PHILADELPHIA (CNN) – Sarah Palin partook in an established political ritual on Saturday night when she headed to Tony Luke's in south Philadelphia to order a pair of cheesesteaks with whiz and onions.
But as the kitchen sizzled and orders were barked out, Palin found herself talking politics, calling McCain's debate performance "awesome" and taking questions from a voter about the hunt for terrorists in Pakistan.
While waiting in line with her daughter Willow to place her order, a reporter asked Palin if she watched Friday's debate, and what her impressions were.
"I did, I did," she said. "McCain did awesome. He was great. He was absolutely on his game."
Palin added that she is ready to debate Joe Biden next Thursday in St. Louis.
"I am," she said. "Look forward to it. Look forward to getting to speak to Americans through that debate, absolutely."
The governor got a more serious interrogation moments later when Temple graduate student Michael Rovito approached her to inquire about Pakistan.
"How about the Pakistan situation?," asked Rovito, who said he was not a Palin supporter. "What's your thoughts about that?"
"In Pakistan?," she asked, looking surprised.
Sens. Barack Obama and Joe Biden campaigned together in North Carolina on Saturday.(AP Photo)
GREENSBORO, North Carolina (CNN) – A rare occurrence compared to the McCain-Palin ticket: Barack Obama and Joe Biden flew to North Carolina Saturday morning for their first joint rally since August 31. Both took the opportunity to hit John McCain for his Friday night debate performance, hammering the Arizona senator for failing to address middle class issues.
“The truth is,” Obama said, “through ninety minutes of debating, John McCain had a lot to say about me, but he had nothing to say about you. He didn't even say the words "middle class." Didn’t say the words “working people.”"
Obama discussed the bailout package that lawmakers hope to pass this weekend before markets open on Monday, laying out his proposals and reiterating the need for strict oversight.
“This administration started off by asking for a blank check to solve this problem,” said Obama. “It is unacceptable to expect the American people to hand this administration or any Administration a $700 billion without any conditions attached, without any oversight when a lack of oversight in Washington and on Wall Street is exactly what got us into this mess in the first place.”
The Illinois senator mocked McCain for stealing the Democrats’ lines, laughing, “You gotta come up with your own stuff!”
“He's been grabbing our signs, using our slogans,” said Obama. “The other day he said, I think, we need to ‘turn the page.’ It's like, come on, John! I've been saying that for – how long have I been saying that? Pretty soon I'm going to have to start saying I'm a maverick!”
Watch: The McCain campaign released a new ad highlighting Sens. Biden and Obama's difference on troop funding.
(CNN)—In perhaps a sign of what can be expected from next week's vice presidential debate, the McCain campaign released a new ad Saturday highlighting Barack Obama and Joe Biden's differing opinions on funding for troops.
"In the midst of war, Senator Obama voted to cut off funding for our troops," the announcer says. "What did Biden say?"
"They said they voted against the money to make a political point," the 30-second spot shows Joe Biden saying in 2007.
Biden, who is chairman of the Senate's Foreign Relations committee, voted in favor of the troop funding bill last May.
The ad, "Promise," concludes with a familiar line of attack from Friday night's debate in Mississippi, that Obama lacks the experience to be the next commander in chief.
"Barack Obama. Playing politics. Risking lives. Not ready to lead," the announcer says.
The Obama campaign was quick to respond, criticizing McCain for past votes of his own.
"Despite what his increasingly desperate and dishonorable campaign says, John McCain opposed funding for our troops that would have brought them home, while Barack Obama voted against a blank check for George Bush," Obama spokesman Hari Sevugan said in a statement. "So if John McCain wants to talk about funding, he should explain why he voted against life-saving equipment for our troops in battle, voted repeatedly against funding for veterans' health care, and wants to keep spending $10 billion a month in Iraq while the Iraqis have a surplus and our economy is in crisis.”
According to the McCain camapaign, the ad will air nationally.
WASHINGTON (CNN) – A top aide to Senator John McCain said the Republican presidential candidate will not go to Capitol Hill Saturday afternoon, as negotiators meet to work out a deal on the financial bailout plan.
Senior adviser Mark Salter just told reporters outside McCain’s campaign headquarters in Arlington, VA that the Senator will instead continue to make calls to members of Congress.
Salter said he will not go because “he can effectively do what he needs to do by phone. "He’s calling members on both sides, talking to people in the administration, helping out as he can.’’ The campaign said it will release a list of people McCain spoke with later Saturday.
Senator Barack Obama, traveling for campaign events in North Carolina and Virginia, spoke Saturday with Congressman Barney Frank, Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and Senator Harry Reid, his campaign said. The Democratic presidential candidate was briefed on the latest with the negotiations.
McCain returned to Washington early Saturday morning from Memphis following last night’s debate because of the bailout situation. He decided to deliver a Saturday evening speech by satellite to a group in Columbus rather than traveling there in person.
Salter said, “We hope to have a deal in place so we can get back on the trail.”
Update: According to the McCain campaign, the Republican nominee called President Bush, Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson, Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke, Sen. Mitch McConnell , Sen. Judd Gregg, Sen. Jon Kyl, Leader Boehner, Rep. Blunt, Rep. Putnam, Rep. Cantor, Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, Rep. Tom Davis, Rep. Chip Pickering, Rep. Heather Wilson, Rep. John Shadegg, Rep. Flake, and Rep. Marsha Blackburn on Saturday.
ABOARD THE ELECTION EXPRESS
OXFORD, Mississippi (CNN)– I don’t recall exactly what was going on politically that particular moment during the 1976 Democratic National Convention in New York; whatever was transpiring on the floor was less than scintillating.
A bunch of us who were working for the Chicago Sun-Times that year were sitting on our folding card-table-type chairs near the podium inside Madison Square Garden: Jim Hoge, who ran the place, Bob Novak, Roger Simon, myself, a few others.
(Roger, feel free to call in any refinements to my recollections here.)
From behind us, a voice said:
“Those phones work?”
On the long plywood desks were big black telephones, installed for convention week; communicating was not quite so effortless then.
We turned around.
Light-blue seersucker suit (trust me, he could pull off that look– he could pull off any look), easy grin, eyes that don’t require description.
(CNN) – Now that Sens. Barack Obama and John McCain have their first presidential debate out of the way, the focus turns to their running mates.
Sen. Joe Biden and Gov. Sarah Palin will face off Thursday at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri.
There's a lot of anticipation surrounding the VP debate because Palin has remained largely on script in her first month on the campaign trail.
Watch: Europe reacts to U.S. debate
While Biden has a well-earned reputation for impetuous and brutally honest remarks, he's also a long-time senator with decades of experience in the public eye.
As chairman of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, the 65-year-old Delaware senator is well versed on foreign policy.
Biden has done nearly 100 interviews since being picked as Obama's VP on August 23.
Palin, on the other hand, did her third interview with a national television network last week. On Wednesday, she held her first media availability with her traveling reporters.
A rainbow appears from the steps of the Capitol.(Eric Marrapodi/CNN)
WASHINGTON (CNN) – The Senate overwhelmingly passed a spending bill Saturday that allows a 26-year ban on offshore oil drilling to expire, subsidizes federal loans for automakers and offers aid to Gulf Coast hurricane disaster victims.
The House already passed the $600 billion stop gap funding bill on Wednesday. The bill, which passed the Senate on a 78-12 vote, will continue government spending at the current level through March 6, 2009.
President Bush is expected to sign the measure.
The end to the ban on oil drilling off the Atlantic and Pacific coasts is a major victory for Republicans. Speeches at the Republican National Convention last month were often interrupted with chants of "Drill, baby, drill."
The ban will be lifted October 1.
Republicans on Capitol Hill have seized on drilling as a major election year issue, citing multiple public opinion polls that show a majority of Americans support more offshore drilling. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-California, had incurred Republican wrath for originally blocking any vote on drilling before allowing a vote on limited drilling earlier this month.
(CNN)– John McCain is at his national campaign headquarters in Arlington, Virginia at this hour. His campaign tells us he's meeting with advisers regarding the proposed $700 billion federal bailout and
the latest negotiations and developments on Capitol Hill, and is "making a lot of calls to make sure that things stay on track."
The campaign says that Senator McCain will head to Capitol Hill later this afternoon. They weren't clear exactly what he's going to actually do when he gets there.
The campaign is touting that, as one aide puts it, McCain's "the glue that is going to potentially bind together House Republicans and Democratic members of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's caucus."
But McCain isn't engaging with House Democrats and currently isn't directly involved in the current negotiations, so it's unclear how he's the so-called glue.
When pressed on that, the campaign aide repeated the point that Camp McCain's been making for 24 hours, that McCain is the one who pushed House Republicans back to the negotiating table.
The McCain campaign is also highlighting the contrast between McCain hard at work "showing leadership" and Obama on the trail today in North Carolina, a state the McCain camp says "he won't win."
UPDATE: CNN Political Producer Tasha Diakides reports that Senior McCain Campaign Adviser Mark Salter says it looks like Senator McCain is not going to the Capitol today and will instead make phone calls from the McCain Campaign HQ in Arlington, Virginia. Salter says the Republican presidential nominee will continue that effort tomorrow, although he can't say definitively that McCain is not traveling tomorrow.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - In their first head-to-head debate, Sen. John McCain criticized Sen. Barack Obama as a candidate who "doesn't understand" the key issues the country faces, and Obama linked McCain to President Bush on several issues.
"I'm afraid Sen. Obama doesn't understand the difference between a tactic and a strategy," McCain said Friday as the two traded jabs over Iraq.
Obama shot back, "I absolutely understand the difference between tactics and strategy. And the strategic question that the president has to ask is not whether or not we are employing a particular approach in the country once we have made the decision to be there."
McCain drew from his experience overseas as he tried to portray himself as the more qualified candidate.
"Incredibly, incredibly Sen. Obama didn't go to Iraq for 900 days and never asked for a meeting with Gen. [David] Petraeus," he said.
McCain slammed Obama for not supporting the surge, an increase of about 30,000 troops to Iraq in early 2007. Bush sent the additional troops as part of a campaign to pacify Baghdad and its surrounding provinces.
"John, you like to pretend like the war started in 2007," Obama shot back. "You talk about the surge. The war started in 2003, and at the time when the war started, you said it was going to be quick and easy. You said we knew where the weapons of mass destruction were. You were wrong."
(CNN)– Keeping the economy front and center, the Obama-Biden campaign released a new post-debate ad Saturday, saying when it comes to the economy, GOP presidential candidate Sen. John McCain 'doesn't get it.'
"Number of minutes in debate: 90," the announcer says as the words are typed across a blank screen. "Number of times John McCain mentioned the middle class: Zero."
The economy took the lead in Friday night's debate, as both candidates looked to highlight their plans bring the United States out of what some are describing as the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression.
A recent CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll found when it comes to the economy, 47 percent of voters questioned find the GOP are responsible for the current economic problems, while 24 percent said Democrats are more responsible.
The 30-second spot, 'Zero," includes portions of Friday night's debate where Barack Obama looked to pain McCain as lock-step with President Bush on economic policy.
"The fundamentals of the economy have been measured by whether or not the middle class is getting a fair shake," Obama said Friday night. In terms of tax policy, "you are neglecting people who are really struggling right now," Obama told McCain. "I think that is a continuation of the last eight years, and we can't afford another four."
According to the Obama campaign, the ad, known as “Zero,” will begin airing nationally Monday on cable.
Update: McCain campaign spokesman Tucker Bounds released the following statement in response to the latest ad:
“John McCain repeatedly pointed to Senator Obama’s vote in favor of higher taxes on families making just 42,000 a year, and his proposal for $860 billion in lavish new government spending which is a crushing burden on middle class families and the Main Street economy," Bounds said in a statement Saturday. "If he was honest, Barack Obama knows he was unable to debate the merits of supporting higher taxes on the middle class, and bloated government spending during a looming economic crisis – it’s simply indefensible.”