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July 28th, 2008
02:06 PM ET

Obama’s overseas trip change your opinion of him?

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Sen. Barack Obama delivering a speech to thousands in front of Victory Column in Berlin, Germany. (PHOTO CREDIT: GETTY IMAGES)

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:
Barack Obama's overseas trip was almost flawless. It's the first time in eight years an American politician was greeted so enthusiastically overseas. We saw foreign citizens waving American flags instead of burning them or having the host country's military holding back angry protesters.

And, while Obama was away shoring up his foreign policy credentials overseas, it seems the trip turned out to be devastating for John McCain. He spent the week stumbling around the U.S. making gaffes about foreign policy, which is supposed to be his strong suit.

We heard McCain refer to the nonexistent "Iraq-Pakistan border," he got his timing wrong on the surge and the Sunni awakening against Al Qaeda, he called Iraq "the first major conflict since 9-11." I guess Afghanistan doesn't count. And, are you ready? McCain acknowledged that 16 months for a U.S. troop withdrawal from Iraq is quote "a pretty good timetable." Go figure. And of course it's ironic that it was John McCain who kept urging Barack Obama to go overseas in the first place.

Obama did take some heat for canceling plans to visit wounded troops at a U.S. base in Germany. He probably should have gone.

Nonetheless, the polls are reflecting just how good a week it was for Barack Obama. CNN's Poll of Polls now shows Obama leading McCain by 6 points, 45 to 39 percent. And the Gallup daily tracking poll shows Obama jumping ahead of McCain by 9 points.

Here’s my question to you: Did Barack Obama's overseas trip change your opinion of him?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: Barack Obama
July 23rd, 2008
04:51 PM ET

President Bush: 'Wall Street got drunk'

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Click the Play Button to see what Jack and our viewers had to say.(PHOTO CREDIT: GETTY IMAGES)

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

In case you're wondering why our economy is in the toilet, President Bush had the explanation at a closed Republican fund-raiser in Houston last week:

”Wall Street got drunk – it’s one of the reasons I asked you to turn off your TV cameras. It got drunk and now it’s got a hangover. The question is: how long will it sober up.”

The depth of the intellect at the very top of our nation's government is staggering, isn't it? Quite an assessment coming from a reformed alcoholic. The president had apparently requested that those attending the event turn off their cameras, but the comments were recorded and started popping up on Texas news outlets.

The White House grabbed their brooms and immediately began sweeping up after him. They say Mr. Bush was referring to the fact that, "the markets were using very complex financial instruments that had grown up over the years, and when confronted with the shock of this housing downturn, they did not fully understand what the consequences were going to be."

Problem is, that doesn't sound at all like the president saying "Wall Street got drunk." It's that kind of shallowness that has created an appetite in the American public and overseas for someone like Barack Obama.

King Abdullah of Jordan actually cut short his vacation this week so he could meet with Obama. It must be like someone who works in a nursery all week finally getting a chance to have a conversation with an adult.

Here’s my question to you: What do you make of President Bush's assessment that "Wall Street got drunk" when it comes to the ailing economy?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

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Filed under: President George Bush • US Economy
July 23rd, 2008
04:50 PM ET

Why do some Clinton supporters want to derail Obama?

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FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

PUMA is an acronym that stands for "Party Unity My A–." It's the rallying cry for a group of disenchanted Democrats – "PUMAs."

Many are supporters of Hillary Clinton who just can't quite get over the fact that she lost and Barack Obama won.

A humorless group, they accuse the party of rigging the primaries to favor Obama, saying that the DNC unfairly punished Michigan and Florida. Others say Obama isn't qualified enough to be the party's nominee or competent enough to lead the country. But he won, so a majority of Democrats obviously think he is.

Now Clinton called on her supporters to vote for Obama after losing the nomination in June. She is not supporting these PUMAs, and she says the stakes are so high that anyone who voted for her has more in common with Obama than John McCain.

But the PUMAs aren't listening. The head of the group estimates there are 250 PUMA-related web sites and 2.5 million supporters online. They are supposed to hold a conference next month in Washington to plan for the Democratic Convention in Denver in August.

They want Hillary Clinton's name placed in nomination so delegates get a chance to vote. In the "cut off your nose to spite your face" category, we find a bunch of these people who insist that if they aren't successful at the convention – they'll vote for McCain instead of Obama in November.

A recent poll showed more than 4 in 10 Democrats still prefer Clinton as the party's nominee. But, Obama leads McCain in general election polls. And it's likely that as Clinton continues to show her support for Obama, more of her backers will decide to vote for him.

Here’s my question to you: Why do some Hillary Clinton supporters want to derail Barack Obama’s nomination?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: 2008 Election • Barack Obama • Hillary Clinton
July 23rd, 2008
04:45 PM ET

Confident McCain can deal with Iraq?

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FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

John McCain has staked much of his campaign on the war in Iraq and the surge. He tells us every day how he was right about the surge – how the surge was the answer to all our problems in Iraq. Maybe not exactly.

Last night McCain proved his timeline about the surge is all wrong. In an interview on CBS, Katie Couric pointed out that Barack Obama says while the increase in troops helped security, a Sunni awakening and the Shiite government going after the militias before the surge were also major factors in reducing the violence.

McCain replied: "I don't know how you respond to something that is such a false depiction of what actually happened. Colonel McFarland was contacted by one of the major Sunni sheiks. Because of the surge we were able to go out and protect that sheik and others. And it began the Anbar awakening. I mean, that's just a matter of history."

Wrong again, Senator. The Sunni awakening in Anbar happened before President Bush ever announced the surge in January of 2007. In fact, the now-General Sean McFarland briefed the media in September 2006 about tribal leaders who were cooperating with Iraqi security forces against al Qaeda. Several news organizations reported on the Anbar Awakening taking place months before the surge.

Obama's campaign points out that McCain has his facts wrong. McCain's response is the Democrats are trying to minimize the role of our commanders and our troops. But if your campaign for president is built on your assertion that you are most qualified to be commander-in-chief, shouldn't you at least be able to accurately cite the recent history of the war you're asking the voters to put you in charge of?

Here’s my question to you: How much confidence do you have in John McCain's ability to deal with Iraq?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: John McCain
July 22nd, 2008
04:30 PM ET

How can the GOP excite young voters?

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(PHOTO CREDIT: GETTY IMAGES)

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

The next generation of Republicans is not optimistic and is fretting over its inability to connect with younger voters.

The head of the Young Republicans tells the Washington Post his party is "staring down a very long, dark, quiet night." He's probably right. A recent poll shows voters under 30 are more than twice as likely to identify themselves as Democrats. A lot has changed. In 1984, Ronald Reagan won 59 percent of the young vote. In 1992, they were split about evenly between the two parties. But since then, Democrats have gained ground in every election.

Usually the parties don't pay all that much attention to young voters, since they notoriously don't show up to vote. But this election could be different. Record numbers of young people voted in the primaries.

The up-and-coming Republicans also have mixed feelings about John McCain. Some worry he isn't conservative enough on issues like taxes and immigration reform. The head of the Young Republicans talks about how Obama has inspired a whole generation of voters, while McCain hasn't done a good job communicating about issues like the war and economy – causing younger Americans to turn away from the Republican Party.

The head of the Young Republicans thinks the Arizona Senator can still attract young voters by reaching out to them through social networking web sites and by showing his sense of humor through more appearances on late night talk shows.

Here’s my question to you: How can the Republican Party excite young voters?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: 2008 Election • GOP
July 22nd, 2008
04:20 PM ET

How important is McCain's V.P. pick?

 Click the play button to see what Jack and our viewers had to say.

Click the play button to see what Jack and our viewers had to say.

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

Talk is suddenly heating up that John McCain might name his vice presidential partner in the next few days. Sources tell CNN there have been recent discussions high in the campaign of doing so. But there are also a bunch of other ideas on the table: hold off until after Barack Obama has named his V.P. pick, or have McCain name his running mate after the Democratic convention. Campaign sources say all these options have been discussed, but no decisions have been made.

Meanwhile, McCain is scheduled to meet with Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal tomorrow, which could spark more speculation that he's on the short list for vice president. If an announcement comes this week it could grab some of the media attention away from Obama's overseas travels.

Usually little importance is given to vice presidential picks. But some believe that it could be more significant to McCain's campaign because of his age – he'll turn 72 next month. The Politico reports McCain's string of verbal slips have some people wondering if these mistakes are due to his age.

Just yesterday McCain talked about the "Iraq-Pakistan" border... Afghanistan shares a border with Pakistan, not Iraq. He recently referred to "Somalia" instead of "Sudan" as well as twice mentioning "Czechoslovakia", a country that hasn't existed for 15 years. Last year McCain referred to "President Putin of Germany”, instead of "Russia”. And of course this spring he confused Sunnis and Shiites while on a trip to the Middle East.

The McCain campaign says Obama has made plenty of his own flubs, and they point out that McCain spends more time than Obama talking off the cuff – taking questions from voters and reporters.

Here’s my question to you: How important is John McCain's V.P. pick?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: 2008 Election • John McCain
July 22nd, 2008
01:37 PM ET

Will Obama’s overseas trip help him in November?

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Barack Obama calls on a reporter during a press conference in Amman, Jordan. (PHOTO CREDIT: GETTY IMAGES)

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

Barack Obama is pitching a shutout so far on his trip overseas.

What might be the most complicated part of his journey – into the war zone in Iraq and Afghanistan – seems to have gone off without a hitch. In fact, Obama couldn't have hoped for better timing – with Nuri al-Maliki's government choosing the day he was in Iraq to say that U.S. troops should be out of his country by 2010. That's a date that matches up perfectly with Obama's plan to remove troops within 16 months of when he would take office. And it gives Obama much more credibility on foreign policy, an area where critics say he lacks experience.

Obama is visiting Jordan, Israel and the Palestinian territories before he goes on to Europe. Meanwhile, his campaign is trying to play down the role of politics in his travels, painting it as a listening tour. But The Politico points out that's kind of tricky to do when you consider the stagecraft and planning that's going into some of these events. Take for example Obama's speech scheduled Thursday in Berlin, which could draw tens of thousands of people. The campaign, which insists the speech is "not for campaign purposes," might get film crews to shoot it – perhaps for a TV commercial. He's on the cover of Der Spiegel magazine under the headline: Germany meets the superstar.

As for John McCain, Obama's overseas adventures may have turned into a case of "be careful what you wish for." McCain badgered Obama for weeks to go, particularly to Iraq, and now Obama is sucking up all of the media attention and and generally getting rave reviews.

Here’s my question to you: How will Barack Obama's overseas trip affect his chances of winning the election?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: 2008 Election • Barack Obama
July 21st, 2008
04:57 PM ET

Did Gramm wait too long to resign from McCain campaign?

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FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

When politicians release information late on Friday afternoons, it's because they hope you won't see it over the weekend.

So it was late last Friday when John McCain's campaign co-chairman Phil Gramm quit. A former Texas Senator, Gramm called us a "nation of whiners" and said we are in a "mental recession." Gramm was also serving as an economic advisor to McCain.

McCain distanced himself from the remarks, but the damage was done. Democrats said it's another example of how out-of-touch John McCain is with the average American. McCain had already told us the economy isn't his strong suit. Phil Gramm's comments sort of proved it.

Gramm said he was quitting in order to "end this distraction” – saying it hurt McCain's ability to focus on the issues. What it hurt was John McCain's credibility when he claims to have the answers to our economic problems. Besides, Americans don't like being called whiners.

But that wasn't the only hand grenade from last Friday. That same day another McCain surrogate came out with an absolutely dumb remark of his own. Colonel Bud Day, who was a POW with McCain in Vietnam and is one of McCain's closest friends, defended the Iraq war policy by saying that "the Muslims have said either we kneel, or they're going to kill us." Republicans spent the rest of Friday trying to explain that Col. Day was talking about Islamic extremists, but that's not what he said. And it's a safe bet a lot of Muslims were not amused.

Here’s my question to you: Did Phil Gramm wait too long to resign as co-chairman of John McCain’s campaign?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: John McCain
July 21st, 2008
04:50 PM ET

Iraqi leader backs Obama’s schedule for withdrawing troops

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Senator Barack Obama meeting with Nouri al-Malaki in Iraq. (PHOTO CREDIT: GETTY IMAGES)

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

While John McCain goes on and on about the surge and winning in Iraq – whatever that means – Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki says Barack Obama has the right idea: get U.S. troops out of his country within 16 months.

Talk about a blow to President Bush and John McCain. President Bush wants everything to be up to him, and John McCain says we could be in Iraq for 100 years. Nuri al-Maliki told the German magazine "Der Spiegel" that he'd like U.S. troops to withdraw "as soon as possible", adding that Barack Obama's talk of 16 months "would be the right time frame for a withdrawal."

The Bush administration immediately said that can't be right: the statement was out of context, it was mistranslated, that isn't what he meant blah blah blah. But the translator for the interview with the German magazine was Nuri al-Maliki's translator. And al-Maliki brought the subject of Barack Obama's timetable up on his own, voluntarily. The New York Times obtained a copy of the audio recording in which al-Maliki stated clear support for Obama's ideas for ending the war. The German magazine says it stands by its interview.

This follows a capitulation by President Bush last week in agreeing to talk to Iran about its nuclear program, something the president said he would never do unless they stopped enriching uranium. McCain, of course, goes along with President Bush, but Obama said all along we should talk to them. What could it hurt?

Here’s my question to you: What does it mean when the Iraqi prime minister endorses Barack Obama’s schedule for getting U.S. troops out of Iraq?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: Barack Obama • Nouri al-Maliki • War in Iraq
July 21st, 2008
02:17 PM ET

Why do many Europeans overwhelmingly prefer Obama?

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(PHOTO CREDIT: AP PHOTO)

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

“The world is waiting to love America again.” That is a quote from a recent editorial in a British newspaper, and many Europeans are hoping Barack Obama will provide them with just that chance. When Obama travels to Europe later this week, it's expected he'll be treated like a rock star – mobbed by cheering fans in Berlin, Paris and London.

A recent poll from England found 70% of Italians, 67% of Germans, 65% of the French and 49% of Britons would vote for Obama. Compare that to Republican John McCain, who gets support from 15% of Italians, 6% of Germans, 8% of the French and 14% in Britain.

Books about Obama are hot sellers in France, and some European newspapers describe him as a "John Kennedy of our times." After eight years of unilateral "my way or the highway" George Bush, Europeans are hungry for the change Obama is offering, especially when it comes to America's role on the world stage.

It's been a long time since the visit by an American politician has been so highly anticipated in Europe. Some European supporters are mindful that too much swooning over Obama could actually hurt the candidate back here in the states. The Illinois senator could be seen as elitist among some working-class voters if he's perceived as being too chummy with the Europeans.

The other caution flag for Obama is his relative inexperience in foreign affairs, which might explain why Obama was careful to point out that this trip was going to mostly be spent listening rather than offering a lot of his own views.

Here’s my question to you: Why do polls indicate four European countries prefer Barack Obama to John McCain by a margin of 5 to1?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: Barack Obama • European Opinion • John McCain
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