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Political Scene

- - Wednesday, November 24, 2010

WHITE HOUSE

Obama spares holiday turkeys

President Obama performed an annual rite of presidents on Wednesday, pardoning a pair of turkeys on Thanksgiving Eve and cracking jokes about the competition that brought them to his famous doorstep.

"For the record, let me say that it feels pretty good to stop at least one shellacking this November," Obama said in the White House Rose Garden, where he was flanked by daughters Malia and Sasha. A "shellacking" is how Mr. Obama described the beating Democrats suffered in elections earlier this month; the party lost control of the House and saw its Senate majority trimmed by six seats.

Apple and Cider, two 21-week-old, 45-pound turkeys raised on a farm outside Modesto, Calif., were plucked from a group of 25 birds during a competition "that involved strutting their stuff before a panel of judges, with an eclectic mix of music playing in the background," Mr. Obama said.

He called it a "turkey version" of "Dancing With the Stars," the program that crowned its newest winner Tuesday night.

"Except the stakes for the contestants was much higher," Mr. Obama said, laughing. "Only one pair would survive and win the big prize. Life."

MEMOIR

Bush book sales top 1.1 million

George W. Bush has joined Bill Clinton and Barack Obama in an exclusive club: presidential authors who have sold at least 1 million copies of their books.

The Crown Publishing Group announced Wednesday that Mr. Bush's memoir, "Decision Points," has sold more than 1.1 million copies. It was released Nov. 9.

More than 135,000 copies were sold as e-books.

Mr. Clinton's "My Life" and two Obama books, "The Audacity of Hope" and "Dreams from My Father," have also sold at least 1 million copies.

All three presidents were published by divisions of Random House Inc.

ALASKA

Miller urged to 'move on'

ANCHORAGE | The Republican who lost the 2008 U.S. Senate race in Minnesota after a prolonged recount says Alaska's Senate race is over and GOP candidate Joe Miller should move on.

Former Sen. Norm Coleman told C-SPAN that there is not much to be gained by extending the process.

Sen. Lisa Murkowski, Alaska Republican, mounted a write-in bid after losing the primary to Mr. Miller. She declared victory after a write-in count showed her with a 10,328-vote lead, a total that includes 8,159 contested ballots. Mr. Miller is challenging the outcome in court.

Mr. Coleman told C-SPAN that "you have to have some finality to these things. It should be time to move on."

C-SPAN provided excerpts of Mr. Coleman's interview ahead of "Newsmakers" airing Sunday.

WHITE HOUSE

Obama doesn't focus on Palin

President Obama says he respects Sarah Palin's political skills but hasn't thought about the possibility of facing her in the 2012 presidential election.

Mr. Obama said Mrs. Palin "has a strong base of support in the Republican Party," but that he spends most of his time focused on being "the best possible president."

In an interview taped Wednesday with ABC's Barbara Walters, the president said that if he does a good job "the politics will take care of itself."

Mrs. Palin, the 2008 Republican vice-presidential nominee, said last week that she's considering a presidential run. When asked whether she thought she could defeat Mr. Obama, the former Alaska governor replied, "I believe so."

NEW JERSEY

Governor jokes on late-night TV

TRENTON | Gov. Chris Christie said again that he's not planning to run for president in 2012 and suggested that Sarah Palin won't get the job, either.

The New Jersey governor talked politics in an interview on NBC's "Late Night with Jimmy Fallon" that aired early Wednesday morning.

The host asked the Republican whether he might run for the White House - a question that's been asked a lot in recent months as Mr. Christie has become a major attraction on the campaign trail across the country.

He said there's "no chance" he would run in 2012 and that he's not interested in running for vice president, either.

Mr. Fallon asked him whether Mrs. Palin could do it.

Mr. Christie responded, to some audience chuckles: "Be vice president?"

Mr. Fallon clarified that he meant president.

Mr. Christie didn't exactly endorse her. "It's a crazy world," he said.

Mr. Christie, who is a regular on news talk shows but hadn't appeared on any comedic talk shows, was invited after he and Mr. Fallon exchanged barbs on Twitter.

It began when Mr. Fallon joked about Mr. Christie killing a plan to build a rail tunnel connecting New York and New Jersey. Mr. Fallon said the only way people will get to the Garden State will remain "by accident."

When he repeated the line on the show, Mr. Christie gave him a hard stare, then deadpanned a joke of his own, evoking his state's gangster image: "You think it's funny, Jimmy? You know what we do to people like that in New Jersey, Jimmy?"

INTERIOR

Feds set aside 'critical habitat'

The Obama administration is setting aside 187,000 square miles in Alaska as a "critical habitat" for polar bears, an action that could add restrictions to future offshore drilling for oil and gas.

The total, which includes large areas of sea ice off the Alaska coast, is about 13,000 square miles, or 8.3 million acres, less than in a preliminary plan released last year.

Tom Strickland, assistant interior secretary for fish, wildlife and parks, said the designation would help polar bears stave off extinction, recognizing that the greatest threat is the melting of Arctic sea ice caused by climate change.

"This critical habitat designation enables us to work with federal partners to ensure their actions within its boundaries do not harm polar bear populations," Mr. Strickland said. "We will continue to work toward comprehensive strategies for the long-term survival of this iconic species."

Designation of critical habitat does not in itself block economic activity or other development, but requires federal officials to consider whether a proposed action would adversely affect the polar bear's habitat and interfere with its recovery.