ZANESVILLE, Ohio (CNN) – In the final days of a presidential campaign, nothing is left to chance. With so much planning and set-up going into every stop, no detail is too small. So everything runs with clockwork precision, right? Uh, yeah, sure. But when events veer slightly off course, the candidates are quick to point some playfully partisan fingers.
In Reno on Saturday, Barack Obama’s microphone died mid-sentence during a rally. He walked the stage and shook hands for the three minutes while crews worked on the problem. When the sound came back, he told the crowd as he resumed, “Hello, hello, hello! I told you folks are having trouble making their electricity bills. Either that or somebody from the McCain campaign kicked our plug out of the socket. That was just a joke, guys, there’s no evidence of foul play. Now, where was I?”
Sunday, the lights went out over the stage during the introductions to John McCain at a high school in Zanesville, Ohio, Senator Lindsey Graham was left speaking in the shadows, filling until the problem was fixed so McCain could take the stage. To laughter, McCain said as he began, “Thank you for the warm welcome. I think the lighting is brought to you courtesy of the Democratic National Committee.”
At least we think they’re being playful.
INTERSTATE 4, Florida (CNN)– Joe the plumber goes on tour?
Well sort of.
Driving through Florida on the "Straight Talk Express," Sen. John McCain rallied voters and talked to small business owners during the "Joe the Plumber: Keep Your Wealth" tour.
“You know whether it is Joe the plumber in Ohio or whether it is Joe over here –thank you Joe. There's Joes all over here,” said McCain at his second stop, a rally in Ormond Beach, Florida. “Senator Obama wants to spread the wealth around. That means fewer jobs at their businesses and fewer jobs here in Florida.”
People cheered as they held signs that said, "McCain will help the working man" and "My husband is Tom the plumber". Two fork lifts held the "Country First" sign above the platform.
McCain kicked off the tour at the Starlite Diner in Daytona Beach with four small business owners, or in campaign speak, four Joe the plumbers.
Their actual names and professions are florist Richard Rivers, pub owner Tom Curtis, food store owner Patricia Surgine and Thomas Crowe, president of a lumber supply company and a former professional football player.
CONCORD, North Carolina (CNN) – John McCain stepped up his rhetoric against Barack Obama on taxes in his weekly radio address, comparing his plan to 'socialist' programs that would “convert the IRS into a giant welfare agency, redistributing massive amounts of wealth.”
The remarks were part of a theme McCain has used since the final presidential debate that criticizes Obama’s philosophy, but his most recent comments were the first time he directly invoked the word 'socialist.'
In the radio address that aired Saturday morning, McCain didn't directly call Obama a socialist, but he let the now-famous Joe 'the Plumber' Wurzelbacher nearly do it for him.
“You see, [Obama] believes in redistributing wealth, not in policies that help us all make more of it. Joe in his plainspoken way, said this sounded a lot like socialism,” McCain said.
In an interview with ABC last week, Wurzelbacher said Obama's proposal to raise taxes by 3 percent on those making $250,000 and over is a "very socialist view."
Republican VP candidate Sarah Palin has used the word in speeches the last two days as well.
(CNN) - A prominent surrogate for John McCain on Thursday raised Barack Obama's admitted cocaine use as a teenager and said the Illinois senator should speak candidly about it to the American people.
Speaking to Dennis Miller, a comedian and conservative radio talk show host, former Oklahoma Gov. Frank Keating said Obama should be more forthright about his background and what he called his "very extreme" record.
"He ought to admit, ‘You know, I've got to be honest with you. I was a guy of the street. I was way to the left. I used cocaine. I voted liberally, but I'm back at the center,'" Keating, a co-chair of McCain’s campaign, said Obama should tell voters. "I mean, I understand the big picture of America. But he hasn't done that."
An aide to John McCain said Keating was not directed by the campaign to make the comments.
"We didn’t ask him to do it,” the aide said. “He didn’t clear it with us, but obviously he’s read Senator Obama’s books.”
The Obama campaign has not responded to the comments.
The remarks ring similar to comments made by prominent New Hampshire Democrat Bill Shaheen, a Hillary Clinton supporter, during the primary. Shaheen, who predicted in December that Obama’s drug past would be a major Republican talking point if her were the Democratic nominee. He later apologized for the comments, but stepped down from his role in the Clinton campaign. Black Entertainment Television founder Bob Johnson, another Hillary Clinton backer, also had to apologize after making overt references to Obama's drug use at campaign rally in South Carolina.
In Obama's 1995 book Dreams of My Father, he writes that he was once headed in the direction of a "junkie" and a "pothead. Referring to his emotional struggles as a young man, Obama writes, "Pot had helped, and booze; maybe a little blow when you could afford it. Not smack, though."
Obama did speak during his primary campaign about his past experimentation with drugs and alcohol in high school.
"I made some bad decisions that I've actually written about," he told New Hampshire high school students last November. "There were times when I, you know, got into drinking, experimented with drugs. There was a whole stretch of time where I didn't really apply myself a lot."
The remarks ring similar to comments made by prominent New Hampshire Democrat Bill Shaheen, a Hillary Clinton supporter, during the primary. Shaheen predicted in December that Obama’s drug past would be a major Republican talking point if her were the Democratic nominee. He later apologized for the comments, but stepped down from his role in the Clinton campaign. Black Entertainment Television founder Bob Johnson, another Hillary Clinton backer, also had to apologize after making overt references to Obama's drug use at campaign rally in South Carolina.
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.
(CNN) - Sen. John McCain sharpened his attacks against Sen. Barack Obama on Thursday, saying he'd rather give a speech in Germany as president than as a presidential candidate.
Obama was in Berlin for the latest leg of an international trip intended to bolster his foreign policy credentials at home and set out his vision for a new era of transatlantic cooperation.
Watch: McCain says he'd prefer to speak in Germany as President
McCain was campaigning Thursday in Ohio, focusing on health care.
Speaking to reporters outside Schmidt's Restaurant and Banquet Haus, a German eatery in Columbus, Ohio, McCain responded to Obama's Berlin speech, which attracted large crowds at the Victory Column.
Watch: McCain discusses Obama's Berlin speech
"Well, I'd love to give a speech in Germany ... a political speech or a speech that maybe the German people would be interested in," he said. "But I would much prefer to do it as president of the United States rather than as a candidate for the office of the presidency."
BETHLEHEM, Pennsylvania (CNN) – John McCain defended comments he made in an interview on Tuesday when he incorrectly argued that the surge in Iraq gave way to the so-called “Anbar Awakening” – when Sunni leaders joined forces with U.S. troops to fight Al Qaeda in the fall of 2006.
The Arizona senator told reporters Wednesday afternoon that when he refers to the surge, it encompasses not just the January 2007 increase in troop levels but also the counter-insurgency that started in Iraq’s Al Anbar province months prior.
“A surge is really a counter-insurgency strategy, and it’s made up of a number of components,” McCain said. “This counter-insurgency was initiated to some degree by Colonel McFarland in Anbar province, relatively on his own.”
“General Petraeus said that the surge would not have worked, and the Anbar Awakening would not have taken place, successfully, if they hadn’t had an increase in the number of troops,” McCain added.
Watch McCain slam Obama on Iraq.
(CNN) - After Barack Obama spoke out against the surge again Tuesday, John McCain's campaign responded by repeating athe charge that the Illinois senator favors “unconditional withdrawal.”
Earlier: Obama: Stability in hands of Iraqis
“By continuing his opposition to the surge strategy long after it has proven successful and by admitting that his plan for withdrawal places him at odds with General David Patraeus, Barack Obama has made clear that his goal remains unconditional withdrawal rather than securing the victory our troops have earned and the surge has made possible," McCain spokesman Tucker Bounds said.
The McCain campaign is also conducting a conference call with Rep. Heather Wilson, Sen. Sam Brownback, and McCain adviser Randy Scheunemann to keep up the pressure on Obama.
Listen: McCain surrogates target Obama over his Iraq policy
UPDATE: McCain himself also took a swipe at Obama over his Iraq policy at a New Hampshire town hall Tuesday.
"You might recall that Senator Obama, my opponent, said the surge would not succeed, that he wanted us out. If he had his way, we'd been out last March. .. We would have had defeat," he said. "And my friends, that would have been a catastrophe for the United States of America. He was wrong then, he's wrong now and he still failed to acknowledge that the surge succeeded ... remarkable, remarkable. "
WASHINGTON (CNN) - The Straight Talk Express - perhaps the most visible symbol of Arizona Sen. John McCain's presidential campaign - is taking to the skies.
The Republican Party's presumptive nominee will unveil his new campaign airplane on Monday: a Boeing 737-400.
The aircraft shares its name with McCain's ever-present campaign bus, which has been a staple of the candidate's 2000 and 2008 campaigns.
The 95-seat plane - with seats for the candidate, his staffers and the press - has the "Straight Talk Express" logo emblazoned on its fuselage.