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CHICAGO – President-elect Barack Obama said Monday a review by his own lawyer shows he had no direct contact with Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich about the appointment of a Senate replacement, and transition aides “did nothing inappropriate.”
Obama said he is prepared to make the review public, but decided to hold off because prosecutors asked for a delay and “I don’t want to interfere with an ongoing investigation.”
Controversy has swirled around the president-elect and his incoming White House chief of staff, Rep. Rahm Emanuel, following Blagojevich’s arrest last week on charges he schemed to trade Obama’s Senate seat for personal gain.
Obama, fielding questions at a news conference, sidestepped when asked whether Emanuel had spoken with aides to the governor.
Emanuel was one of several aides who watched the news conference from the wings.
The president-elect pledged the results of the investigation by his incoming White House counsel, Gregory Craig, would be released “in due course.”
He said the probe was complete and thorough, but did not say which of his aides Craig interviewed, whether any of them was under oath at the time, or any other details.
CHICAGO – Bill Richardson is beardless and back in the cabinet. The governor of New Mexico and former presidential candidate appeared beside President-elect Barack Obama on Wednesday to accept his third cabinet-level post, this time as secretary of commerce.
Mr. Richardson, the first Hispanic chosen for Mr. Obama’s cabinet, made remarks in both English and Spanish as he took the assignment, signaling the importance of his selection for the new administration. Mr. Obama said he picked Mr. Richardson because of his deep experience and skills, not his ethnic heritage, but promised to produce a diverse senior team.
“When people look back and see the entire slate, what they will say is – not only in terms of my cabinet but in terms of my White House staff – I think people are going to say this is one of the most diverse cabinets and White House staffs of all time,” said Mr. Obama, who will be the first African American president. “But more importantly, they’re going to say these are all people of outstanding qualifications and excellence.”
Hispanic groups have lobbied strongly on behalf of Mr. Richardson, arguing that Hispanic voters in last month’s election helped deliver at least four states for Mr. Obama that voted for President Bush four years ago: Nevada, Colorado, Florida and Mr. Richardson’s New Mexico. Mr. Obama is also eyeing Rep. Xavier Becerra of California, a member of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, to become the United States trade representative, a position that has had cabinet status in the past.
Mr. Richardson has served in the cabinet twice before, first as President Bill Clinton’s ambassador to the United Nations and then as his secretary of energy. Mr. Richardson had his eye on secretary of state this time around but lost out to Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton. Although the commerce slot is generally seen as a second-tier position, Mr. Obama said it would play a pivotal role in setting and executing his economic recovery agenda.
“Well, commerce secretary is a pretty good job, you know,” Mr. Obama said to suggestions that it was a consolation prize for Mr. Richardson. “It’s a member of my key economic team that is going to be dealing with the most significant issue that America faces right now and that is how do we put people back to work and rejuvenate the economy?”
As for the beard that Mr. Richardson grew after dropping his own bid for the presidency earlier this year, it was gone by Wednesday morning’s news conference. Mr. Obama, tongue in cheek, declared that a mistake. “I thought that whole western rugged look was really working for him,” the president-elect said.
During a Hannity & Colmes interview last night (11/24/08), Republican Governor of North Carolina Mark Sanford, introduced as “one of the rising stars of the Republican Party,” cracked up when Alan Colmes asked if Sarah Palin might be one of the future stars of her party. He quickly recovered by offering the faint praise that she’d be “among the mix.” But then he soon moved on to name other names that did not include hers. With video.
In their discussion about the future of the GOP, Sanford told Colmes, “If you look at the Bobby Jindals of the world, who’s the governor of Louisiana, or look at Rick Perry in Texas or Mitch Daniels up in Indiana, there are a lot of governors, there are a lot of folks at the precinct level, at the county level who are working very hard to bring back the conservatism in the Republican Party.”
Colmes asked “Who else would you put in that category? …Sarah Palin for example?”
Sanford laughed heartily. Then he added, “Uh, certainly. She’s among the mix. I think it’s a broad swath that literally goes from Jim Douglas, who won in the most blue of blue states there, in Vermont… or it is indeed somebody who’s like a young rising star like Bobby Jindal. It is somebody like Sonny Perdue there in Georgia, who’s been working on a lot of neat reforms. It’s a broad swath of different folks.”
He never mentioned Palin again.
Source: News Hounds
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — Oprah wants her, and so do Letterman and Leno. Fresh from her political defeat, Sarah Palin is juggling offers to write books, appear in films and sit on dozens of interview couches at a rate that would be astonishing for most Hollywood stars, let alone a first-term governor.
Sarah Palin continues to attract huge media interest despite her failed bid to become vice president.
The failed Republican vice presidential candidate crunched state budget numbers this week in her 17th-floor office as tumbling oil prices hit Alaska’s revenues. Meanwhile, her staff fielded television requests seeking the 44-year-old for late-night banter and Sunday morning Washington policy.
Agents, including those from the William Morris Agency, have come knocking. There’s even been an offer to host a TV show.
“Tomorrow, Gov. Palin could do an interview with any news media on the planet,” said her spokesman, Bill McAllister. “Tomorrow, she could probably sign any one of a dozen book deals. She could start talking to people about a documentary or a movie on her life. That’s the level we are at here.”
“Barbara Walters called me. George Stephanopoulos called me,” McAllister said. “I’ve had multiple conversations with producers for Oprah, Letterman, Leno and ‘The Daily Show.’ ”
Asked whether Winfrey was pursuing Palin for a sit-down, Michelle McIntyre, a spokeswoman for Winfrey’s Chicago-based Harpo Productions Inc., said she was “unable to confirm any future plans” for the show.
Palin may have emerged from the campaign politically wounded, with questions about her preparedness for higher office and reports of an expensive wardrobe, but she’s returned to Alaska with an expanded, if unofficial, title: international celebrity.
Sen. John McCain plucked Palin out of relative obscurity in late August and put her on the national Republican ticket. Now, she has to decide how and where to spend her time, which could have implications for her political future and her bank account, with possible land mines of legal and ethical rules.
Palin is considering about 800 requests for appearances from December through 2009, with 75 percent coming from out of state. A year ago, just a sprinkle of requests came from beyond Alaska’s borders. They range from invitations to speak at the Chief Executives’ Club of Boston, Massachusetts, and to attend a 5-year-old’s birthday party, from a prayer breakfast in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, to a business conference in Britain.
Michael Steele, the former Maryland lieutenant governor who wants to be the next chairman of the Republican National Committee, is seeking face time.
She has invitations to make appearances in 20 foreign countries, typically with all expenses paid, McAllister said. She has more than 200 requests for media interviews, again from around the globe.
“She has to pace herself,” suggested veteran Hollywood publicist Howard Bragman. “She wants a career made in a Crock-Pot, not a microwave.”
In her two months on the national stage, Palin energized the Republican base but turned off moderates and independents, according to some surveys. Flubbed answers in national television interviews raised questions about her competence. She was embarrassed by the disclosure that the RNC spent at least $150,000 for designer clothing, accessories and beauty services for her and her family.
The right book or movie deal could help Palin reintroduce herself to the nation, on terms she could dictate.
Although books and movie deals could be worth millions of dollars, it’s not clear whether Palin would be able to legally earn it. State rules say she cannot accept outside employment for compensation. But there appears to be little in the way of precedent left by former governors to judge if book deals or lucrative speaking appearances amount to “employment.”
Palin has sent unmistakable signals that she is open to running for president in 2012, but to advance her political ambitions, she must stay in the public eye in the lower 48 states.
As with any celebrity, there is the risk of overexposure. At the same time, she’ll be under pressure to attend to governing her home state, which is thousands of miles from the rest of the nation.
“She has to deal with the perception that she bobbled her debut,” said Claremont McKenna College political scientist John Pitney. “She needs to stay home for a while. If she wants a future in national politics, her No. 1 job is doing a good job as governor.”
Just this week, shortly after conducting a string of national TV interviews and skipping a state education conference, she was scolded by the Anchorage Daily News.
“There are … low graduation rates, plummeting North Slope oil prices, proposals to build alternative energy projects, the gas pipeline,” the paper said in an editorial. “It’s time for the governor to refocus on Alaska’s needs.”
So long as Palin is in Alaska ~ then I’m okay with that! Go Todd!!
The last public event at which Gov. Sarah Palin was accompanied by Secret Service agents during the 2008 campaign was on the day after the election, when she arrived home in Alaska on the McCain-Palin campaign plane. As the governor greeted supporters on the tarmac outside a charter jet hangar, agents formed the usual protective wall around the former vice-presidential candidate.
But that was not, apparently, the last the Palins saw of at least some of the agents.
On Thursday, according to the governor, her husband Todd, a four time champion of the Iron Dog snow machine race, took some of the agents out for a taste of his favorite subarctic sport.
“They were dying to know, ‘Well, what is that all about up there in Alaska?’” Ms. Palin said at the end of a brief interview in her office on Friday. “Well, they escorted us up to Alaska, so Todd took them out on machines. That was a blast.”
Could there have been more to it than just fun? Was the Secret Service thinking ahead, preparing for a possible future administration? Had Ms. Palin become vice president, questions loomed over whether agents would have had to accompany Mr. Palin the next time he competes in the Iron Dog, a 2,000 mile race across the tundra each February. The race is unforgiving, to say the least. This year, Mr. Palin broke his arm when he was thrown from his machine with 400 miles to go, though he got patched up and still came in fourth.
Then again, maybe the Palins just befriended some of the agents. The governor often joked on the campaign trail that her husband, an oil production supervisor on Alaska’s North Slope, “looks like one of the Secret Service guys”
“What’s their problem?” McCain asked during an interview with radio host Don Imus.
“She is a governor, the most popular governor in America,” McCain said. “I think she is the most qualified of any that has run recently for vice president.”
“I’m amazed. I’m amazed. Which is better? Serve 35 years in the United States Senate and say you’ve got to divide Iraq into three different countries, or be governor of a state and a reformer and give people their tax dollars back and bring about reform in the way that your state does business? Which is better?”
Several leading conservatives, including columnists Kathleen Parker of National Review and David Brooks of the New York Times, have questioned McCain’s judgment in selecting Palin.
Parker called Palin “out of her league” in a September column urging the Alaska governor to drop out of the race. Brooks, meanwhile, called Palin “a fatal cancer to the Republican Party” during a forum hosted by The Atlantic magazine earlier this month.
McCain dismissed their criticisms and credited Palin for energizing the conservative base in a year in which the GOP faces “a stiff headwind.”
“She has ignited our crowds,” McCain said. “She has a wonderful family, a great husband, great values and she shares my worldview.”
“I’m entertained at the elitist attitude towards a person who is proven leader.”
Looking back on Palin’s early interviews with ABC’s Charles Gibson and CBS’s Katie Couric, McCain said Palin did well and derided the press for asking “gotcha” questions.
“She did a great job in those interviews. If you want to go with the gotcha questions that’s fine, that’s fine, I understand that. I get them all the time,” the Arizona senator said. “It’s easy to make fun of people and ask them gotcha questions. That’s fine. I understand how the game is played. But don’t think the American people buy that baloney.”
McCain also mocked suggestions that Palin has to face tough interviews on the Sunday shows in order to prove herself to voters.
“That’s hilarious. With thousands of people showing up at town hall meetings, I’ve never had a person show up and ask when she is going on ‘Meet the Press.’ Not one.”
With less than two weeks to go before Election Day, the Republican conceded that he is trailing Barack Obama but seemed optimistic about his chances.
“We’re doing fine. We have a lot of enthusiasm out there. We’re working hard and enjoying the rallies and having fun. I’m very confident,” he said. “I think we’re behind, but it’s within the margin of error and we’re coming up. All the indicators are that we’re coming up.”
John McCain’s campaign is pretty much a shambles right now.
If you don’t believe me, just listen to John McCain. His chief goal these days is calming down his crowds, not firing them up.
And that is an honorable thing to do. It may not be a winning thing to do. But it is honorable.
The real problem for McCain is that Palin is running a separate — and scary — campaign that does not seem to be under anybody’s control.
Sarah Palin, once seen as a huge plus to the ticket, is now increasingly emerging as a liability.
Forget that an independent legislative panel found Friday that she had abused her power and violated ethics laws as governor of Alaska. Forget that with the possibility of Palin being a heartbeat away from the presidency, McCain gives up the argument that his ticket represents experience and a steady hand on the tiller.
The real problem for McCain is that Palin is running a separate — and scary — campaign that does not seem to be under anybody’s control.
She storms around the country saying: “Our opponent … is someone who sees America, it seems, as being so imperfect, imperfect enough that he’s palling around with terrorists who would target their own country.”
She also says: “This is not a man who sees America as you see America and as I see America.”
Get the drift? Obama is not only different, not only an alien incapable of loving his country, he is an actual friend of terrorists who would attack America.
The great benefit of putting Palin on the ticket, we were told, is that it would excite the Republican base. Maybe it will. But the Republican base has never been smaller. And it is insufficient to carry the McCain-Palin ticket to victory.
To win, the Republican ticket must attract a significant number of independent voters, swing voters and even some Democrats. Do Sarah Palin’s attacks really help achieve that?
Her attacks certainly appeal to some. Cries of “traitor” and “terrorist” and “off with his head” are heard at Republican rallies when Obama’s name is mentioned.
This is scary stuff. And you know who is getting scared by it? John McCain.
And Palin is not the only one who is fear-mongering. Karen Tumulty of Time magazine was invited by the McCain campaign to visit its operations in Virginia on Saturday. So Tumulty was there when Virginia Republican Party Chairman Jeffrey M. Frederick “climbed atop a folding chair to give 30 campaign volunteers who were about to go canvassing door to door their talking points — for instance, the connection between Barack Obama and Osama bin Laden.”
“Both have friends that bombed the Pentagon,” Frederick said. “That is scary.”
At Tumulty points out, “It is also not exactly true — though that distorted reference to Obama’s controversial association with William Ayers, a former ’60s radical, was enough to get the volunteers stoked. ‘And he won’t salute the flag,’ one woman added, repeating another myth about Obama. She was quickly topped by a man who called out, ‘We don’t even know where Sen. Obama was really born.’ Actually, we do; it’s Hawaii.”
(And, actually, John McCain was born in the Panama Canal Zone, a location at least as exotic as Hawaii.)
Sighs and lies. Swift boat. Attack. Just do it.
This is scary stuff. And you know who is getting scared by it? John McCain.
When a crowd member said at a town meeting in Lakeville, Minn., on Friday that he feared what would happen if Obama were elected, McCain said that Obama is “a decent person and a person that you do not have to be scared of as president of the United States.”
The crowd booed.
Why wouldn’t it? McCain says there is nothing to fear from Obama, while McCain’s running mate says Obama pals around with terrorists who target America.
Is there a little confusion here?
At the same event in Minnesota, a woman in the crowd told McCain that she doesn’t trust Obama because “he’s an Arab.”
Taking the microphone from her, McCain said, “No, ma’am. He’s a decent family man, a citizen, that I just happen to have disagreements with on fundamental issues, and that’s what this campaign is all about.”
Maybe that is what McCain would like his campaign to be all about. But others are telling him to forget that “fundamental issues” stuff.
The polls stink, they are telling him. The voter registration numbers stink. And Obama may have the most effective ground organization in Democratic history.
There are those whispering in McCain’s ear that if he gets into the gutter, he can get into the White House.
So how can McCain close the gap? There is a playbook that tells him how. It is a playbook that the Republicans have used for a number of cycles now: Promise low taxes, promise to better defend the country against its enemies, and then attack, attack, attack.
Willie Horton. Sighs and lies. Swift boat. Attack. Just do it.
But McCain is hesitating. “If you want a fight, we will fight,” McCain told that crowd in Minnesota. “But we will be respectful.”
The crowd booed again.
“I don’t mean to reduce your ferocity,” McCain said. “I just mean to say you have to be respectful.”
Is that possible? There are those whispering in McCain’s ear that if he gets into the gutter, he can get into the White House. Ads are not enough, they tell him. He must launch the attacks personally and without reservation.
But honor is still an important word to John McCain. He would like to win the presidency and retain his honor.
Some tell him he cannot do both. At this point, however, he is trying.
Alaska planning war with U.S.?
Is Alaska the 49th state, or a rogue state? Sarah Palin’s pals seem to be planning to secede or attack. We can’t tell, but the music makes that old Santa Claus guy appear more chilling than the bailout. Don’t forget, Palin commands an Army, according to her. One quick march through Canada, and they can seize Seattle.
Ever since we “won” in Iraq, the Axis of Evil has been short one member. Perhaps it’s time to add Alaska.
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That’s why Palin is so hot on the oil and gas – it’s for Alaska – the independent county!! Drill Baby Drill…. She really doesn’t care about those polar bears.
Mudflats: I’ve been waiting for this one. One of the witnesses called by Stephen Branchflower (independent investigator of the legitimate Troopergate investigation) put herself in a tricky spot.
Murlene Wilkes, owner of Harbor Adjusting Services, and holder of a $1.2 million/yr. contract with the State of Alaska to handle workers compensation claims, apparently told a big fat fib. When Branchflower asked her if the governor’s office had ever asked her to deny a workers compensation claim for Palin’s ex-brother-in-law Trooper Mike Wooten (the trooper in “Troopergate”), she said no. Never. Really.
Mike Wooten, of course, is involved in a bitter custody dispute with Palin’s sister Molly. The Palins do not like him. Some say they have made a vengeful and personal sport out of ruining his career.
Problem is, that there are actually honest people in the world….and one of them works for Murlene Wilkes at Harbor Investments. This unnamed worker made a little phone call to the tip line that Branchflower set up at the beginning of the investigation. According to the tipster, yes indeed, the governor’s office DID put pressure to deny the claim.
Hard evidence contradicting sworn testimony has a certain effect on people. Murlene Wilkes, faced with this situation, decided to change her testimony according to a report in The Public Record. Now, with the little extra incentive of avoiding perjury charges, she has admitted that she was asked to deny the claim – at the direct request of Sarah and Todd Palin.
*chin hitting desk* (a moment of stunned silence)
Although Wooten did receive worker’s compensation benefits for about three months, his claim was suddenly denied and he was forced to hire a lawyer and appeal the issue, which dragged on for more than six months. It’s unknown if Wilkes played any role in denying Wooten worker’s compensation benefits.
According to John Cyr, the executive director of the Public Safety Employees Association, the union that represents Wooten and other state troopers, Wooten was approved for workers compensation benefits in January 2007. He filed for benefits due to a back injury he suffered when he pulled a dead body from a wrecked automobile and slipped on icy pavement.
The same month Wooten started receiving workers compensation benefits, Todd Palin began following Wooten around “snapping pictures of him,” Cyr said.
“Frank Bailey was getting people to say that [Wooten] was lying on his worker’s comp form,” Cyr said. “The governor’s family was following Mike around everywhere. They forwarded that information to the worker’s comp division.”
All this information about Todd stalking Wooten came out when Troopergate first broke, well before Palin’s nomination. But, the press here didn’t follow up much. They preferred to focus on the “Is Wooten a Bad Cop?” angle of the story. That was a lot more exciting…you know…tasers, infidelity, drunk driving, illegal moose hunting…
Troopergate, much to the dismay of the Palins, refuses to go away, and only gets worse, the longer it goes on. Worker’s compensation claims may not be ’sexy’, but some say this may end up being the final nail in the coffin of Palin’s political career.
Branchflower’s report is due to be released on October 10th. Let the countdown to truth begin.