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Archive for the ‘Elections 2008’ Category

Sen. Barack Obama’s Acceptance Speech in Chicago, Ill.
CQ Transcripts Wire
Wednesday, November 5, 2008; 12:02 AM

If there is anyone out there who still doubts that America is a place where all things are possible; who still wonders if the dream of our founders is alive in our time; who still questions the power of our democracy, tonight is your answer.

It’s the answer told by lines that stretched around schools and churches in numbers this nation has never seen; by people who waited three hours and four hours, many for the very first time in their lives, because they believed that this time must be different; that their voice could be that difference.

It’s the answer spoken by young and old, rich and poor, Democrat and Republican, black, white, Latino, Asian, Native American, gay, straight, disabled and not disabled : Americans who sent a message to the world that we have never been a collection of Red States and Blue States: we are, and always will be, the United States of America.

It’s the answer that led those who have been told for so long by so many to be cynical, and fearful, and doubtful of what we can achieve to put their hands on the arc of history and bend it once more toward the hope of a better day.

It’s been a long time coming, but tonight, because of what we did on this day, in this election, at this defining moment, change has come to America.

I just received a very gracious call from Senator McCain. He fought long and hard in this campaign, and he’s fought even longer and harder for the country he loves. He has endured sacrifices for America that most of us cannot begin to imagine, and we are better off for the service rendered by this brave and selfless leader. I congratulate him and Governor Palin for all they have achieved, and I look forward to working with them to renew this nation’s promise in the months ahead.

I want to thank my partner in this journey, a man who campaigned from his heart and spoke for the men and women he grew up with on the streets of Scranton and rode with on that train home to Delaware, the Vice President-elect of the United States, Joe Biden.

I would not be standing here tonight without the unyielding support of my best friend for the last sixteen years, the rock of our family and the love of my life, our nation’s next First Lady, Michelle Obama. Sasha and Malia, I love you both so much, and you have earned the new puppy that’s coming with us to the White House. And while she’s no longer with us, I know my grandmother is watching, along with the family that made me who I am. I miss them tonight, and know that my debt to them is beyond measure.

To my campaign manager David Plouffe, my chief strategist David Axelrod, and the best campaign team ever assembled in the history of politics : you made this happen, and I am forever grateful for what you’ve sacrificed to get it done.

But above all, I will never forget who this victory truly belongs to: it belongs to you.

I was never the likeliest candidate for this office. We didn’t start with much money or many endorsements. Our campaign was not hatched in the halls of Washington : it began in the backyards of Des Moines and the living rooms of Concord and the front porches of Charleston.

It was built by working men and women who dug into what little savings they had to give five dollars and ten dollars and twenty dollars to this cause. It grew strength from the young people who rejected the myth of their generation’s apathy; who left their homes and their families for jobs that offered little pay and less sleep; from the not-so-young people who braved the bitter cold and scorching heat to knock on the doors of perfect strangers; from the millions of Americans who volunteered, and organized, and proved that more than two centuries later, a government of the people, by the people and for the people has not perished from this Earth. This is your victory.

I know you didn’t do this just to win an election and I know you didn’t do it for me. You did it because you understand the enormity of the task that lies ahead. For even as we celebrate tonight, we know the challenges that tomorrow will bring are the greatest of our lifetime : two wars, a planet in peril, the worst financial crisis in a century. Even as we stand here tonight, we know there are brave Americans waking up in the deserts of Iraq and the mountains of Afghanistan to risk their lives for us. There are mothers and fathers who will lie awake after their children fall asleep and wonder how they’ll make the mortgage, or pay their doctor’s bills, or save enough for college. There is new energy to harness and new jobs to be created; new schools to build and threats to meet and alliances to repair.

The road ahead will be long. Our climb will be steep. We may not get there in one year or even one term, but America : I have never been more hopeful than I am tonight that we will get there. I promise you : we as a people will get there.

There will be setbacks and false starts. There are many who won’t agree with every decision or policy I make as President, and we know that government can’t solve every problem. But I will always be honest with you about the challenges we face. I will listen to you, especially when we disagree. And above all, I will ask you join in the work of remaking this nation the only way it’s been done in America for two-hundred and twenty-one years : block by block, brick by brick, calloused hand by calloused hand.

What began twenty-one months ago in the depths of winter must not end on this autumn night. This victory alone is not the change we seek : it is only the chance for us to make that change. And that cannot happen if we go back to the way things were. It cannot happen without you.

So let us summon a new spirit of patriotism; of service and responsibility where each of us resolves to pitch in and work harder and look after not only ourselves, but each other. Let us remember that if this financial crisis taught us anything, it’s that we cannot have a thriving Wall Street while Main Street suffers : in this country, we rise or fall as one nation; as one people.

Let us resist the temptation to fall back on the same partisanship and pettiness and immaturity that has poisoned our politics for so long. Let us remember that it was a man from this state who first carried the banner of the Republican Party to the White House : a party founded on the values of self-reliance, individual liberty, and national unity. Those are values we all share, and while the Democratic Party has won a great victory tonight, we do so with a measure of humility and determination to heal the divides that have held back our progress. As Lincoln said to a nation far more divided than ours, “We are not enemies, but friends:though passion may have strained it must not break our bonds of affection.” And to those Americans whose support I have yet to earn : I may not have won your vote, but I hear your voices, I need your help, and I will be your President too.

And to all those watching tonight from beyond our shores, from parliaments and palaces to those who are huddled around radios in the forgotten corners of our world : our stories are singular, but our destiny is shared, and a new dawn of American leadership is at hand. To those who would tear this world down : we will defeat you. To those who seek peace and security : we support you. And to all those who have wondered if America’s beacon still burns as bright : tonight we proved once more that the true strength of our nation comes not from our the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals: democracy, liberty, opportunity, and unyielding hope.

For that is the true genius of America : that America can change. Our union can be perfected. And what we have already achieved gives us hope for what we can and must achieve tomorrow.

This election had many firsts and many stories that will be told for generations. But one that’s on my mind tonight is about a woman who cast her ballot in Atlanta. She’s a lot like the millions of others who stood in line to make their voice heard in this election except for one thing : Ann Nixon Cooper is 106 years old.

She was born just a generation past slavery; a time when there were no cars on the road or planes in the sky; when someone like her couldn’t vote for two reasons : because she was a woman and because of the color of her skin.

And tonight, I think about all that she’s seen throughout her century in America : the heartache and the hope; the struggle and the progress; the times we were told that we can’t, and the people who pressed on with that American creed: Yes we can.

At a time when women’s voices were silenced and their hopes dismissed, she lived to see them stand up and speak out and reach for the ballot. Yes we can.

When there was despair in the dust bowl and depression across the land, she saw a nation conquer fear itself with a New Deal, new jobs and a new sense of common purpose. Yes we can.

When the bombs fell on our harbor and tyranny threatened the world, she was there to witness a generation rise to greatness and a democracy was saved. Yes we can.

She was there for the buses in Montgomery, the hoses in Birmingham, a bridge in Selma, and a preacher from Atlanta who told a people that “We Shall Overcome.” Yes we can.

A man touched down on the moon, a wall came down in Berlin, a world was connected by our own science and imagination. And this year, in this election, she touched her finger to a screen, and cast her vote, because after 106 years in America, through the best of times and the darkest of hours, she knows how America can change. Yes we can.

America, we have come so far. We have seen so much. But there is so much more to do. So tonight, let us ask ourselves : if our children should live to see the next century; if my daughters should be so lucky to live as long as Ann Nixon Cooper, what change will they see? What progress will we have made?

This is our chance to answer that call. This is our moment. This is our time : to put our people back to work and open doors of opportunity for our kids; to restore prosperity and promote the cause of peace; to reclaim the American Dream and reaffirm that fundamental truth : that out of many, we are one; that while we breathe, we hope, and where we are met with cynicism, and doubt, and those who tell us that we can’t, we will respond with that timeless creed that sums up the spirit of a people:

Yes We Can. Thank you, God bless you, and may God Bless the United States of America.

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Obama becomes first black president in landslide
By DAVID ESPO – 19 minutes ago

WASHINGTON (AP) — Barack Obama swept to victory as the nation’s first black president Tuesday night in an electoral college landslide that overcame racial barriers as old as America itself.

The son of a black father from Kenya and a white mother from Kansas, the Democratic senator from Illinois sealed his historic triumph by defeating Republican Sen. John McCain in a string of wins in hard-fought battleground states — Ohio, Florida, Virginia and Iowa.

A huge crowd in Grant Park in Obama’s home town of Chicago erupted in jubilation at the news of his victory. Some wept.

McCain called his former rival to concede defeat — and the end of his own 10-year quest for the White House. “The American people have spoken, and spoken clearly,” McCain told disappointed supporters in Arizona.

Obama and his running mate, Sen. Joseph Biden of Delaware, will take their oaths of office as president and vice president on Jan. 20, 2009.

As the 44th president, Obama will move into the Oval Office as leader of a country that is almost certainly in recession, and fighting two long wars, one in Iraq, the other in Afghanistan.

The popular vote was close, but not the count in the Electoral College, where it mattered most.

There, Obama’s audacious decision to contest McCain in states that hadn’t gone Democratic in years paid rich dividends.

Obama has said his first order of presidential business will be to tackle the economy. He has also pledged to withdraw most U.S. combat troops from Iraq within 16 months.

Fellow Democrats rode his coattails to larger majorities in both houses of Congress. They defeated incumbent Republicans and won open seats by turn.

The 47-year-old Illinois senator was little known just four years ago. A widely praised speech at the Democratic National Convention, delivered when he was merely a candidate for the Senate, changed that.

Overnight he became a sought-after surrogate campaigner, and he had scarcely settled into his Senate seat when he began preparing for his run for the White House.

A survey of voters leaving polling places on Tuesday showed the economy was by far the top Election Day issue. Six in 10 voters said so, and none of the other top issues — energy, Iraq, terrorism and health care — was picked by more than one in 10.

“May God bless whoever wins tonight,” President Bush told dinner guests at the White House, where his tenure runs out on Jan. 20.

The Democratic leaders of Congress celebrated in Washington.

“It is not a mandate for a party or ideology but a mandate for change,” said Senate Majority leader Harry Reid of Nevada.

Said Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California: “Tonight the American people have called for a new direction. They have called for change in America.”

Shortly after 11 p.m. in the East, The Associated Press count showed Obama with 338 electoral votes, well over the 270 needed for victory. McCain had 127 after winning states that comprised the normal Republican base.

The nationwide popular vote was remarkably close. Totals from 58 percent of the nation’s precincts showed Obama with 51 percent and McCain with 47.9.

Interviews with voters suggested that almost six in 10 women were backing Obama nationwide, while men leaned his way by a narrow margin. Just over half of whites supported McCain, giving him a slim advantage in a group that Bush carried overwhelmingly in 2004.

The results of the AP survey were based on a preliminary partial sample of nearly 10,000 voters in Election Day polls and in telephone interviews over the past week for early voters.

Democrats also acclaimed Senate successes by former Gov. Mark Warner in Virginia, Rep. Tom Udall in New Mexico and Rep. Mark Udall in Colorado. All won seats left open by Republican retirements.

In New Hampshire, former Gov. Jeanne Shaheen defeated Republican Sen. John Sununu in a rematch of their 2002 race, and Sen. Elizabeth Dole fell to Democrat Kay Hagan in North Carolina.

Democrats also looked for gains in the House. They defeated Republican incumbents Rep. Tom Feeney and Ric Keller in Florida, 22-year veteran Chris Shays in Connecticut and Rep. Robin Hayes in North Carolina.

At least two Democrats lost their seats. Rep. Kevin Mahoney fell after admitting to two extramarital affairs while serving his first term in Florida. In Louisiana, Democratic Rep. Don Cazayoux lost the seat he had won in a special election six months ago.

The resurgent Democrats also elected a governor in one of the nation’s traditional bellwether states when Missouri Attorney General Jay Nixon won his race.

The White House was the main prize of the night on which 35 Senate seats and all 435 House seats were at stake. A dozen states elected governors, and ballots across the country were dotted with issues ranging from taxes to gay rights.

An estimated 187 million voters were registered, and in an indication of interest in the battle for the White House, 40 million or so had already voted as Election Day dawned.

Obama sought election as one of the youngest presidents, and one of the least experienced in national political affairs.

That wasn’t what set the Illinois senator apart, though — neither from his rivals nor from the other men who had served as president since the nation’s founding more than two centuries ago. A black man, he confronted a previously unbreakable barrier as he campaigned on twin themes of change and hope in uncertain times.

McCain, a prisoner of war during Vietnam, a generation older than his rival at 72, was making his second try for the White House, following his defeat in the battle for the GOP nomination in 2000.

A conservative, he stressed his maverick’s streak. And although a Republican, he did what he could to separate himself from an unpopular president.

For the most part, the two presidential candidates and their running mates, Biden and Republican Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska, spent weeks campaigning in states that went for Bush four years ago.

McCain and Obama each won contested nominations — the Democrat outdistancing former first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton — and promptly set out to claim the mantle of change.

“I am not George W. Bush,” McCain said in one debate.

Obama retorted that he might as well be, telling audiences in state after state that the Republican had voted with the president 90 percent of the time across eight years of the Bush administration.

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Palin faces new ethics complaint over kids’ travel
By RACHEL D’ORO – 18 hours ago

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — A new ethics complaint has been filed against Sarah Palin, accusing the Alaska governor of abusing her power by charging the state when her children traveled with her.

The complaint alleges that the Republican vice presidential nominee used her official position as governor for personal gain, violating a statute of the Alaska Executive Branch Ethics Act. It follows a report by The Associated Press last week that Palin charged the state more than $21,000 for her three daughters’ commercial flights, including events where they weren’t invited, and later ordered their expense forms amended to specify official state business.

In some cases, Palin also has charged the state for hotel rooms for the girls.

The complaint released Wednesday says Palin charged the travel costs for events her children were not invited to and where they served in no legitimate state purpose or business.

“Governor Palin intentionally secured unwarranted benefits for family members, improperly used state property to benefit her personal and financial interests, and illegally altered documents that were the subject of a Public Records request,” the complaint states.

Earlier this month, a legislative report found Palin violated state ethics laws when she fired her public safety commissioner. The state’s Personnel Board also has hired an independent counsel for a similar investigation.

Under Alaska law, it is up to the Personnel Board to decide whether Palin violated state law. The attorney general’s office didn’t return messages seeking comment Wednesday, but has previously said the possible penalties in the first Personnel Board investigation could carry a possible fine of up to $5,000.

The latest complaint was filed by Frank Gwartney, an Anchorage Democrat who supports Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama. Gwartney, 60, said he is fed up with “all the corruption” among Alaska’s elected officials, including Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens, who was convicted this week on federal corruption charges.

“Sarah ran on this very self righteous campaign on ethics and anti-corruption,” Gwartney told the AP. “She is no different from the others.”

Palin’s attorney, Thomas Van Flein, said he was not aware of the complaint and could not comment.

Palin spokeswoman Sharon Leighow said she can’t comment specifically on the complaint because it is confidential. But she said generally the first family is expected to participate in community activities across Alaska and represents the state on travels.

“We receive hundreds of invitations for the governor each month, and a majority of them request the first family participate,” Leighow said. “The Palin children can only participate in a fraction of the events.”

Responding to the travel issue, Palin told Fox News last week that every Alaska governor has traveled with family when it’s a first family function. “And it’s always been charged to the state,” she said. “That’s part of the job.”

The state already is reviewing nearly $17,000 in per diem payments to Palin for 312 nights she slept at her home in Wasilla, about an hour’s drive from her satellite office in Anchorage.

In the complaint, Gwartney asks that the matter be investigated by the Alaska Personnel Board — a three-member panel is appointed by the governor.

The ethics travel grievance was first reported by CBS News.

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AP INVESTIGATION: Palin pipeline terms curbed bids
By JUSTIN PRITCHARD and GARANCE BURKE, Associated Press Writers Justin Pritchard And Garance Burke, Associated Press Writers

ANCHORAGE, Alaska – Gov. Sarah Palin’s signature accomplishment — a contract to build a 1,715-mile pipeline to bring natural gas from Alaska to the Lower 48 — emerged from a flawed bidding process that narrowed the field to a company with ties to her administration, an Associated Press investigation shows.

Beginning at the Republican National Convention in August, the McCain-Palin ticket has touted the pipeline as an example of how it would help America achieve energy independence.

“We’re building a nearly $40 billion natural gas pipeline, which is North America’s largest and most expensive infrastructure project ever, to flow those sources of energy into hungry markets,” Palin said during the Oct. 2 vice presidential debate.

Despite Palin’s boast of a smart and fair bidding process, the AP found that her team crafted terms that favored only a few independent pipeline companies and ultimately benefited the winner, TransCanada Corp.

And contrary to the ballyhoo, there’s no guarantee the pipeline will ever be built; at a minimum, any project is years away, as TransCanada must first overcome major financial and regulatory hurdles.

In interviews and a review of records, the AP found:

_Instead of creating a process that would attract many potential builders, Palin slanted the terms away from an important group — the global energy giants that own the rights to the gas.

_Despite promises and legal guidance not to talk directly with potential bidders, Palin had meetings or phone calls with nearly every major candidate, including TransCanada.

_The leader of Palin’s pipeline team had been a partner at a lobbying firm where she worked on behalf of a TransCanada subsidiary. Also, that woman’s former business partner at the lobbying firm was TransCanada’s lead private lobbyist on the pipeline deal, interacting with legislators in the weeks before the vote to grant TransCanada the contract. Plus, a former TransCanada executive served as an outside consultant to Palin’s pipeline team.

_Under a different set of rules four years earlier, TransCanada had offered to build the pipeline without a state subsidy; under Palin, the company could receive a maximum $500 million.

“Governor Palin held firmly to her fundamental belief that Alaska could best serve Alaskans and the nation’s interests by pursuing a competitive approach to building a natural gas pipeline,” said McCain-Palin spokesman Taylor Griffin. “There was an open and transparent process that subjected the decision to extensive public scrutiny and due diligence.”

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ONLY ONE VIABLE BIDDER

There were never more than a few players that could execute such a complex undertaking — at least a million tons of steel stretching across some of Earth’s most hostile and remote terrain.

TransCanada estimates it will cost $26 billion; Palin’s consultants estimate nearly $40 billion.

The pipeline would run from Alaska’s North Slope to Alberta in Canada; secondary supply lines would take the gas to various points in the United States and Canada. The pipeline would carry 4.5 billion cubic feet of natural gas daily, about 8 percent of the present U.S. market.

Building such a pipeline had been a dream for decades. The rising cost and demand for energy injected new urgency into the proposal.

So too did the depletion of Alaska’s long-reliable reserves of oil, which are trapped in the same Arctic Circle reservoirs as clean-burning natural gas. Not only does that oil provide jobs, it pays for an annual dividend check to nearly every Alaska resident. This year’s payment was $2,069, 25 percent higher than 2007 — plus a $1,200 bonus rebate to help offset higher energy costs.

Palin was elected as governor two years ago in part because of her populist appeal. Promising “New Energy for Alaska,” she vowed to take on Exxon Mobil Corp., ConocoPhillips and BP, the multinational energy companies that long dominated the state’s biggest industry.

Oil interests were particularly unpopular at that moment: Federal agents had recently raided the offices of six lawmakers in a Justice Department investigation into whether an Alaska oil services company paid bribes in exchange for promoting a new taxing formula that would ultimately further the multinationals’ pipeline plans.

Palin ousted fellow Republican Gov. Frank Murkowski, who pushed a pipeline deal he negotiated in secret with the “Big Three” energy companies. That deal went nowhere.

With Alaskans eager for progress and sour on Big Oil, Palin tackled the pipeline issue with gusto, meeting with representatives from all sides and assembling her own team of experts to draw up terms.

Palin invited bidders to submit applications and offered the multimillion-dollar subsidy. Members of Palin’s team say that without the incentive, it might not have received any bids for the risky undertaking.

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TIES THAT BIND

Palin’s team was led by Marty Rutherford, a widely respected energy specialist who entered the upper levels of state government nearly 20 years ago. Rutherford solidified her status when, in 2005, she joined an exodus of Department of Natural Resources staff who felt Murkowski was selling out to the oil giants.

What the Palin administration didn’t tell legislators — and neglected to mention in its announcement of Rutherford’s appointment — was that in 2003, Rutherford left public service and worked for 10 months at the Anchorage-based Jade North lobbying firm. There she did $40,200 worth of work for Foothills Pipe Lines Alaska, Inc., a subsidiary of TransCanada.

Foothills Pipe Lines Alaska Inc. paid Rutherford for expertise on topics including state legislation and funding related to gas commercialization, according to her 2003 lobbyist registration statement.

Palin has said she wasn’t bothered by that past work because it had occurred several years before. But Rutherford wouldn’t have passed her new boss’ own standards: Under ethics reforms the governor pushed through, Rutherford would have had to wait a year to jump from government service to a lobbying firm.

Rutherford also has downplayed her work for Foothills.

“I did a couple of projects for them, small projects,” she told a state Senate committee examining the TransCanada bid earlier this year. While a partner, Rutherford said, she “realized that my heart was not in the private sector, it was in the public sector, and I sold out for the same amount of money I bought in for.”

At one point, Palin’s pipeline team debated Rutherford’s role, but concluded there was no problem.

“We were looking at it in terms of is this an actual conflict or is there the appearance of impropriety of Marty’s participation,” said Pat Galvin, the commissioner of the Revenue Department and another top team member. “It was determined that there was none, and so we moved forward.”

Patricia Bielawski, Rutherford’s former partner at Jade North, spent last summer in Juneau, the state capital, serving as TransCanada’s lead private lobbyist on the pipeline deal. While the Legislature debated — and ultimately approved — the TransCanada deal, Bielawski met with lawmakers and sat in on the public proceedings, several legislators said.

Bielawski told AP earlier this month that Rutherford’s employment at her firm was irrelevant. She said Rutherford never directly lobbied the Legislature for Foothills, and that Rutherford broke no rules based on 2003 state ethics guidelines.

“There’s no statutory or regulatory prohibition that extends to things that many years ago,” Bielawski said. “So there’s no issue.”

But others say it’s a legitimate question.

“I’m not saying someone’s getting paid off for a sweetheart contract, but it’s very hard to ignore that this is your former partner and your former client standing there before you,” said Republican Sen. Lyda Green, a Palin critic who in August was among the handful of lawmakers who voted against awarding TransCanada the license. “Every time it was mentioned to the governor or to the commission, it was like, ‘How could you question such a wonderful person?'”

Tony Palmer, the TransCanada vice president who leads the company’s Alaska gas pipeline effort, rejects the suggestion that his company benefited.

“We have gained clearly no advantage from anything that Ms. Rutherford did for Foothills some five years ago on a very much unrelated topic,” he said.

Rutherford did not respond to interview requests made directly to her and through the governor’s office. But Griffin, the spokesman for the McCain-Palin campaign, said Rutherford “had no decision-making role or authority,” and contended that such matters were handled by others on the Palin pipeline team.

TransCanada also had a connection to the team hired by the Palin administration to analyze the bid. Patrick Anderson, a former TransCanada executive, served as an outside consultant and ultimately helped the state conclude that TransCanada’s technical solution for shipping gas through freezing temperatures would work.

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NARROW SET OF RULES

In January 2007, Palin spoke the first of at least two times to Vice President Dick Cheney, the Bush administration’s point person on energy issues, according to calendars obtained by the AP through a public records request. Cheney’s staff pressed the Palin administration to draw in the energy companies, said current and former state officials involved in those discussions.

As the governor’s approach unfolded in the spring of 2007, there were signs it was skewed in a different direction.

Palin said she saw problems if the firms that own the gas also owned the pipeline. They could manipulate the market or charge prohibitive fees to smaller exploration firms, discouraging competition.

Several important requirements in the legislation were unpalatable to the big oil companies. In the talks under Murkowski, the firms asked that the rates for the gas production tax and royalties be fixed for 45 years; Palin refused to consider setting rates for that long.

Under the Palin process, the pipeline firms had an advantage because they simply pass along taxes paid by oil and gas producers.

Oil company officials warned lawmakers they wouldn’t participate under those terms. Still, in a near unanimous vote, the Legislature passed the Alaska Gasline Inducement Act in May 2007, generally as written by Palin’s pipeline team.

Once the state issued its request for proposals on July 2, 2007, the level of communication between the government and potential bidders was supposed to decrease drastically, so that no one would be accused of gaining unfair advantage. State lawyers advised public officials to keep their distance, and bidders were told to submit questions on a Web site where answers could be seen by all.

Several of the state’s gas line team members interviewed by AP said they had no contact with possible bidders. But Palin had conversations with executives at most of the major potential bidders during that period, according to her calendars.

While the calendars don’t detail what was discussed, the documents indicate that the pipeline was the subject of the discussions, or that the conversations occurred immediately after a briefing with Palin’s pipeline team.

When she was in Michigan for a National Governors Association summit in late July 2007, Palin and her team met executives from Williams Co., a pipeline builder that ended up not bidding.

“The purpose of the meeting was to more fully understand the details of the project, which we were still evaluating at the time,” company spokeswoman Julie Gentz said in a statement.

TransCanada’s Palmer described communication with state officials as nonexistent.

According to the governor’s official schedule, however, Palin called TransCanada President and CEO Hal Kvisle on Aug. 8, 2007. Asked about that call, Palmer said it was to clarify the bidding process.

Griffin said that in keeping with legal guidance, Palin never spoke in any of the meetings about the competitive bidding process.

By the Nov. 30 submission deadline, there were five applications. But the state disqualified four for failing to satisfy the bill’s requirements.

That left TransCanada.

The Canadian giant had been pursuing an Alaska pipeline since at least 2004, when the company negotiated a deal with Rutherford that the state ended up shelving. While the details remain confidential, six people familiar with the terms told the AP that TransCanada was willing to do the work then without the large state subsidy.

In testimony this July before the state Senate, Rutherford herself confirmed such a willingness, but described the 2004 deal as presenting a different set of trade-offs. A state lawyer warned her not to say more, lest she violate a confidentiality agreement.

Others who reviewed the deal think much of the $500 million will be wasted money.

“Most definitely TransCanada got a sweetheart deal this time,” said Republican Sen. Bert Stedman, who voted against the TransCanada license. “Where else could you get a $500 million reimbursement when you don’t even have the financing to build the pipeline?”

___

Associated Press writer Brett J. Blackledge contributed to this report.

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Palin Drops $32,800 on Hair and Makeup Over Two Weeks
October 24, 2008 5:48 PM

ABC News’ Jennifer Parker reports: Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin’s traveling makeup artist was the highest paid individual in John McCain’s campaign over the first two weeks of October.

Amy Strozzi was paid $22,800 for her work as Palin’s makeup artist for the first half of October, according to documents filed Thursday by the McCain campaign with the Federal Election Commission.

Palin’s traveling hair stylist Angela Lew, the fourth highest paid individual during that time, was paid $10,000 over two weeks in October for what the campaign called “communications consulting.” 

The second and third highest paid individuals in the first two weeks of October were Randy Scheunemann, McCain’s chief foreign policy adviser at $12,500, and Nicolle Wallace, McCain’s senior communications staffer at $12,000.

Strozzi and Lew have traveled full-time with the campaign since early September. They do hair and makeup for Palin for all her events and media interviews.

Palin has come under scrutiny this week when it was disclosed the Republican National Committee spent $150,000 on her wardrobe and makeup at high-end department stores like Neiman Marcus and Saks Fifth Avenue.

Asked about the purchases in an interview with the Chicago Tribune, Palin said the family shops frugally.

“That is not who we are,” Palin argued. “That whole thing is just, bad!” she said. “Oh, if people only knew how frugal we are.”

Palin argued the clothes were not worth $150,000 and were bought for the Republican National Convention. She said the pricey clothes she has worn on the campaign trail this fall will be given back to the RNC, sent to charity, or auctioned off.

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Abortion clinic bombers not terrorists, Palin says
WASHINGTON (AFP) — Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin, who has accused Democratic presidential contender Barack Obama of “palling around with terrorists,” has refused to call people who bomb abortion clinics by the same name.

When asked Thursday night by NBC television presenter Brian Williams whether an abortion clinic bomber was a terrorist, Palin heaved a sigh and, at first, circumvented the question.

“There’s no question that Bill Ayers by his own admittance was one who sought to destroy our US Capitol and our Pentagon. That is a domestic terrorist,” Palin said, referring to a 1960s leftist who founded a radical violent gang dubbed the “Weathermen” — and who years later supported Obama’s first run for public office in the state of Illinois.

“Now, others who would want to engage in harming innocent Americans or facilities that it would be unacceptable to… I don’t know if you’re gonna use the word ‘terrorist’ there,” the ardently pro-life running mate of John McCain said.

Early this month, after the New York Times ran an article highlighting the ties between Obama and Ayers, Palin told a campaign rally in Colorado that Obama “sees America it seems as being so imperfect that he’s palling around with terrorists who would target their own country.”

Attacks on doctors who practice abortion and on family planning clinics in the United States in the 1980s and 1990s left several people dead and scores wounded.

Eric Rudolph, the extreme right winger who planted a bomb at the Atlanta Olympics in 1996, which killed one person, was sentenced three years ago to two life terms in jail for an abortion clinic bombing in Alabama in which a policeman was killed.

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The world picks Obama for president – 4 to 1
SIRI AGRELL

October 22, 2008

Americans may still be undecided, but the rest of the world has made up its mind about who should be elected president of the United States.

A Gallup poll of 70 countries conducted from May through September has found widespread international support for Democratic candidate Barack Obama.

Around the world, respondents favoured Mr. Obama 4 to 1 over Republican John McCain.

In Canada, 67 per cent chose Mr. Obama and 22 per cent Mr. McCain. And 75 per cent of Canadian respondents said the presidential election would make a difference for their own country.

The Democratic nominee also enjoyed levels of support higher than 60 per cent in Australia, Germany, England and Japan, where the U.S. election was viewed as having a global impact.

Around the world, only Georgia, Cambodia, Laos and the Philippines backed the Republican candidate.

Europeans were the most likely to state a preference in the election and to believe the winner would have an impact on their own countries.

Mr. Obama also received an overseas endorsement yesterday from the Conservative mayor of London, Boris Johnson.

“He visibly incarnates change and hope, at a time when America desperately needs both,” Mr. Johnson wrote in the Daily Telegraph.

Within the United States, change seemed to be the theme of this week’s polls.

A Pew Research Center poll released yesterday found that the Democrat is enjoying his widest margin yet over Mr. McCain among registered voters, at 52 per cent to 38 per cent.

The Rasmussen Report, however, released a daily tracking poll that had Mr. Obama ahead by just four points, leading Mr. McCain 50 per cent to 46 per cent, and Gallup had Mr. Obama ahead 52 per cent to 41 per cent.

But attention is increasingly settling on key battleground states, where the two candidates are competing for the electoral votes they need to win the White House on Nov. 4.

Polls yesterday showed the Democrats leading in all of the battleground states won by John Kerry in 2004 and several won by Republican President George W. Bush.

A CNN poll yesterday had Mr. Obama leading in Colorado by a margin of 51 to 47 per cent. In Florida, he was ahead 49 to 45, within the poll’s margin of error. The same poll found Mr. McCain leading in Indiana 51 per cent to 46 per cent, and in Georgia 53 per cent to 45 per cent.

It was reported this week that the McCain campaign had effectively given up on Colorado, Iowa and New Mexico, states the party had once believed would lead them to victory.

But Jill Hazelbaker, Mr. McCain’s national communications director, released a statement yesterday denying the report.

“We see the race tightening both internally and in public polling,” she said. “We are within striking distance in the key battleground states we need to win.”

Who would you personally rather see elected president of the United States?

  Obama McCain
Britain 60% 15%
Canada 67% 27%
Chile 43% 9%
France 64% 4%
Georgia 15% 23%
Germany 62% 10%
Japan 66% 15%
Kenya 89% 3%
Laos 24% 25%
Mexico 27% 9%
Philippines 20% 28%
Rwanda 57% 12%

Note: Totals may not add up to 100% due to rounding.

TONIA COWAN/THE GLOBE AND MAIL // SOURCE: GALLUP

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