(CNN) - After a week of bare-knuckle political brawling on the trail, it seemed Friday John McCain’s campaign had found religion.
In a Web ad e-mailed to supporters, the McCain team painted Barack Obama as a recipient of near-messianic hype – and a candidate all-too-willing to believe it.
“It shall be known that in 2008 the world will be blessed. They will call him ‘The One,’” says the announcer in the minute-long video, over images of light shining from the heavens and a gospel music-like soundtrack, interspersed with clips drawn from Obama speeches.
“And he has anointed himself. Ready to carry the burden of The One,” continues the announcer. “He can do no wrong. Can you see the light?”
By the end of the ad, Obama seems to have received a promotion from mere Messiah to possible divinity: Charlton Heston’s Moses is shown parting the Red Sea, proclaiming “Behold His mighty hand!” as Obama’s presidential seal rises from the waters.
(CNN) - It was tough crowds all around for the two presumptive presidential nominees Friday.
In the latest episode of CNN=Politics Daily, Suzanne Malveaux reports on how Sen. Barack Obama responded to being heckled over the attention he has paid to the needs of the African-American community.
On the same day Obama was challenged by voters who felt he was not sensitive enough to African-American issues, Sen. John McCain spoke before the National Urban League, a powerful African-American civil rights organization. Even though McCain's crowd would have appeared to favor Obama, the presumptive Republican nominee did not hesitate to suggest that the mostly African-American audience look beyond Obama's "rhetoric."
And, will the general election in November be a referendum on Obama rather than President Bush? Senior Political Analyst Bill Schneider reports that the 2008 presidential election is appearing to come together as a test of the presumptive Democratic nominee rather than the current Republican administration.
Carol Costello has the story of a GOP fund-raising mailer that has confused some Republicans.
Finally, its Friday. That means its time for Jennifer Mikell's Trail Mix - a look back at some of this week's most memorable moments from the campaign trail.
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ORLANDO, Florida (CNN) – Barack Obama said Friday that he would be willing to compromise on his position against offshore oil drilling if it were part of a more overarching strategy to lower energy costs.
“My interest is in making sure we've got the kind of comprehensive energy policy that can bring down gas prices," Obama told The Palm Beach Post early into a two-day swing through Florida.
"If, in order to get that passed, we have to compromise in terms of a careful, well thought-out drilling strategy that was carefully circumscribed to avoid significant environmental damage – I don't want to be so rigid that we can't get something done," Obama said.
The senator from Illinois has railed against offshore drilling since John McCain in June proposed striking down the federal moratorium banning offshore oil and gas drilling to help alleviate high gas prices.
“When I’m president, I intend to keep in place the moratorium here in Florida and around the country that prevents oil companies from drilling off Florida’s coasts,” Obama told reporters in Jacksonville in late June. “That’s how we can protect our coastline and still make the investments that will reduce our dependence on foreign oil and bring down gas prices for good.”
Even as recently as Thursday, Obama refused to cede any ground, calling McCain’s proposal “a strategy designed to get politicians through an election.”
“It's not going to provide short-term relief or medium-term relief or in fact long-term relief. It won't drop prices in this administration or in the next administration or in the administration after that,” Obama said while campaigning in Iowa.
But Friday Obama admitted that something is better than nothing and praised a bipartisan energy plan from the Senate that combines alternative energy innovation, financial, nuclear energy and drilling proposals. He noted he is still skeptical about drilling’s potential to lower gas prices or reduce dependence on foreign oil.
“The Republicans and the oil companies have been really beating the drums on drilling," Obama said in the interview with the Florida paper, "and so we don't want gridlock. We want to get something done.”
The McCain camp was quick to applaud Obama’s softening on the issue.
“It’s clear that members of both parties are following John McCain's leadership toward an ‘all of the above’ approach on energy that includes nuclear, alternative energy, and offshore drilling,” said a McCain spokesman. “We hope Barack Obama will realize that his ongoing opposition to John McCain’s realistic energy solutions and additional offshore drilling is wrong.”
(CNN) - Barack Obama fired back at John McCain’s campaign Friday over accusations that the presumptive Democratic nominee had played the race card, angrily denying the charge and calling the claim part of a “typical pattern from the McCain campaign.”
At a Wednesday campaign appearance in Missouri, Obama said that “nobody really thinks that Bush or McCain have a real answer for the challenges we face, so what they're going to try to do is make you scared of me. You know, he's not patriotic enough. He's got a funny name. You know, he doesn't look like all those other presidents on those dollar bills, you know. He's risky.”
He has made similar comments throughout the campaign season.
In interviews Friday afternoon, Obama did not elaborate on what scare tactics from McCain he had been referring to in his original remarks earlier this week, and said his opponent’s team had “amplified” his Wednesday statement in a way he found “troublesome.”
(CNN) - John McCain has chipped away at Barack Obama’s lead this week, the latest CNN poll of polls suggests.
CNN Election Center: View the latest state polls
Obama now holds a 3-point lead over McCain in CNN's average of national polls, 47 percent to 44 percent, down from the 5-point margin he held over the presumptive Republican nominee on Wednesday, and half his six-point margin at the beginning of the week in traditionally volatile summer polling.
The poll of polls includes the latest Gallup daily tracking poll, conducted July 29-31, that showed the two candidates tied at 44 percent after several days of back-and-forth between their campaigns over the McCain camp’s tough new anti-Obama ad, and accusations of racial politics on the trail.
“It appears that Obama received a temporary boost from his trip to Europe and the Middle East,” noted CNN Senior Political Researcher Alan Silverleib. “That boost has now faded, but the overall dynamics of the race have not. Obama is still in the lead — as he has been since clinching the Democratic nomination.”
In addition to the Gallup daily tracking poll, the CNN poll of polls also included a Pew poll conducted July 23-27, a USA Today/Gallup survey conducted July 25-27, and a CNN/Opinion Research Corporation conducted July 27-29. The CNN poll of polls does not have a margin of error.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - The microphones were off and the lights were dim, but more than a dozen House Republicans refused to go home Friday after the body adjourned for August recess.
The protesting conservatives gave impromptu speeches and nearly filled the seats of their powerful chamber with staffers, Boy Scouts and tourists, in an attempt to pressure Democrats to hold a vote on offshore drilling and other energy ideas. Republicans claim some 45 Congressmen took part.
Reporters scrambled to cover the extraordinary event, with no cameras permitted in the chamber. All sound systems had been turned off as soon as the House went into recess. But the noise was easy to hear from outside the chamber. The crowd on the floor chanted, "Vote! Vote! Vote!" after Congressmen Tom Price (R-Georgia) called for more action on energy and urged people to tell ten others to join the cause.
Listen: House Republicans and their guests chant "vote" in a dark House chamber.
Listen: Republicans and tourists applaud speeches in a shut-down House chamber.
Rep Kevin Brady, R-TX, said he was on a plane headed to Texas when he heard his GOP colleagues were still on the floor and he headed back to the Capitol. “The word went out that the people’s house is finally the people’s house again," he said.
ST. PETERSBURG, Florida (CNN) - Three young African-American protestors, and two white women, interrupted Barack Obama at an economic town hall in Florida Friday, accusing the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee of neglecting the black community.
The protestors - who held a sign reading "What About the Black Community, Obama?" – said the Illinois senator had not been active enough on issues of interest to African-Americans, ranging from the impact of subprime mortgages to the shooting of Sean Bell and the government’s response to Hurricane Katrina.
Obama urged the audience – which began to boo the hecklers – to calm down, before addressing one of the men directly. “I think you’re misinformed. Everything you mentioned I did speak about,” he said, listing legislative initiatives and statements on those issues as the men continued to shout at him and the crowd began to chant “Yes, We Can,” the Obama campaign’s cheer.
"He needs to put some meat on his bones." "I won't vote for any beanpole guy.” These are people talking about Barack Obama and why they can't relate to him.
The Wall Street Journal reports today on whether Obama's skinniness could wind up being a liability for him in this election, particularly in a country where two-thirds of the voting-age population is overweight and one-third is obese.
To read more and contribute to the Cafferty File discussion click here
(CNN) - John McCain dropped one name that’s figured prominently in recent veepstakes talk in a Friday speech - praising a Louisiana education initiative supported by that state’s governor, Bobby Jindal.
CNN's Political Market: Jindal's stock goes up
“Just ask the families in New Orleans who will soon have the chance to remove their sons and daughters from failing schools, and enroll them instead in a school-choice scholarship program,” he told the Urban League in Orlando Friday. “That program in Louisiana was proposed by Democratic state legislators and signed into law by Governor Bobby Jindal. Just three years after Katrina, they are bringing real hope to poor neighborhoods, and showing how much can be achieved when both parties work together for real reform.”
Earlier: VP buzz rises around Jindal
Last week, Jindal – who is widely believed to be on McCain’s VP shortlist - seemed to take himself out of the running, telling an interviewer he would not be joining the GOP ticket this cycle.
"I'm not going to be the vice presidential nominee or vice president. I'm going to help Senator McCain get elected, as governor of Louisiana," he told a FOX interviewer.
(CNN) - Republican campaigns have launched a slew of ads this year looking to tie Democratic congressional candidates to Barack Obama. Now the Illinois senator’s name is making another appearance in a new GOP spot this week - the second ad from Oregon Senator Gordon Smith that stresses his own working relationship with the presumptive Democratic nominee, and with Massachusetts Senator John Kerry.
"Times are tough. Rising prices on gas, food, health care. Families need help. That's why I choose to reach across the aisle,” says Smith in the new spot. “With John Kerry to protect homeowners from foreclosure, with Barack Obama for better gas mileage. And when President Bush tried to cut Medicaid, the Oregon health plan, I said no. What matters is helping people, not who gets the credit.”
Last month, Smith plugged his work with the Illinois Democrat to push for stricter mileage standards for automobiles.
Smith may be highlighting his ties to Obama - but he can’t boast a nod from his Senate colleague, who supports Democratic opponent Jeff Merkley.