Along with a rising chorus of calls from all sectors of the political arena, President-Elect Barack Obama beseeched Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich to resign after his arrest on political corruption charges Tuesday night.

ap_blagojevich_081209_mnBlagojevich, A Democrat elected in 2002,  was arrested on a 76-page criminal complaint of trying to secure donations or jobs in exchange  for Obama’s vacated Senate seat.  He is also charged with  withholding funding for a children’s hospital until one of his executives would write a $50,000 check, as well as intimidating the Chicago Tribune into firing editorial writers who criticized him.

According to the criminal complaint against Blagojevich, the governor and his Chief of Staff, John Harris, plotted to sell Obama’s senate seat for a high paying job, promises of campaign funds, a Cabinet post or ambassadorship or corporate board seats for Blagojevich’s wife, Patricia.

Although the governor had known for at least three years previously that he was under investigation for alleged hiring fraud and was being monitored, a majority of the evidence against Blagojevich was gathered after the governor was overheard discussing his plans.

“I’ve got this thing and it’s (expletive) golden,” prosecutors quoted Blagojevich as saying about the Senate appointment on federal bugs in his campaign office and wiretaps on his home telephone, “and I’m just not giving it up for (expletive) nothing. I’m not gonna do it.”

Although the governor has not been indicted, several state lawmakers have called for him to step down. Obama spokesman Robert Gibbs said Wednesday that the president-elect agrees with the call for the governor’s resignation and that a special election should be called in order to fill the vacant Senate seat.

While the Obama campaign has been free from controversy thus far, the Blagojevich scandal has major news organizations wondering whether it will taint the president-elect’s administration.

“There’s no indication that Obama was aware of Blagojevich’s alleged attempts to use the governor’s power to appoint Obama’s replacement for financial gain,” U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald said. “The complaint by prosecutors makes no allegation against Obama or any of his aides and advisers.”

And while it looks as though the scandal may not taint the Obama administration significantly, political scientists are speculating that it may cause a distraction, especially during inauguration week.

“For Obama, this is like a case of the hives — it emerges suddenly and is very annoying but is not fatal,” American University political historian Allan Lichtman said. “It’s not something he wanted and not something he needs, but he can still do his job.”

Advertisements

Two white supremacists accused of plotting to kill United States President-elect Barack Obama and 88 other black people  have pleaded not guilty to federal charges in Tennessee.

081028-cowart-hmed-6ah21Although originally arrested on firearms and conspiracy charges on Oct. 22, Daniel Cowart, 20, of Tennessee, and Paul Schlesselman, 18, of Arkansas, were charged again in a superseding indictment on Nov. 20 with civil rights conspiracy, damage to religious property and use of a firearm during a crime of violence. They are being held without bond.

According to testimony by Cowart and Schlesselman, the two men met on-line sometime in early September and became fast friends “through a mutual hatred of other races.” They quickly turned their hatred into action, planning to kill 88 random, black U.S. citizens, including Obama. An Obama spokeswoman traveling with the President-elect had no immediate comment.

The men also planned on beheading 14 of their 88 victims due to a set of white supremacist beliefs set down by imprisoned leader David Lane, Cowart told Tennessee judges. Lane created the 14 word phrase, “We must secure the existence of our people and a future for white children,” which has become symbolic in neo-Nazi culture. Schlesselman went on to explain that 88 victims were chosen because the number 88 is a neo-Nazi symbol that stands for “Heil Hitler” because H is the 8th letter of the alphabet and two consecutive H’s are the code for the Nazi cry. 28plot_190

The killing spree was initially set down to target a predominately black school, which was not identified in court documents. It was to end with Cowart and Schlesselman – dressed in white tuxedos and top hats – blasting guns from the windows of a speeding vehicle aimed at Obama, authorities said. Both men said they expected to die in the attack.

Cowart and Schlesselman were originally arrested on Oct. 22 in Crockett County, Tennessee after they wrote “numerous racially motivated words and symbols,” including a swastika, on the exterior of Cowart’s car with chalk, the Crockett County sheriff’s deputies said. An assortment of firearms were found in Cowart’s home during the arrest, which led the Sheriff’s department to turn the men over to federal authorities.

“Even if they were just to try it, it would be a trail of tears around the South,” Nashville Special Agent Jim Cavanaugh said. “Whether or not they had the capability or the wherewithal to carry out an attack remains to be seen.”

Although President-elect Barack Obama and Sen. Hillary Clinton spent much of this year’s political season at odds, it seems the Democratic powerhouses have chosen to put differences aside in order to work for a brighter American future.

0_61_320_111708_greta_obama_clintonAccording to Senior Clinton Adviser Phillipe Reines on Friday, discussions are “very much on track” for the former first lady to become Obama’s Secretary of State nominee. Although she has not officially accepted the job offer, she did meet with Obama late last week in Chicago for days of negotiations.

“We’re still in discussions, which are very much on track. Any reports beyond that are premature,” Reines said in a statement. “They’re just talking about the state of the world and what’s next.”

Friends close to Clinton said the potential loss of independence caused Clinton to waver during negotiations with the president-elect. But advisers said discussions got back on track after Obama promised she would have considerable input on staffing decisions and an ample amount of access to him.

As Secretary of State, Clinton would work as the head of the United States Department of State, which is specifically focused on foreign affairs – one of the New York Senator’s most notable strengths. The secretary also serves as a principal adviser to the president in the determination of United States government overseas, including the overall direction, coordination and supervision of interdepartmental activities.

But even without the enhanced discussion time, analysts are claiming the Clinton saga is proving to be one the longest-running and more public of the secret search for Obama’s cabinet.

And though speculation runs rampant, it is not clear when Obama intends to make a formal announcement concerning his Secretary of State. However, officials from both Democrats have said they have every reason to believe Obama will announce her as his choice shortly after Thanksgiving.

In a historic triumph celebrated across all regions of the globe, Barack Obama was elected the nation’s first black president on Tuesday night.

obama9The son of a black father from Kenya and a white mother from Kansas, the Democratic senator from Illinois captured the victory from Sen. John McCain in a string of wins in hard-fought battleground states, including Ohio, Florida, Virginia and Iowa. Final tallies eventually declared Obama the election winner with 364 electoral votes, over McCain’s 162 votes. 270 electoral votes are needed to win the presidency.

And with state after state being called for the Hawaiian-born Obama throughout the night, McCain eventually called the new president-elect roughly around 11 p.m. in order to concede defeat – and end his own 10 year quest for the White House.

“In a contest as long and difficult as this campaign has been, his success alone commands my respect for his ability and perseverance,” McCain said to crowds outside of a luxury hotel in Pheonix. “But that he managed to do so by inspiring the hopes of so many millions of Americans who had once wrongly believed that they had little at stake or little influence in the election of an American president is something I deeply admire and commend him for achieving.”

As the 44th president of the United States, Obama will move into the Oval Office as leader of a country that is deemed in recession and fighting two long wars – one in Iraq, the other in Afghanistan. As a result, Obama declared his first order of business as president will be to focus on the failing economy. He has also promised to withdraw most U.S. combat troops from Iraq within 16 months.

“We are facing the greatest economic challenge of our lifetime. We will have to act swiftly to resolve it,” Obama said on Friday, with members of his heavy-hitting team of economic advisors standing behind him. “Immediately after I become president, I will confront this economic crisis head-on by taking all necessary steps to ease the credit crisis, help hardworking families, and restore growth and prosperity.’’

Obama went on to call on Congress and the Bush administration to pass another economic stimulus package similar to the one passed in the beginning of October. If an agreement cannot be reached under the current administration, Obama said it will be his chief goal when he takes office on Jan. 20.

With the election only 9 days away, presidential nominees Barack Obama and John McCain and vice-presidential nominees Sarah Palin and Joe Biden have battled for an assortment of endorsements across the United States.

And though it’s typical for the nominees to win over a majority of the major endorsement titles from their own states, Palin’s home state newspaper – The Anchorage Daily News – has decided to endorse Obama instead.

The newspaper, which is the largest in the state, said on Sunday that Obama “brings far more promise to the office. In a time of grave economic crisis, he displays thoughtful analysis, enlists wise council and operates with a cool, steady hand.”

The Daily News went on to note Obama has a firmer grasp on the economic meltdown, and that with the Hawaiian-born Senator in office, the chances of turning around the failing economy are more promising.

And though the paper did acknowledge Palin’s success as the governor of Alaska, they feel few would argue with the fact that the fun-loving hockey mom is not ready to step into the political arena.

But the ultimate decision to endorse Obama was not made based solely on Palin’s incompetency to deal with the presidential seat, according to the paper. Instead, The Daily News said McCain’s inability to handle questions centered around the economic downturn influenced their decision.

“Gov. Palin’s nomination clearly alters the landscape for Alaskans as we survey this race for the presidency — but it does not overwhelm all other judgment,” the paper said. “The election, after all is said and done, is not about Sarah Palin, and our sober view is that her running mate, Sen. John McCain, is the wrong choice for president at this critical time for our nation.”

After being declared the unanimous winner of all three presidential debates by 53 percent of uncommitted voters, Sen. Barack Obama is also on the verge of being named  the victor in the battle over advertising spending.

With advertisements running repeatedly day and night, on local stations and on major and niche broadcast networks, on video games and on his own dedicated satellite channels, Obama is now outadvertising Sen. John McCain nationwide by a ratio of at least four to one, according to  political advertising monitor CMAG. That difference is even larger in several closely contested states, such as Ohio, and in the next few days, Obama is expected to announce he has raised more than $1 million in September – a figure which would eradicate the $188 million fund-raising record set by President Bush in the general election four years ago.

The huge advantage Obama has been able to take over McCain is largely due to Obama’s decision to leave behind the federal campaign finance system, which gives presidential nominees $84 million in public money. The system also prohibits candidates from spending any amount above that from their party convention to Election Day. And while Obama has left the program behind, McCain has participated in the federal campaign finance system throughout his campaign, spending $91 million on advertising since he won the Republican nomination.

But the amount Obama has spend on ads – specifically on those deemed negative ads – has not bypassed McCain or his aides. During last week’s third and final presidential debate, the two nominees clashed about the advertising battle, with Obama saying, “[McCain’s] ads, 100 percent of them have been negative,” and McCain responding by saying that “Senator Obama has spent more money on negative ads than any political campaign in history.”

According to an analysis of this years presidential ads by the University of Wisconsin from Sept. 24 through Oct. 4, nearly 80 percent of McCain’s advertising contained a personal attack on Obama, with 34 percent of Obama’s ads containing negative remarks about McCain.

Based on the results of the findings, McCain’s campaign strategy seems to be focused on trying to make Obama unacceptable in the eyes of undecided voters. But with a majority of Obama’s ads being seen as positive – as well as his overall message for the nation – it will take much more than a few commercials to break Obama’s presidential lead.

Although previous Democratic presidential nominees have often bypassed voters categorized as religious, Sen. Barack Obama has made it his mission to focus on monthly churchgoers in an effort to reach out to a wide category of potential voters.

Sen. Barack Obama talks with married pastors Katherine and Lars Olson and son Carl Olson, 11 months, after attending church at St. Lukes Lutheran Church in Lima, Ohio.

Sen. Barack Obama talks with married pastors Katherine and Lars Olson and son Carl Olson, 11 months, after attending church at St. Luke's Lutheran Church in Lima, Ohio.

According to an Oct. 8 survey released by the nonpartisan group Faith in Public Life, voters who attend religious services one to two times a month are supporting Democratic nominee Obama by 60 percent. This is up from the 49 percent of religious voters who supported Sen. John Kerry in 2004.

“The fact that he’s getting 60 percent of those voters shows that there has been a movement overall in the last four years in terms of Democratic outreach with religious Americans,” Author Amy Sullivan said. Sullivan’s latest book, “The Party Faithful,” examines Democrats’ outreach to religious voters.

The survey, which polled 2,000 churchgoers between the ages of 18 and 34, reinforced the fact that Obama’s campaign has done a surprisingly effective job at reaching out to non-traditional voters, including groups that have historically been ignored by Democratic nominees.

And though a majority of the religious voters who will be backing Obama on Nov. 4 chose him based on his message of change, the survey revealed that a generational divide did exist between younger and older churchgoers in terms of the Democratic platforms that interested them. While older voters are more concerned with peace and prosperity in the face of the current economic crisis, the survey showed that younger voters are concerned with a more active government and less conservative views on gay rights and same-sex marriage.

Although high school and college students of voting age are often seen as apathetic when it comes to both city and national elections, Democrat Barack Obama’s campaign has seemed to spur them into action.

According to the results of a recent USA Today/Gallup Poll, Obama now leads Republican John McCain by 61-32 percent among registered voters under 30. These young voters also were responsible for his initial victory in the Iowa caucuses at the beginning of the year, saying that they see Obama as more optimistic, more independent and more likely to unite the country rather than divide it. According to the poll, younger voters also saw Obama as a more inspirational leader and someone who understands the problems of their age group.

And though Obama has been able to spur the younger generations of America into taking an interest in the national election, McCain has successfully reached out to their parents and grandparents. The Republican nominee leads Obama among seniors 65 and older by four percentage points. McCain holds the most clout among war veterans and retirees.

At this point, Gallup shows a 30 point swing between the votes of the nations youngest and oldest voters.

“I don’t think there’s ever been anything quite like this in terms of the margin among young voters being so different from the patterns among other voters,” Scott Keeter of the Pew Research Center said.

The survey was conducted by phone and interviewed 903 younger voters nationwide. 75 percent of younger voters said they are registered to vote with three out of four saying they plan to vote – 30 percent of them for the first time. Although one in five said they have not settled on a specific candidate yet, among those who say their votes are certain, Obama leads 53 percent to 25 percent.

While the upcoming presidential election may have caused tension and competition in the Democratic party early on in the season, former nominee Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton is now putting all efforts into guaranteeing a Democratic seat in the White House come November.

Although many of Clinton’s still rallying supporters have spoken out negatively concerning Barack Obama’s winning nominee, the Senator herself is now recruiting her backers to help Obama in any way possible.

Focusing primarily on her primary season partisans in an outreach named “Hillary Sent Me,” Clinton urged her supporters to become directly involved in Obama’s campaign by traveling to a specific battleground state each weekend, beginning with New Hampshire on Sept. 27. Clinton herself has already campaigned for Obama in Ohio, Florida, Nevada and New Mexico and has raised over $5 million for the presidential nominee.

“Today I am asking all of you to stand up, hit the road and spread the word that we must elect Barack Obama president and we must send a filibuster-proof majority to Congress,” Clinton told supporters in a conference call Friday. “This is a call to action. This is a must-do. We all have a role. And there is not a moment to lose.”

As many as 2,000 supporters from all 50 states participated in the conference call – which is hopefully proof that Clinton strongholds are willing to support the only other Democratic candidate left in the race for the White House.

If Clinton supporters who may still be sore over her loss to Obama in the primary contest are willing to put the epic battle behind them – as the former First Lady herself is trying to do – Obama’s triumph in battleground states may not be as questionable as Republican voters hope.