McCain and Obama flacks share shots — of alcohol

Spokesmen for the Barack Obama and John McCain campaigns may take plenty of shots at each other during the day, but that doesn’t mean they can’t share a drink together at night.

Obama spokesman Tommy Vietor and McCain spokesman Tucker Bounds were seen downing shots, posing for photographs and chatting extensively at a Minneapolis party on the sidelines of the Republican National Convention.

Both made it clear they can sometimes leave politics at the door.

“Tommy’s a good guy,” Bounds wrote in an e-mail when asked about the bipartisan partying. “Truthfully, every Obama staffer I’ve ever met has been nothing but respectful and friendly — Tommy is a classic example of that.”

Vietor took a slightly different approach.

“Lies and distortions,” Vietor joked in an e-mail. “People from different political parties cannot hang out and put politics aside for a night. That would be an outrage.”

Bounds and Vietor were seen at a party co-sponsored by the Distilled Spirits Council, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and The Hill. It’s one of dozens of parties and receptions taking place in the Twin Cities during the convention.

Bounds might have needed the shot; he had a tough exchange on CNN with anchor Campbell Brown earlier in the day.

In the e-mail, he indicated that while he and Vietor might differ on taxes, energy policy and the war in Iraq, there are some things only another flack for a presidential candidate can understand.

“On the campaign trail, we share some things in common, like political differences — but most notably sleep deprivation,” he said.


 
Sighting: Jon Voight chatting on radio row and at the St. Paul Grill

Actor Jon Voight was spotted on radio row of the Xcel Energy Center on Tuesday morning, walking and talking with reporters about the first day of the convention and praising Republicans for putting hurricane relief ahead of partisanship.

Sporting a dark pinstripe suit, no tie, with a blue button-down shirt, Voight later dined two blocks away in the Saint Paul Hotel’s upscale restaurant, the St. Paul Grill. He was tucked away in a booth laughing and tightly hugging a brunette with a Sarah Palin look (the beehive hairdo, solid bangs, dark-framed glasses) as another gentleman sat on the opposite side of the booth.


Weekly Standard editor dines with Palin mid-cruise

Even though he lived in Alaska as a child and had lunch with Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin (R) in Juneau only last July, Fred Barnes was as surprised as anyone that Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) picked her as his vice presidential running mate. He assumed McCain would go with “the default choice,” Gov. Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota.

Barnes, the executive editor of The Weekly Standard and a Fox News commentator, was on an Alaskan cruise when his ship stopped in Juneau, and Palin invited him and his wife along with the magazine’s editor, Bill Kristol, and his wife and sister to lunch at the governor’s mansion.

“I had never laid eyes on her before,” Barnes said as he waited for Palin to deliver her acceptance speech last Wednesday night. “But she struck me as extremely smart and very careful. I called her later for a piece I was writing for The Wall Street Journal, and asked her about her religious views. She gave me a very careful answer. It was clear that she is an evangelical Christian.”

Barnes, who attended grade school in Alaska in the 1950s when his father was in the Air Force and based at Elmendorf Air Force Base, recalled that Palin introduced him to her children; her husband was not there.

While Barnes was shocked with McCain’s pick, Kristol was not. Kristol, who is also a Fox News commentator, publicly predicted Palin would be selected. But Kristol has not been perfect this election cycle, saying Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) would pick Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine as his running mate. He also cited sources saying that former Secretary of State Colin Powell would endorse Obama and speak at the Democratic convention.


A blast from the past

 
Former Rep. J.D. Hayworth (R-Ariz.) looked very much the consummate politician Tuesday morning as he shook hands and chatted people up in the lobby of the regal Saint Paul Hotel, just two blocks from the Xcel Energy Center. Hayworth is a radio correspondent for Phoenix’s XFY.

“Well, it’s kind of like back to the future,” he said, in his smooth radio voice that makes him perpetually sound as though he’s on the air.

Asked what he thought of Alaskan Gov. Sarah Palin (R), he remarked, “As someone told me, now we have a reason to vote for McCain instead of against Obama.”

Ouch. So much for Republican support for McCain.
 

Huckabee does impressions

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee was a jokester on the presidential campaign trail, impressing voters and the media daily with his quick wit.

Turns out he’s an impressionist, too.

Huckabee was making an analogy Tuesday in St. Paul between fighting obesity and wearing seatbelts. With both, he said, you have to make people aware before government can act.

Then he strapped on an exaggerated Southern accent and introduced a cleverly disguised Arkansan auto mechanic who sounds like Larry the Cable Guy.

The mechanic is asked to install a seatbelt in a car at a time in history before such things were commonplace.

“He’d look at you and say, ‘You wan’ do what?’ ” Huckabee said, emphasizing the h in “what.” “ ‘You wanna put a strap in yer car to hold yerself in? Have you lost yer mind?’ ”
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TK asked Huckabee’s spokeswoman whether the impression was meant to be Larry the Cable Guy, the famously uncouth redneck. But we didn’t hear back by press time.