said he retired five years ago, ending with a 310 m.p.h. race.) He lives in Ocala, Fla., but he and his wife were visiting their daughter and came to Ellis Soda Shoppe for some ice cream. They weren’t expecting to bump into a presidential candidate.
[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/09/09/art.palin.cu.jpg]Editor's Note: Watch Randi Kaye's interview with Rick Steiner on Sarah Palin's environmental record tonight on AC360° at 10pm ET.
Professor, University of Alaska
While I disagree with many of Senator John McCain’s policies and I was not planning to vote for him, I was willing to concede that he may at least make a wise, rational president and represent a step in the right direction for the nation – an acceptable second choice. No longer. With his pick of Alaska Governor Sarah Palin as his running mate, he has shown a spectacular, even dangerous, lack of judgment. What is not important here is the glitz and glamour, the appearance of the candidates, and the number of balloons at the conventions. What is critically important are the decisions either ticket would make in Washington on the issues we all care about, and how they would make those decisions.
In addition to her frightening lack of qualification to be vice president (much less president and commander-in-chief) of the United States, Palin is an evangelical, anti-choice, pro-gun, right wing conservative that wants creationism taught in schools. She is currently under investigation by the Alaska Legislature for alleged abuse of office in firing the state’s public safety commissioner over a family feud. Many of us in Alaska simply cannot imagine Palin having anything to do with U.S. foreign policy, domestic policy, national defense or the countless other affairs of federal governance.
And a particularly worrisome aspect of the Palin candidacy is her abysmal record on the environment during her 2 years as Alaska governor, and how that would translate into national environmental policy if she became Vice President. Her environmental record as Governor of the nation’s “last frontier” deserves close examination.
[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/09/09/art.judgejackieglass.jpg caption= "Clark County District Court Judge Jackie Glass presides during the second day of jury selection for the O.J. Simpson trial at the Clark County Regional Justice Center in Las Vegas."]
Editor’s Note: O.J. Simpson is on trial on robbery and kidnapping charges nearly a year after police arrested him in Las Vegas, Nevada. Prosecutors say Simpson and five other men stormed into a Las Vegas hotel room last September 13 to recover sports memorabilia that Simpson said belonged to him. They say at least two men with Simpson had guns as they robbed two sports memorabilia dealers. The following dispatches come from our Paul Vercammen covering the trial:
CNN Senior Producer
Judge Jackie Glass dismissed the 20th potential juror in the OJ Simpson kidnapping and armed robbery trial after the manager of the flooring company said there's not a smidgeon of doubt about keeping her personal feelings out of the case.
The excused panelist said "I felt he (Simpson) got away with murder."
The middle aged woman, alluding to the Simpson murder trial, said "I think he was guilty the first time."
So far just 8 of 40 jurors needed to pass for cause, have withered the questioning process of prosecutors and defense attorneys.
Jurors waiting for their turn can be seen rubbing their foreheads and propping their heads in their hands.
The jurors have been dismissed for lunch.
Judge Jackie Glass had her marshalls bring 21 more potential jurors up to courtroom 11D for the O.J. Simpson kidnapping and armed robbery Trial.
They may or may not be questioned by lawyers during the deliberation process.
Glass is asking general questions of the potential panelists, including if they or anyone close to them has ever committed a crime.
Glass is asking if any of the potential panelists have hard feelings against law enforcement based on their relatives' alleged crimminal activity.
The court has passed through eight potential jurors and needs 40 total before attornies can begin their challenges to remove jurors.