STERLING HEIGHTS, Michigan (CNN) - At a large rally in Michigan on Friday, his first day campaigning after accepting the Republican presidential nomination, John McCain promised to upend the Washington status quo, arguing that the Democratic ticket doesn't have the chops to do so.
"That's why this ticket is the ticket to shake up Washington, because Sen. Obama doesn't have the strength to do it," McCain said. "He has never bucked his party on any issue. Never. If you want real reform, if you want real change, send the one's who've actually done it. Send the team of mavericks who aren't afraid to go to Washington and break some china."
Introducing McCain, running mate Sarah Palin boasted, "There is only one man in this election who has every really fought for you, and that man is John McCain."
(CNN) – Talk show host Oprah Winfrey is denying a report of division within her staff over booking Republican vice presidential nominee Gov. Sarah Palin as a guest.
“The item in today’s Drudge Report is categorically untrue,” Winfrey wrote in a statement issued Friday. “There has been absolutely no discussion about having Sarah Palin on my show.”
Citing sources that had spoken to the news Web site, a story posted Friday morning on The Drudge Report said “Oprah's staff is sharply divided on the merits of booking Sarah Palin.” “One executive close to Winfrey is warning any Palin ban could ignite a dramatic backlash!,” the story also says.
But Winfrey, a longtime and outspoken supporter of Sen. Barack Obama, is flat-out denying the report. “At the beginning of this presidential campaign when I decided that I was going to take my first public stance in support of a candidate, I made the decision not to use my show as a platform for any of the candidates,” Winfrey wrote in the statement. “I agree that Sarah Palin would be a fantastic interview, and I would love to have her on after the campaign is over.”
In addition to holding a fundraiser for Obama, the media mogul has appeared on the campaign trail for the Illinois senator and she attended the recent Democratic convention where Obama became the first African-American to be named the presidential nominee of a major political party. “It filled us with a sense of hope and possibility that, you know, I never even, sort of, been able tap into,” Winfrey said about the convention. “It was beyond anything I’d ever experienced. It really was. It was a transcendent moment.”
DURYEA, Pennsylvania (CNN) – Barack Obama continued to hammer the McCain campaign on Friday for manager Rick Davis’s comments that the election would be more about the candidates’ personas, not the issues. The Illinois senator said he’s not running for president for his “pretty good personality” and that it’s a sign Republicans intend to scare voters away from him with false accusations of Muslim and radical connections.
“When [the Republicans] say this isn’t about issues it’s about personalities what they’re really saying is “we’re going to try to scare people about Barack”,” he told a small gathering at a glass factory near Scranton. “'We’re going to say that you know, maybe he’s got Muslim connections or we’re going to say that, you know, he hangs out with radicals or he’s not patriotic.' Just making stuff up.”
(CNN) – Republican Rep. Lynn Westmoreland was unaware a word he used to describe Barack and Michelle Obama on Thursday carries racial overtones, a spokesman for the congressman told CNN.
Westmoreland, who represents Georgia's third district, described the Obamas as "uppity" when asked by reporters in Washington to compare Repubican vice presidential canidate Sarah Palin with the wife of the Democratic presidential candidate.
“Just from what little I’ve seen of her and Mr. Obama, Sen. Obama, they’re a member of an elitist-class individual that thinks that they’re uppity,” Westmoreland said, according to the Capitol Hill Newspaper the Hill.
Westmoreland's spokesman, Brian Robinson, insisted the congressman did not know the word has been used with a racially derogatory intent against African-Americans.
"When describing the Obamas as part of an elite class, Congressman Westmoreland also used a synonym for elitist: uppity. He was using the dictionary definition of the word, which is having 'an inflated self-esteem' or 'snobbish.' He stands by that characterization and thinks it accurately describes the Democratic nominee. He was unaware that the word had racial overtones and he had absolutely no intention of using a word that can be considered offensive," Robinson said.
Tommy Vietor, a spokesman for Obama's campaign, would not comment to CNN, but told The Hill, " “Sounds like Rep. Westmoreland should be careful throwing stones from his candidate’s eight glass houses."
Robinson said it is important to note the Obama campaign did not note the racial overtones of the word in its response.
"Congressman Westmoreland and Senator Obama may not agree on much, but at least they can agree that Congressman Westmoreland was not referring to race," Robinson said.
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (CNN) - Alaska lawmakers Friday moved up their deadline for finishing an investigation into Gov. Sarah Palin's firing of the state's public safety commissioner and warned they will begin issuing subpoenas for witnesses next week.
The report into Public Safety Commissioner Walter Monegan's dismissal had been scheduled for October 31. But now that Palin is the Republican nominee for vice president, lawmakers want to avoid an "October surprise" that could sway the November presidential election, the investigation's managers said.
CHICAGO, Illinois (CNN) - The Rev. Jesse Jackson - who was hospitalized after suffering stomach pains - was released Friday after being treated for food poisoning, his spokesman said.
"Reverend Jackson has just left the hospital. Doctors say he is recovering nicely and is expected to make a full and complete recovery from food poisoning. Doctors do not expect the reverend to suffer long-term side effects from this illness," said his spokesman, Sam Chapman.
Jackson, 66, a long-time civil rights activist, admitted himself to Northwestern Memorial Hospital around 3 p.m. Wednesday, complaining of stomach pains, hospital spokeswoman Latoya Porter said.
Doctors diagnosed him with viral gastroenteritis and severe dehydration.
Viral gastroenteritis is commonly referred to as the stomach flu and is not considered serious for most people.
CORRECTED 3:05pm to reflect that Jackson was not working on behalf of the Obama campaign at the time he fell ill.
(CNN) - With the conventions over, the running mates picked, and 60 days to go until the election, Friday began a new stage of the presidential campaign. And it came with a big new piece of fodder for both campaigns.
The latest government jobs report, released Friday morning, showed unemployment at a five-year high of 6.1 percent.
"You would think that George Bush and his potential Republican successor John McCain would be spending a lot of time worrying about the economy, and all these jobs that are being lost on their watch," Barack Obama told voters at a campaign stop in Duryea, Pennsylvania.
Instead, he said, speakers at the Republican National Convention "didn't say a thing about what is going on with the middle class."
CEDARBURG, Wisconsin (CNN) – Sarah Palin took to her attack dog role with gusto on Friday morning, calling John McCain “the only great man in this race” and disparaging Barack Obama’s judgment on the troop surge in Iraq.
Watch: Palin slams Obama on Iraq
Reading off notes, Palin mocked Obama for telling Fox News on Thursday that the surge “has succeeded in ways that nobody anticipated.”
“I guess when you turn out to be profoundly wrong on a vital national security issue, maybe it’s comforting to pretend that everyone else was wrong too,” Palin said, adding that McCain was “the one leader who did predict success.”
The crowd cheered when Palin reprised a pithy line from her convention speech that mocked Obama's professional background.
“I guess a small town mayor is sort of like a community organizer only you have actual responsibilities,” she said, responding to critics who accuse her of lacking experience.
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (CNN) - The Alaska state trooper at the center of a probe into whether Gov. Sarah Palin abused her power says he has "made mistakes, and I've learned from those mistakes."
But, in an exclusive interview with CNN, Mike Wooten - Palin's former brother-in-law - also denies some of the biggest allegations against him, including drinking while driving.
"I made mistakes. I fessed up to them. I was punished appropriately, and I'm moving on," said the 36-year-old, who went through a long, messy divorce and custody battle with Palin's sister.
In the past week, Wooten's troubles, and his history, have suddenly taken on national prominence as Palin stepped into the limelight as Sen. John McCain's running mate.
An investigation is under way into whether Palin used her office to pressure for Wooten's firing, and ultimately fired Public Safety Commissioner Walt Monegan for refusing to sack Wooten.
Palin has denied any wrongdoing, saying her decision to fire Monegan involved budgetary concerns and moving the department in a new direction. She has acknowledged that aides and members of her family repeatedly discussed Wooten with Monegan or members of his department, but said at no time did she, or anyone else acting at her request, use her office to press for Wooten's firing.
(CNN) – As the general election campaign officially gets under way, a new poll suggests that Sens. John McCain and Barack Obama are running neck-and-neck in Indiana.
In a Howey-Gauge survey of likely voters in the state, McCain has support from 45 percent of those polled, Obama from 43 percent, and 12 percent are unsure about their choice for president.
The poll of 600 likely Indiana voters was conducted August 29-30 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.1 percentage points making the race a virtual tie.
The poll does not, however, necessarily suggest that Indiana will be a battleground in the fall campaign.
"The important thing to note is that the poll was conducted entirely after the Democratic convention, and entirely before the GOP convention began. So this may represent Obama's high-water mark in Indiana," said CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. "The real test of whether Indiana is in play will have to wait for polling that reflects the effects of both conventions."