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11-10-2008-2-03-05-am

(CNN) — As Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin heads to Florida to attend the Republican Governors Association annual conference in Miami, she says she’d consider a run for the White House in 2012 or beyond.

Less than one week after the victory by Barack Obama and Joe Biden over the GOP ticket in the presidential election, John McCain’s running mate is speaking out about her political future in national politics.

“Don’t let me miss the open door. Show me where the open door is and even if it’s cracked up a little bit, maybe I’ll just plow right on through that and maybe prematurely plow through it, but don’t let me miss an open door. And if there is an open door in ’12 or four years later, and if it is something that is going to be good for my family, for my state, for my nation, an opportunity for me, then I’ll plow through that door,” Palin said in an interview with Fox News Monday.

> Palin also sits down Wednesday for a one on one interview with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer. Tune into the Situation Room, starting at 4 pm ET Wednesday to see Wolf’s candid conversation with Palin.

Source: CNN

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His focused effort to target a group that had heavily favored Republicans paid off, an exit poll shows.

As he vaulted into national acclaim with his 2004 Democratic convention speech, Barack Obama directly took on the assumption that his party should cede religious voters to the Republicans.

“We worship an awesome God in the blue states,” he said, pointedly adopting words from a song familiar to churchgoers, particularly younger ones.

The four-year effort by Obama, who is Christian, to narrow the gap between Democratic and Republican support among religious voters paid off last week when he won the race for the White House.

Exit polls showed the dramatic effect: Obama won 43% of voters who said they attend church weekly, eight percentage points higher than 2004 Democratic nominee John F. Kerry. Among occasional worshipers, Obama won 57%, 11 percentage points higher than Kerry, according to the National Election Pool exit survey.

When looking at how members of different faiths voted, the movement among Catholics is striking. They sided 52% to 47% with President Bush in 2004. But this year, they went 54% to 45% for Obama. That means Obama had more support among Catholics than did Kerry, himself a Catholic, by seven percentage points.

“Obama did better than Kerry among pretty much every religious group,” said Greg Smith, a research fellow at the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life who analyzed the poll results.

Even among voters who describe themselves as born-again Christians or evangelicals, a group that tends to vote Republican, Obama improved on Kerry’s standing — although he came in a distant second to GOP nominee John McCain. Kerry had won 21% of evangelical voters; Obama won 26%.

The shift by religious voters may have resulted partly from changes in the electorate — voter participation by blacks and Latinos grew, and both groups tend to be regular churchgoers. Yet there is no doubt that secular voters were more supportive of Obama than religious ones, according to the exit poll.

The Obama campaign, however, made sure to court religious voters and took advantage of his connections to influential Christian leaders.

Nearly two years ago, when voters knew little about him, the Illinois senator stood alongside nationally known author and Pastor Rick Warren at Saddleback Church in Lake Forest for a televised AIDS conference. Earlier, Obama had asked Warren to review a chapter of his book “The Audacity of Hope.”

Obama again gained the attention of Christian voters in July when he pledged to expand a controversial White House program to give federal grants to churches and small community groups. The proposal, which would build on efforts by the Bush administration to direct government money to church groups, was announced in Zanesville, Ohio, a hotly contested state that Obama won on election day.

And at the Democratic National Convention in August, which held its first-ever interfaith prayer gathering, the party platform endorsed by Obama — while not backing away from its support for abortion rights — emphatically reached out to women with children who rely on programs meant to ease their struggle.

Obama’s ease in talking about his religion also helped him win over religious voters. During a presidential forum held in August at Saddleback Church, where he and McCain were interviewed separately by church leader Warren, Obama spoke about “walking humbly with our God” and quoted from the Gospel of Matthew. His acceptance speech Tuesday night echoed in parts the church-inspired speeches of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

“He uses the faith language very well,” said Clyde Wilcox, a Georgetown University professor of government who has studied the subject. And that, he said, inspired trust.

“How do you know whether to trust him or not?” Wilcox said. “If you are a deeply religious person, you want to see that he has a grounding. That authenticity is really important. It reassures people.”

Religion, for a time, became a thorn for Obama during the presidential race. He was harshly criticized for his association with the now-retired Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr., whose incendiary sermons about white America caused an uproar and led Obama to part ways with his longtime pastor, and endured a viral e-mail campaign falsely asserting that he is Muslim.

But “there was a broad recognition that he was a sincerely religious man,” Wilcox said of Obama. “And I think that did come through.”

The Obama campaign reached out to evangelicals and other religious communities, aware of the opportunity to peel away some voters.

Douglas W. Kmiec, a Pepperdine law professor, caused a stir last spring when he publicly endorsed Obama. One month later, at a Catholic Mass to which he was invited, Kmiec was denounced from the pulpit and denied communion because of his endorsement.

Kmiec said that although Obama’s support for abortion rights contradicts official Catholic doctrine, his broader approach aligns well with the church’s beliefs on issues such as the economy, healthcare and the environment.

“I was attracted out of my Republican-ness to Sen. Obama’s side largely because I could hear, in the way he was articulating economic issues and social issues, the social gospel of the Catholic Church,” Kmiec said.

From September through election day, Kmiec traveled to key states including Indiana, Ohio and Pennsylvania, meeting with groups of people at churches on Obama’s behalf. The election’s focus on the economy was “providential,” Kmiec said. Without the usual single-issue debate about abortion rights among Christian voters, the Obama campaign had the opportunity to make its case on other fronts.

“It moderated, it seemed to me, the amount of time that was devoted to these divisive conversations,” he said.

The election results returned Catholics to their historical Democratic moorings, which many had fled for the GOP during the Reagan years.

“That is opening a door that had been closed for a while,” Kmiec said. But whether it stays open may be determined by whether Obama’s actions match what he promised — and also by what larger political environment defines the 2012 presidential race.

“At some level, if he’s a good president, that will affect evangelicals and non-evangelicals, Catholics,” said Wilcox of Georgetown University. It is too soon, he said, to know whether Obama’s improvements among religious voters indicate a new alignment for Democrats, or were simply a verdict on the 2008 candidates.

“I would want to see this over time,” Wilcox said.

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img-bs-bottom-sarlin-mccains-mom_145111505480Says McCain’s mom no longer cares about election, and that McCain may die, but at least he’ll be president.

A grueling and bitter campaign has taken its toll on family morale, John McCain’s aunt, Rowena Willis, told The Daily Beast today in an exclusive interview.

According to the 96 year-old Willis, her twin sister, Roberta McCain, the candidate’s mother, has become resigned to her son’s electoral fate.

“She really doesn’t care,” Willis said of her 96-year old twin sister, who has campaigned for her son and recorded TV ads with him. “‘Let these bastards get in,’ she says, ‘I don’t give a damn anymore. If these people want to buy votes and get their people in office, let them suffer for it in the way of high taxes.’”

“I’m hoping he wins, for the country’s sake,” McCain’s aunt said. “I figure it will kill him, but he’s going to die one day anyway, so he might as well do it there.”

“I’m hoping he wins, for the country’s sake,” McCain’s aunt said. “I figure it will kill him, but he’s going to die one day anyway, so he might as well do it there.”

Willis has done her part for her nephew’s campaign, donating the maximum $2,300 to the candidate in June. Today she joined two nieces at 6:30 a.m. to go vote at a precinct on Larchmont Blvd. in Los Angeles, California, where she said turnout was unusually high.

“I waited an hour at least,” she said. “I’ve lived here 65 years and I’ve never seen lines like this.”

She said she had little patience for voters who complained about long lines at early voting stations that were open throughout the week in various states.

“I sat in line more than an hour today and I’m nearly 100. We should have one day of voting and if these people are too weak to vote, too bad,” she said.

In an interview earlier this month with The Daily Beast, Willis told me that McCain was losing. McCain’s mother told supporters at the time to “pray for a miracle,” and Willis said she was still praying for a victory for her beloved nephew, whom she described as “honest” and incorruptible.

“I sat in line more than an hour today and I’m nearly 100. We should have one day of voting and if these people are too weak to vote, too bad,” she said.

“I’m hoping he wins, for the country’s sake. I figure it will kill him, but he’s going to die one day anyway, so he might as well do it there,” she said, “But that man is honest—he has all the money in the world, he could do whatever he wants, even without his wife’s money, which he does not have; they keep it separate. He has a good pension from the Navy and my father was very rich.”

Sarah Palin also won high praise from Willis: “I think she’s marvelous. I don’t care how inexperienced she is or anything else—she’s been through a lot. She did vote against her party and she has cancelled a lot of those pork barrel requests in Alaska.”

As a mother of five, Willis said she was most concerned about how the election would impact the younger generations in her family.

“They will be broke with the Democrats in, with the number of people they will have to pay who have never paid a dollar of income tax in their life,” she said. “Our children will suffer.”

Source: The Daily Beast

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Still more ugliness and hostility on the campaign trail, courtesy of North Carolina’s Fayetville Observer:

    Someone slashed the tires of at least 30 vehicles parked outside the Crown Coliseum on Sunday during a rally for Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama, authorities said.
    Sheriff’s deputies are investigating. The tires were cut while people were inside the Crown Coliseum listening to speeches, said Maj. E. Wright of the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office…

    Sarah Revis, who lives on Wilkes Road, said the slashed tires left several women, including a single mother and a toddler, stranded and upset. At least four tow trucks were sent to move the vehicles from the Crown, Revis said.

    “This is an embarrassment to this city and to me as a citizen,” Revis said. “I’ve seen women out here crying and men cussing. This is a crying shame.”

It would require a pretty extensive effort to slash the tires of more than 30 vehicles.

Source: TPM

Oct. 3 (Bloomberg) — The U.S. lost the most jobs in five years in September and earnings rose less than forecast as the credit crisis deepened the economic slowdown.

Payrolls fell by 159,000, more than anticipated, after a 73,000 decline in August, the Labor Department said today in Washington. The jobless rate, the last one reported before the presidential election, remained at 6.1 percent. Hours worked reached the lowest level since records began in 1964.

The world’s largest economy may be headed for bigger job losses as the worst financial meltdown since the Great Depression causes consumers and companies to retrench. A sinking labor market and rising borrowing costs raise the odds Federal Reserve policy makers will cut interest rates by their Oct. 29 meeting.

“The financial panic is a body blow to business confidence, and companies are now battening down the hatches,” Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Economy.com in West Chester, Pennsylvania, said before the report. “We’re in store for very sizable job losses across many industries. A rate cut by the Fed could come before the next meeting.”

Revisions added 4,000 to payroll figures previously reported for August and July. The Labor Department said it was “unlikely” that Hurricane Ike, which struck the Gulf Coast last month, “had substantial effects” on payrolls figures.

After today, the total decline in payrolls so far this year has reached 760,000. The economy created 1.1 million jobs in 2007. […]

The jobless rate is up 1.4 percentage points from September 2007. Since World War II, the rate has risen only twice during similar periods before presidential elections. In both cases — when Bill Clinton defeated George H. W. Bush in 1992 and when Ronald Reagan beat Jimmy Carter in 1980 — the incumbent party lost the election.

Americans will go to the polls on Nov. 4 and the October jobs report is due Nov. 7.

“Voters are extremely angry, and they want someone to blame,” said Scott Anderson, senior economist at Wells Fargo & Co. in Minneapolis.

Presidential Race

Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama has opened up a lead over Republican rival John McCain in the aftermath of their first debate and amid growing concerns about the economy, according to a Pew Research Center survey taken Sept. 27 to Sept. 29. A mid-September poll from Washington-based Pew had shown the candidates were in a statistical dead heat.

Earlier in September, a Bloomberg/Los Angeles Times poll showed more respondents said Obama would do a better job handling the financial crisis than McCain, and almost half of the voters believed he had better ideas to strengthen the economy than his rival.

Read more..

Source: Bloomberg