Campaign Notebook

Jackson's remarks on Israel draw rebuke from Obama camp

October 16, 2008
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Jesse Jackson, a key figure in the older generation of black political leaders, has not been exactly helpful to Barack Obama at the vanguard of the new generation of African-American leadership.

There have been tensions between the two during the campaign. In July Jackson, who sought the presidency himself in 1984 and 1988, apologized and was rebuked by his son after accusing Obama of "talking down to black people" and using a vulgarity in the process.

Yesterday, Republican John McCain's campaign jumped on comments that Jackson reportedly made that could renew concerns for Jewish voters, whom Obama has struggled to win over.

Jackson said that as president Obama would bring "fundamental changes" in US foreign policy, most significantly in the Middle East, New York Post columnist Amir Taheri reported. "Jackson believes that, although 'Zionists who have controlled American policy for decades' remain strong, they'll lose a great deal of their clout when Barack Obama enters the White House."

In a statement, Randy Scheunemann, McCain's senior foreign policy adviser asserted: "It should not surprise anyone that Obama's supporters see what others, from the terrorist group Hamas to Iranian President [Mahmoud] Ahmadinejad, have seen: an Obama presidency would bring real change to America's policy of support for Israel."

Obama spokeswoman Wendy Morigi responded that Jackson "is not an adviser to the Obama campaign and is therefore in no position to interpret or share Barack Obama's views on Israel and foreign policy. As he has made clear throughout his career and throughout this campaign, Barack Obama has a fundamental commitment to a strong US-Israel relationship."

According to the Associated Press, Jackson issued his own statement, saying the column was slanted "to incite fear and division."


Secret Service checking into threat against Obama
WASHINGTON - The Secret Service said yesterday it is looking into a second allegation that a participant at a Republican political rally threatened Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama.

The Scranton Times-Tribune reported that someone in the crowd shouted "Kill him," after the mention of Obama's name during a rally Tuesday for GOP vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin in Scranton, Pa.

Last week The Washington Post reported a similar incident during a Palin rally in Clearwater, Fla. The Secret Service investigated that allegation, but agents listening to tapes said they heard shouts of "Tell him," but never heard "Kill him," said Secret Service spokesman Eric Zahren.


McCain ranch gets a cellphone tower
John McCain, a senior member of the Senate committee that oversees the telecommunications industry, now has cellphone coverage at the family's ranch near Sedona, Ariz., after a request from his wife, Cindy.

The Washington Post reported the story on its website yesterday, and McCain's presidential campaign denounced the report in the hours before the final presidential debate.

"This story is a disgrace," said McCain campaign spokesman Brian Rogers. "The McCains went through the process that is available to anybody who subscribes to one of these cellphone companies to inquire about getting service."

The two cellular companies most often used by the campaign staff, Verizon Wireless and AT&T, provided the coverage at the ranch, which is in a remote canyon where reception is difficult.

In June, Verizon delivered a portable tower free of charge to the ranch property after an online request from Cindy McCain's staff in 2007. The mobile tower is ordinarily reserved for restoring service during emergencies.

AT&T brought in a tower in July.


Obama ad bumps World Series on Fox
For those who believe there's nothing more American than baseball and inclined to be suspicious of Barack Obama, this might be more grist for the he-isn't-patriotic-enough mill.

Several media outlets reported last night that Fox and Major League Baseball have agreed to delay the start of Game 6 of the World Series so that Fox can join CBS and NBC in airing an unusual half-hour ad for Obama on Oct. 29, six days before the election.

Republicans immediately tried to put that spin on it. "It's unfortunate that the World Series' first pitch is being delayed for Obama's political pitch. Not only is Obama putting politics before principle, he's putting it before our national pastime," Republican National Committee spokesman Alex Conant said.

The start time of the game will be pushed back from 8:20 p.m. to 8:38 p.m., eight minutes after Obama's commercial. Of course, one team might have won the Fall Classic in four or five games, making the sixth game - and the issue - moot.


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