Clinton has increased her lead over Obama in New Hampshire according to a new CNN/WMUR poll.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton appears to have lengthened her lead among likely New Hampshire primary voters after last week's debate among Democratic presidential candidates, winning points for being strong, even if she's not necessarily the most likeable, a poll said Monday.
The CNN/WMUR presidential primary poll, conducted by the University of New Hampshire, placed the senator from New York at the front of the pack, supported by 36 percent of likely voters versus 22 percent for Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois, her closest rival. (Read full poll results [PDF])
Since April, Clinton's support has grown by 9 points - from 27 percent, the poll said. Obama's position has grown by just 2 points - from 20 percent - in April.
Most of those increases appear to have come at the expense of Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina, whose support tumbled from 21 percent in April to his current 12 percent.
Former Vice President Al Gore, who has not said he is running, tied Edwards at 12 percent, up from 11 percent in April. And New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson garnered 10 percent, up from 4 percent in April. The rest of the field included Sen. Joseph Biden of Delaware, with 4 percent; Rep. Dennis Kucinich of Ohio, with 1 percent; and Sen. Christopher Dodd of Connecticut and former Sen. Mike Gravel of Alaska, each of whom garnered less than 0.5 percent.
Clinton fell behind when it came to likeability. Asked which candidate is most likeable, likely voters cited Obama (40 percent) nearly three times as often as Clinton (14 percent). Clinton also trailed Edwards (20 percent) while Gore attracted 9 percent and Richardson 6 percent.
But the former first lady fared considerably better when likely voters were asked which candidate is the strongest leader. She led the pack, with 48 percent, followed distantly by Gore and Obama - each with 12 percent - and then Edwards, with 6 percent.
Senate Republicans blocked a resolution of no confidence in Attorney General Alberto Gonzales on a procedural vote Monday.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Senate Republicans blocked a resolution of no confidence in Attorney General Alberto Gonzales on a procedural vote Monday, mustering enough votes to keep the measure off the chamber's floor.
Gonzales has been under fire for months over the 2006 firings of U.S. attorneys in at least eight cities, and several Republican senators have called for him to resign. Seven Republicans joined Democrats in voting to bring the no-confidence resolution to the floor, but the 53-38 vote was short of the three-fifths vote needed.
Senate GOP leaders argued that the Democratic-backed resolution was a waste of time, since Gonzales serves at the pleasure of President Bush. The president restated his support for his longtime friend and aide Monday and dismissed any Senate vote as "meaningless."
Affirming confidence in Cabinet secretaries "is not our job," said Sen. Trent Lott, the Republican whip.
"We don't have authority to make that determination," Lott said. "So what are we going to accomplish today? This is all about partisan politics. No one is fooled by this."
But the measure's principal sponsor, New York Democrat Charles Schumer, noted that none of the GOP leadership voiced support for the attorney general Monday afternoon.
"To vote no when one in fact agrees with the sentiment in the resolution is to cast a vote for the worst political reasons," he said.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - A day before President Bush is to make a rare visit to Capitol Hill to try to salvage the stalled immigration bill, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell raised doubts there are any Republicans he can persuade on the issue.
"I think most senators have pretty well made well made up their minds," McConnell told reporters. "So, we'll be interested in the president's advice but I think this is not an issue upon which many people are undecided."
McConnell's nonchalance about the president's visit was in sharp contrast to Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid who, in a floor speech and a letter to the president, urged "stronger leadership" from the White House to "ensure the opponents of the bill do not block the path to final passage."
Bush has a tall order ahead of him when he joins Republican senators at their weekly policy luncheon in the Capitol. Just seven Republicans voted with 37 Democrats and one independent on the procedural motion that fell well shy of the necessary 60 votes for passage.
ATLANTA, Georgia (CNN ) – Politicians are all too used to reporters’ cell phones interrupting their news conferences. But this time, it was the candidate’s own violation.
Senator John McCain, R-Arizona, was speaking to reporters in Sacramento, California Monday, and was in the middle of an answer on fund-raising when the telltale ring came from his jacket pocket.
The GOP presidential hopeful looked at the number and said, “that’s not my wife, so I won’t answer it.” He then tucked it back in his pocket, and resumed, saying “let me start over. We’re doing better in fund-raising this quarter.”
No word on who dialed the candidate in the middle of his news conference. But we know it wasn’t the White House - McCain wasn’t on the list of three senators that President Bush called Monday from Air Force One.
- CNN's Steve Brusk and Marissa Muller
Richardson is out with his latest "Job Interview" ad to tout his credentials.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson released a third ad Monday in an ongoing series of campaign commercials that use humor to promote the Democratic presidential candidate's credentials.
"This ad was fun to make - watch the ending - you'll see why, but global warming is a serious subject that I think is critically important for the health of our planet," Richardson said in a statement accompanying release of the advertisement Monday. "I think this ad communicates that in a memorable way."
In the ad, Richardson pretends he’s interviewing for the job of president of the United States and he explains the steps he took in New Mexico to help combat global warming. "President Bush doesn't follow the Kyoto Treaty, but my state does. I can do all that as president," he said in the ad.
In response to Richardson’s explanation, the mock employer explains: "But what I asked you was if you were a tree, what kind of tree would you be?"
To date, the United States has refused to ratify the Kyoto Treaty - an international agreement that requires signatories to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to certain target levels. Last week, however, the Bush Administration did agree to “seriously consider” goals to cut such emissions in half by 2050 at the G8 summit in Germany.
Last month, Richardson released two ads showing the governor in the same job interview setting. The ads use sarcasm to emphasize his resume, and in one, the prospective employer says to Richardson: "For what we're looking for, you might be a little over qualified."
The ad started running Monday in broadcast affiliates and cable stations in Iowa and will soon run in New Hampshire.
- CNN Associate Producer Lauren Kornreich
Gonzales said Monday he is not focused on the Senate 'no confidence' vote.
ATLANTA (CNN) – If Attorney General Alberto Gonzales is paying any attention to Monday’s potential no-confidence vote in the Senate, it’s not his “focus”.
Gonzales spoke with reporters twice Monday - once after an appearance in Miami, Florida, and again in Mobile, Alabama – and both times he was decidedly on message, with the buzz word ‘focus”. Gonzales repeated several times as he was pressed on the vote, “I’m not focusing on what the Senate is doing. I’m focusing on what the people of the United States expect of their Attorney General.”
“I am focusing on sprinting to the finish line,” he repeated at both stops. “The department is not going to stumble and crawl to the finish line. The issues we work on are too important.”
- CNN Political Desk Managing Editor Steve Brusk
WASHINGTON, DC (CNN) - Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, said on Monday that his party’s energy bill will cut demand for gas and help lower prices at the pump.
“Our bill will save American consumers tens of billions of dollars annually, cut our oil consumption by more than four million barrels per day and reduce our dependence on foreign energy sources right away. And by the way, we might just save the planet while we're at it,” Reid told reporters Monday. The Democrat from Nevada discussed the Senate Democrats’ energy legislation during a speech at the Center for American Progress, a progressive think tank.
Reid said the Democrats’ plan calls for new cars and trucks to get 35 miles per gallon by the year 2020. To cut down on imported oil, the proposal also requires an increase in the production of ethanol and other renewable fuels used by vehicles in the United States.
And the Senate Majority Leader said the bill gives the government more power to investigate gas prices profiteering, saying “this democratic congress will not hesitate to take action when energy companies gouge the American people."
Oil companies have said there is no price gouging, and accuse Congress of playing politics.
The Senate will begin debate this week on the legislation, Reid said.
The bill, if passed, must be approved by the House before going to the White House. The bill could face a tough time in the Senate. Reid said he’s more worried about the Senate passing the energy bill than the possibility of a presidential veto.
The Senator from Nevada made his comments as gas prices registered their first drop since January. The national average for gasoline dropped 7 cents over the past three weeks, to $3.11 per gallon, according to a national survey by the oil industry analyst Trilby Lundberg.
Regardless, high gas prices remain a major concern for Americans. Fifty-eight percent of Americans surveyed in a recent Gallup poll think gas prices will top four dollars a gallon this summer.
- Deputy Political Director Paul Steinhauser
Bush, who received a hero's welcome in Albania, is hoping he has enough political clout on Capitol Hill to shepherd through the immigration bill.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - President Bush says he’s confident he can still get a win on comprehensive immigration reform, he told reporters in Bulgaria Monday.
“I believe we can get it done. I will see you at the bill signing,” he said.
The President is flying back to Washington after a week-long trip in Europe. While he was away, his immigration bill went down to defeat in the Senate, with only a few Republicans voting in favor of it. With that in mind, Bush is scheduled to go to Capitol Hill on Tuesday to meet with Republican senators regarding the legislation.
The President is not waiting to return to the U.S. to begin his lobbying effort.
“Earlier in this trip I called three members of the Senate from the Republican Party, and I asked them, ‘What can we do to get this bill back up?’” he said. “’What do we need to do to work with senators like Ted Kennedy, who is strongly committed to a comprehensive bill?’ And tomorrow I will be going to the Senate to talk about a way forward on this piece of legislation. It is important that we address this issue now.”
But does the President still have the political clout? CNN combined the most recent presidential approval ratings into a “poll of polls,” and only 32 percent of those questioned approve of the way the president is handling his job.
The Senate bill in question beefs up border security and provides for an eventual pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants.
- CNN Deputy Political Director Paul Steinhauser
Richardson said Monday he is not a "Rock star."
ATLANTA, Georgia (CNN) - Democratic presidential hopeful Bill Richardson admitted that while he is not a rock star, he believes he will be a strong contender in the California presidential primary next year.
“I am not a rock star. I do not have unlimited amounts of money, but I believe I am the most qualified candidate,” the New Mexico Governor said while campaigning in West Hollywood, California Monday.
Given the state’s size, Richardson likened the expense of campaigning in California to what it might cost to cover five states.
Key to winning California will be grassroots support, he said, emphasizing a number of his close ties to the state beyond simply being born in Pasadena.
“I am Hispanic. I have the strongest environmental record and clean energy record. I am talking about issues that effect California like immigration, like transportation,” the White House hopeful said.
On the topic of immigration, Richardson emphasized that the best solution must involve “earned legalization,” adding that Mexico needs to be held accountable for the flow of workers.
“Mexico has to provide more jobs and make more of an effort to take care of their own people,” he said.
- CNN Political Assignment Editor Marissa Muller
Brownback is set for a busy bus tour of Iowa.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Kansas Sen. Sam Brownback announced Monday he'll visit 27 Iowa towns in four days later this month on a bus tour the campaign is calling "Parker to Ames, Farmer to President."
"My road to the White House began in Parker, Kansas, where I grew up on a farm, and now takes me through Iowa," the GOP presidential hopeful said in a statement. "It was growing up in the Heartland that I learned the conservative values and principles that will guide me as president.
"I am thrilled to meet with families, business owners, senior citizens and the hardworking people of the Hawkeye State," he added.
The bus tour is set to run from June 18-21.
The announcement comes days after Brownback vowed to go "head to head" with fellow Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney in the state's straw poll this August, and criticized the former Massachusetts Republican for declaring himself the winner of the event "before the game is played."
The straw poll, sponsored by the state Republican party and set to be held in Ames, Iowa, on August 11, has traditionally been seen as a barometer of a candidate’s organizational strength in the early-voting state. Earlier last week both former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani and Arizona Sen. John McCain announced they would not participate in the event.
- CNN Ticker Producer Alexander Mooney