Friday, October 3, 2008

Biden releases tax returns, challenges Palin

By Jim Popkin, NBC News Senior Investigative Producer

Well that didn't take long.

Just hours after releasing Sen. Joseph Biden's federal tax returns for the last 10 years, the Obama campaign began pressing Gov. Sarah Palin to follow suit. In an email to reporters titled "Nonpartisan Alaska Elected Official Calls on Gov. Palin to Release Tax Returns," the Obama campaign tried to put Gov. Palin on the defensive.

The email quoted Mat-Su Borough (Alaska) Assembly member Michelle Church as saying: “The important question today I guess would be, because Senator Biden released his tax returns, would be for Governor Palin to release her tax returns -- federal tax returns -- to show whether or not she actually paid federal income tax on those reimbursements for when she was living in her Wasilla home.”
Palin has not yet released her federal tax returns. Reporters have asked her to disclose her returns in part to determine whether she paid taxes on the $16,951 in per diem payments she received for working out of her home in Wasilla.

Biden's Returns:
As for Biden, his returns are, well, humdrum. Biden has boasted on the campaign trail about being one of the poorest U.S. Senators, and his returns show modest wages--compared to some of the well-heeled titans on the Hill.

Biden and his wife, Jill, reported gross income of $215,432 in 1998 and their income stays roughly in the same ballpark for the next decade. His highest grossing year was 2005, when the Bidens reported total income of $321,379. That figure included $81,250 from the Sterling Lord literary agency.

In 2007, the most recent year available, the Bidens reported gross income of $319,853. By contrast, Sen. John Kerry had a maximum net worth of $313 million, according to a review by the Center for Responsive Politics.

Charity case?
One odd note: Biden's charitable giving is not exactly blockbuster. In 1998, for example, he reported just $195 in charitable gifts (on income of more than $215,000.) The next year he gave $120. The most he's given in one year was $995, on income that exceeded $319,000.

Biden's spokesman said the vice presidential contender released his returns to bring back accountability to government: “The last eight years have brought Americans' faith in their government to its lowest point in over thirty years. The only answer is to change the way we do business in Washington. That starts with something as simple as transparency. That's why Senator Biden is releasing his tax returns for the last 10 years.”

Palin vows to be more accessible in coming weeks

ST. LOUIS - Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin, declaring that "my life is certainly an open book," vowed Friday to take more questions from voters and reporters after allowing only a handful of interviews and solo campaign events.

"I look forward to speaking to the media more and more every day and providing whatever access the media would want," Palin said in an interview with Fox News.

Palin said she was disappointed that the McCain campaign decided to stop competing in Michigan, saying she had "fired off an e-mail" Friday morning questioning the move.

"Todd and I, we'd be happy to get to Michigan and walk through those plants of the car manufacturers," Palin said, referring to her husband. "We'd be so happy to get to speak to the people in Michigan who are hurting because the economy is hurting."

Alaska's governor burst onto the national scene just five weeks ago when GOP presidential candidate John McCain plucked her from relative obscurity to be his running mate. After a well-received speech at the party's convention, Palin was effectively barred from speaking to the press except for a few high-profile interviews.

In sessions with ABC and CBS, Palin badly stumbled over basic policy questions, giving weight to growing criticism that she had no experience in foreign affairs and lacked a strong grasp of domestic issues. Even some conservative commentators began dismissing her as ill-prepared to assume the presidency in an emergency.

Palin has also taken few questions from voters at campaign events, sticking carefully to a stump speech rather than joining in the type of town-hall meeting that is a staple of McCain's campaign. Her 90-minute debate Thursday night with Democratic rival Joe Biden has been her longest speaking event since the nominating convention.

In the Fox News interview, Palin denied being "reined in" by nervous McCain campaign aides. But she acknowledged that she needed to communicate more regularly on the campaign trail to be effective.

"I'm accessible. And now that the debate is over ... the wings are flying here," Palin said. "Let's soar, let's get out there and speak to voters and let them know what their choices are."

Palin said she had been "annoyed" in her interviews with CBS News anchor Katie Couric and had been caught off guard when asked what newspapers and magazines she read and to name Supreme Court decisions she disagreed with — questions Palin appeared not to be able to answer.

Her responses, Palin said, were "an indication of being outside that Washington elite, outside of the media elite also."

Of the CBS interviews, she said: "The Sarah Palin in those interviews is a little bit annoyed. Because it's like, no matter what you say, you're going to get clobbered. If you cease to answer a question, you're going to get clobbered on the answer. If you choose to try to pivot and go on to another subject that you believe that Americans want to hear about, you get clobbered for that, too."

Palin Constructs Somewhat Coherent Responses To Questions; Considers It Victory

From the Kansas City Star:

Sarah Palin barely meets low expectations; that's not a victory

By Yael T. Abouhalkah, Kansas City Star Editorial Page columnist

Republican backers such as New York Times columnist David Brooks are kidding themselves. Do they truly think many Americans agree that Sarah Palin "was surpassing all expectations" during Thursday's debate with Joe Biden?

Speaking for the GOP everywhere, Brooks (often a thoughtful commentator from the right) acknowledged in his Friday column that Republicans had been extremely nervous about Palin's appearance Thursday.

They had a right to have low expectations of Palin, given her sputtering non-answers in recent interviews with CBS's Katie Couric.

But Brooks practically clapped himself silly over Palin's performance.

In his most abysmal line of reasoning, Brooks said that Palin had made it "abundantly, unstoppably and relentlessly clear that she was not of Washington, did not admire Washington and knew litle about Washington."

That was an inane tactic by Palin -- who's campaigning to go to Washington, after all ostensibly to join the power elite there in leading this country.

It was even more inane of Brooks to think this line of reasoning struck a chord with Americans.

No, we don't want someone as ill-informed as Palin in Washington. She can toss around terms like "betcha" and "Joe Sixpack" all she wants to make it appear she's one of us.

But Palin, above all else, is a politician. She is going to have to act like one if she gets to Washington. That means hammering out deals and compromises with other people.

Being ignorant of Washington's ways isn't endearing. It's embarrassing for someone who wants to be vice president.

And it's embarrasing that the GOP and its backers such as David Brooks think Palin made headway with this argument Thursday night.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

The Late Show's: Top Ten Things Overheard at Sarah Palin's Debate Camp

1. "Any way we can just get Tina Fey to do it?"

2. "John Edwards wants to know if you'd like some private tutoring in his van"

3. "Can we get Congress to bail us out of this debate?"

4. "We have to wrap it up for the day -- McCain eats dinner at 4:30"

5. "Can I just use that lipstick-pit bull thing again?"

6. "We're screwed!"

7. "Maybe we'll get lucky and there won't be any questions about Iraq, taxes, or health care"

8. "Hey, I can see Mexico from here!"

9. "Can you try saying 'Yes' instead of 'You betcha'?"

10. "Let's practice your bewildered silence"

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Sarah Palin most definitely does not speak for all Alaskans.

[The] Alaska Women Reject Palin rally was to be held outside on the lawn in front of the Loussac Library in midtown Anchorage. Home made signs were encouraged, and the idea was to make a statement that Sarah Palin does not speak for all Alaska women, or men. I had no idea what to expect.

The rally was organized by a small group of women, talking over coffee. It made me wonder what other things have started with small groups of women talking over coffee. It's probably an impressive list. These women hatched the plan, printed up flyers, posted them around town, and sent notices to local media outlets. One of those media outlets was KBYR radio, home of Eddie Burke, a long-time uber-conservative Anchorage talk show host. Turns out that Eddie Burke not only announced the rally, but called the people who planned to attend the rally "a bunch of socialist baby-killing maggots," and read the home phone numbers of the organizers aloud over the air, urging listeners to call and tell them what they thought. The women, of course, received some nasty, harassing and threatening messages.

I felt a bit apprehensive. I'd been disappointed before by the turnout at other rallies. Basically, in Anchorage, if you can get 25 people to show up at an event, it's a success. So, I thought to myself, if we can actually get 100 people there that aren't sent by Eddie Burke, we'll be doing good. A real statement will have been made. I confess, I still had a mental image of 15 demonstrators surrounded by hundreds of menacing "socialist baby-killing maggot" haters.

It's a good thing I wasn't tailgating when I saw the crowd in front of the library or I would have ended up in somebody's trunk. When I got there, about 20 minutes early, the line of sign wavers stretched the full length of the library grounds, along the edge of the road, 6 or 7 people deep! I could hardly find a place to park. I nabbed one of the last spots in the library lot, and as I got out of the car and started walking, people seemed to join in from every direction, carrying signs.

Never, have I seen anything like it in my 17 and a half years living in Anchorage. The organizers had someone walk the rally with a counter, and they clicked off well over 1400 people (not including the 90 counter-demonstrators). This was the biggest political rally ever, in the history of the state. I was absolutely stunned. The second most amazing thing is how many people honked and gave the thumbs up as they drove by. And even those that didn't honk looked wide-eyed and awe-struck at the huge crowd that was growing by the minute. This just doesn't happen here.

Then, the infamous Eddie Burke showed up. He tried to talk to the media, and was instantly surrounded by a group of 20 people who started shouting O-BA-MA so loud he couldn't be heard. Then passing cars started honking in a rhythmic pattern of 3, like the Obama chant, while the crowd cheered, hooted and waved their signs high.

So, if you've been doing the math, yes. The Alaska Women Reject Palin rally was significantly bigger than Palin's rally that got all the national media coverage! So take heart, sit back and enjoy the photo gallery. Feel free to spread the pictures around to anyone who needs to know that Sarah Palin most definitely does not speak for all Alaskans. The citizens ofAlaska, who know her best have things to say.
-thanks Geralyn!

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Latest Palin Gaffe: Can't Name Supreme Court Case Other Than Roe V. Wade

The Huffington Post | Rachel Weiner | September 29, 2008 06:30 PM

Today, the Washington Post's Howard Kurtz reported on potentially embarrassing clips of Sarah Palin being interviewed by Katie Couric that haven't yet been aired. The Politico has more information on one in particular:

Of concern to McCain's campaign, however, is a remaining and still-undisclosed clip from Palin's interview with Couric last week that has the political world buzzing.

The Palin aide, after first noting how "infuriating" it was for CBS to purportedly leak word about the gaffe, revealed that it came in response to a question about Supreme Court decisions.

After noting Roe vs. Wade, Palin was apparently unable to discuss any major court cases.

There was no verbal fumbling with this particular question as there was with some others, the aide said, but rather silence.

CBS: More Palin Footage Coming
There is some buzz stirring among the politically obsessed that CBS News is sitting on embarrassing segments from its interview with Gov. Sarah Palin and that the station would trot out those segments sometime this week.

The Washington Post's media reporter Howard Kurtz stoked the flames this morning when the reported in his Media Notes column:

"And the worst may be yet to come for Palin; sources say CBS has two more responses on tape that will likely prove embarrassing."
In the end, it seems, there are no saved tapes. A spokesperson for CBS, says that the station has released all of the footage from last week's interview -- in which Palin provided increasingly unsteady answers to a series of foreign policy and economic questions.

The source clarified that what Kurtz was referring to is part of the Vice Presidential Questions series with Palin and Joseph Biden which was always scheduled to air in the days before the vice presidential debate.

"The series is based on the Presidential Questions series," the source says, "in which Couric asks the candidates the same set of questions on wide range of topics from policy to character to leadership."

In addition, CBS has some new Palin content coming this evening. The cameras will be following the Alaska Governor and John McCain on the campaign trail in Ohio Monday.

Under-fire Palin preps for key debate

by Sebastian Smith
NEW YORK (AFP) - Sarah Palin spent Tuesday in Republican "boot camp" cramming for this week's vice presidential debate amid mounting concern over whether she is ready for a White House post and calls for her to quit the ticket.

The first-term governor of Alaska will face off in St Louis, Missouri, on Thursday against the Democratic vice presidential pick, veteran Senator Joseph Biden, in their sole clash ahead of the November 4 election.

With some Republicans fearing a fiasco, the telegenic but inexperienced Palin is undergoing several days of intensive debate training at the Arizona ranch of presidential nominee John McCain.

In a time-honored tradition of the White House race, Biden was also spending time off the campaign trail preparing for the key debate.

What US media dub Palin's "boot camp" will continue right through Wednesday, with senior McCain aides and former White House operatives coaching her and cramming her with facts.

McCain, 72, also sought to help Palin navigate the media minefield, chaperoning her in a new CBS interview and indicating that Palin, 44, could emulate past presidents Ronald Reagan or Bill Clinton.

In a joint appearance on CBS television on Monday, McCain and Palin aimed to reverse the damage done by earlier Palin interviews, widely lampooned by the popular US comedian Tina Fey on the Saturday Night Live television show.

Interviewed jointly by Katie Couric, who questioned Palin alone in the earlier sessions, McCain intervened during a difficult question about whether his running-mate had contradicted the party's platform on Pakistan.

Palin had been criticized for telling a voter at a rally that the United States should be free to launch raids inside Pakistan in search of insurgents, after McCain rebuked his Democratic opponent Barack Obama for saying the same thing, warning that it was wrong to give notice of such attacks.

But McCain blamed the controversy on what he called aggressive "gotcha" journalism and interrupted when Couric asked Palin if she was sorry for having created such a stir.

The Arizona senator pointed to other state governors who had had limited national exposure when launching their bids for the White House, yet went on to become heavyweight presidents.

"I remember that Ronald Reagan was a 'cowboy.' President Clinton was a governor of a very small state that had 'no experience'," McCain said.

Palin, a political unknown before she was picked by McCain on August 29 to be his running mate, has on the whole been kept shielded from the national media.

A devout Christian and mother-of-five who is fiercely anti-abortion and a paid-up member of the National Rifle Association, Palin electrified McCain's campaign after being plucked from the obscurity of the far north.

She became the poster girl of the Republican right at the party's convention in early September and stole Obama's thunder as the freshest face on the political landscape.

But in recent days she has faced widespread ridicule for the few interviews she has given, including for citing Alaska's proximity to Canada and Russia as giving her a solid grounding in foreign policy.

She was also unable to give a coherent answer on how to resolve the financial crisis, and her reply, almost unaltered, was mimicked by Fey in a clip that has gone viral on the Internet.

Democrats and much of the media have assailed not only Palin's alleged lack of readiness for White House duty, but McCain's lack of judgement in choosing her.

More worrying for McCain is that noted conservative figures are now joining the barrage of attacks.

Writing in the conservative National Review, columnist Kathleen Parker said Palin should step down.

"Palin's recent interviews with Charles Gibson (ABC News), Sean Hannity (Fox News) and now Katie Couric have all revealed an attractive, earnest, confident candidate. Who Is Clearly Out Of Her League," Parker wrote.

"As we've seen and heard more from John McCain's running mate, it is increasingly clear that Palin is a problem," she added.