WASHINGTON (CNN) – In her first speech outside Alaska this year, Republican Gov. Sarah Palin praised her state, criticized the president's economic recovery plan and talked at length about her anti-abortion views.
But she didn't touch on what a lot of people wanted to know: Will she run for president in 2012?
Palin's appearance before the sold-out Vanderburgh County Right to Life dinner in Evansville, Indiana, brought in nationwide media and forced organizers to open up an overflow area for attendees.
"It's great to be here in Indiana, the crossroads of America," she said to thunderous applause.
Palin's dinner speech took her out of Alaska in the waning days of her state's legislative session, drawing harsh criticism from Democrats.
Listen: Palin proves she's still a draw. CNN Radio reports.
"They condemn anything that I do, but especially traveling outside the
state to speak in another state at a function like this," she said. "Which is ironic, because these are the same critics who would love to see me outside the state forever, permanently, you know, outside the governor's office anyway."
WASHINGTON (CNN) – Details of President-elect Barack Obama’s multi-billion dollar economic stimulus plan might still be murky, but his position on the hottest topic in the world of college football certainly is not.
“We need a playoff,” Obama told reporters after being asked about Florida’s 24-14 victory over Oklahoma in Thursday night’s BCS Championship game. "If I'm Utah, or if I'm USC or if I'm Texas, I might still have some quibbles.”
Florida, Oklahoma and Texas all finished the season with one loss. Texas actually handed Oklahoma its one defeat in October on a neutral field. When the BCS computer system put Florida and Oklahoma in this year’s national championship game, the annual back and forth over whether to have a college football playoff system was reignited. Utah was the only college football team to finish the season undefeated but its conference is considered less competitive and therefore was put at a statistical disadvantage in the BCS.
Friday was not the first time Obama stated his preference for a playoff system.
Related: BCS is a political football in 2009
"It would add three extra weeks to the season," Obama said in a interview on CBS’ 60 Minutes just after the election. "You could trim back on the regular season. I don't know any serious fan of college football who has disagreed with me on this. So, I'm going to throw my weight around a little bit. I think it's the right thing to do."
The night before Election Day both Sen. John McCain and Obama made brief appearances during Monday Night Football. “I'm fed up with these computer rankings and this that and the other. Get eight teams - the top eight teams right at the end. You got a playoff. Decide on a national champion,” he said then.
WASHINGTON (CNN) – When President-elect Barack Obama heads to the Democratic National Committee Thursday afternoon to formally announce the name of the party's new chair, there will be a notable absence.
Current Chairman Howard Dean is leaving Thursday morning for Pago Pago, American Samoa to attend the inauguration of that territory’s governor, and to help raise money for the Democratic Party there. Dean has so far visited all 50 states, and all territories except American Samoa.
Virginia Governor Tim Kaine, who was on the shortlist to be Obama’s vice-president, will succeed Dean and formally take over his DNC post later this month.
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WASHINGTON (CNN) - As President Bush prepares to leave office and looks back over his tenure, he Tuesday continued to stand firmly by his decision to go to war in Iraq, calling the decision to send troops into harm's way the most important one he made he has made in the Oval Office.
"I listened to a lot of people before we went into Iraq. And I listened to a lot of people, including in my own administration, who said, 'it's just not working. Let's get out.' And I listened very carefully to them. And obviously, came to a different conclusion," President Bush told CNN's Senior Political Correspondent Candy Crowley during a tour of the Oval Office.
While he did not want to revisit his decision to go to war, Bush he was ultimately concerned about "whether or not we would succeed."
"I have worried about it in the past, in 2006 in particular. In Iraq, I was deeply concerned about whether or not we would succeed," he said. "A lot of people in Washington, were saying, let's get out now. And I obviously chose not to do that. But, that was a very difficult period," he said.
The president said he "considered all options" when it came to Iraq and contemplated leaving but said, "I could not live with myself, if I had chosen to just leave and leave behind the valor and the sacrifice of a lot of our young men and women. I would have never been able to face their loved ones."
LEESBURG, Virginia (CNN) - In recent days, comments made by various Republicans about certain places being the "real America" or certain people being "pro-America" have started to creep into Barack Obama's stump speech. The lines appear to be resonating with supporters.
"I know some folks may not think so, but this looks like the real Virginia to me. This looks like authentic Virginia and y'all look like a bunch of Virginians," he said at an early evening rally. "I've been traveling across this great state of Virginia. I've met folks everywhere I go I haven't seen a real Virginia and a fake Virginia I've just seen Virginia."
As Obama's motorcade made its way through quaint downtown Leesburg, residents were lining the streets and standing on porches waving a mix of Obama and McCain signs. Hanging from one white Victorian home was a hand painted sign that said "real Virginians for Obama."
RICHMOND, Virginia (CNN) –- Joe the plumber is getting some company on the campaign trail.
“Let’s be clear who Senator McCain is fighting for, he’s not fighting for Joe the plumber. He’s fighting for Joe the hedge fund manager. John McCain likes to talk about Joe the plumber but he’s in cahoots with Joe the CEO. So don’t be fooled, don’t let them hoodwink you,” Obama told thousands at a mid-afternoon rally.
Obama’s now infamous conversation with Ohio plumber Joe Wurzelbacher has become a rallying point for both the Democratic and Republican candidates.
McCain has repeatedly said Obama’s tax plan would punish Joe the plumber because the Democratic nominee wants to change the income distribution to help those making less and thereby hurt entrepreneurs and those trying to get ahead. Obama counters that he wants to give a tax cut to the majority of working Americans and roll back the Bush tax cuts to the rates that existed under President Bill Clinton where the wealthier paid more.
In recent days Obama has taken to highlighting statements McCain made in 2001 in which he said he could not support President Bush’s tax cuts because “so many of the benefits go to the most fortunate among us, at the expense of middle-class Americans who most need tax relief.”
MIAMI, Florida (CNN) – Barack Obama lauded his wife Michelle at his evening event for being a better speaker than he is. Apparently she is also a better dancer.
The Democratic presidential nominee taped an appearance for the "Ellen DeGeneres Show" after his rally on a makeshift set behind the press filing tent. DeGeneres told Obama that when Michelle appeared on her show "she was talking some smack" about his dance "moves."
Standing in front of a few rows of supporters, Obama danced to James Brown's "Get Up Offa That Thing" much to the delight of the talk show host.
"Let me tell you that Michelle may be a better dancer. But I'm convinced I'm a better dancer than John McCain," Obama said.
Watch: Obama says he's a better dancer than McCain
Obama told DeGeneres that his daughters were opting for scary Halloween costumes this year. He said Sasha, the younger daughter, is planning to be a "corpse bride" and Malia will be an "evil fairy."
"I've got to admit they both look too cute. They're not scary enough for my taste," he said.
The segment will air on Wednesday.
ORLANDO, Florida (CNN) – Hillary Clinton came to Florida, a state she won in the primary but whose delegates she could not fully claim, to urge her supporters to turn out for Barack Obama on Election Day.
“We are 15 days from the finish line and we cannot falter, we cannot stop, we cannot take a single vote for granted,” Clinton said Monday. “I am asking you to work as hard for Barack as you worked for me. If you made phone calls for me, make them for Barack. If you walked streets for me, make them for Barack. If you talked to your friends and neighbors for me, do it again for Barack. We cannot risk four more years of the same failed Republican policies.”
The two former rivals had not appeared together at a public rally since they came together in Unity, New Hampshire shortly after the primary season ended, and before Obama officially became the Democratic nominee. Monday's event marks their first joint appearance of the general election season.
The Obama campaign said Senator Clinton has done countless fundraisers and events on behalf of the Obama-Biden ticket. She and former President Clinton recently campaigned with Senator Joe Biden in Scranton, Pennsylvania – an area where the New York senator has deep family ties.
“Sending the Republicans to clean up the economic mess in Washington is like sending the bull to clean up the china closet. We’re not buying that anymore,” Clinton said Monday, straining her voice to be heard over raucous applause. “Now is the time to close the deal for Barack Obama, and close the book on eight years of failed Republican leadership. We are in an economic crisis born and bred by the failed Republican policies of George Bush and John McCain.”
WEST PALM BEACH, Florida (CNN) – Senator Barack Obama will leave the campaign trail Thursday afternoon and travel to Hawaii to visit his grandmother, who is seriously ill.
Robert Gibbs, a senior advisor to Obama, told reporters on the flight from Orlando that 85 year-old Madelyn Dunham’s health “has deteriorated to the point where her situation is very serious.” Gibbs would not elaborate on the severity of Dunham’s condition, but said the fact that Obama was traveling to see her “underscores the seriousness of the situation.”
Dunham was released from the hospital late last week.
Obama had been scheduled to appear in Wisconsin and Des Moines, Iowa on Thursday. Those events have been canceled. Instead, Obama will do a morning event in Indianapolis, Indiana and then head to Hawaii. He will return to the trail on Saturday with a campaign event in a western state.
His campaign will continue to function normally and in no way is being suspended.
TAMPA BAY, Florida (CNN) – Barack Obama told voters here the tenor of the campaign is only going to get worse but that apparently he had found an ally in the fight against Republican attacks: GOP vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin..
“We’ve seen it before. And we’re seeing it again. Ugly phone calls. Misleading mail and TV ads. Careless, outrageous comments. All aimed at keeping us from working together, all aimed at stopping change,” he told a crowd of thousands at Steinbrenner Field. “It’s getting so bad that even Senator McCain’s running mate denounced his tactics last night. You know, you really have to work hard to violate Governor Palin’s standards on negative campaigning, you’ve got to work hard. ...
“What we know is that change never comes without a fight. Power concedes nothing without a fight. In the final days of campaigns, the say-anything, do-anything politics too often takes over,” Obama said.
Palin told reporters Sunday that if she were in charge of the campaign there would be more time spent one-on-one with voters and less time on “the old conventional ways of campaigning that includes those robo-calls.”
The Obama campaign descended on Florida Monday, the first day Floridians could vote early. The Democratic nominee and Hillary Clinton were scheduled to campaign together in Orlando. Clinton held a solo event earlier in Ft. Lauderdale. Michelle Obama and New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson will headline separate events across the state on Tuesday.
Polls have shown the state all but tied and the Obama campaign aides think if “sporadic voters” can be mobilized to cast a ballot early, that may be the edge they need to win.
“I want everybody after this rally, if you have not already voted I want you to go vote. Don’t wait until November 4th you don’t know what might happen on Nov 4th. Your car might break down, you might have an emergency, you might the alarm might not go off you don’t get to work on time. So take the advantage of early vote,” Obama implored the crowd.