Atlanta, GEORGIA (CNN) - Presidential candidate Sen. John McCain thinks that the current “anti-Americanism” felt in Latin America exists because the U.S. has been ignoring the region, the Arizona Republican said Wednesday.
In a speech in Palm Beach, Florida, McCain also said that he “will not passively await the long overdue demise of the Castro dictatorship.”
McCain believes U.S. leaders and media have focused most of their attention on the Middle East and in the meantime “dangerous forces” have slipped into Latin America. With Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez following Fidel Castro’s lead of “embracing authoritarianism” McCain says we are creating a “recipe for disaster.”
“Hugo Chavez has used the cloak of electoral legitimacy to establish a one party dictatorship in Venezuela, breathed new oxygen into the decaying Castro regime in Cuba, allied with Iran and other American enemies, and supported populist, anti-American forces throughout the hemisphere,” said McCain in a speech to the Florida Association of Broadcast.
McCain has big plans for Latin America. He called for more U.S. assistance to Latin American governments to increase security over land, sea, and air and also to bolster the electoral process and trade.
"Our security priority in this hemisphere is to ensure that terrorists, their enablers and their business partners, including narcotraffickers, have nowhere to hide," he said.
McCain drove it home that we need to create a “democratic hemisphere” and change how we have treated Latin America in the past, which was as a “junior partner rather than as a neighbor, like a little brother rather than an equal. Latin America is not our backyard; Central and South America are not ‘beneath’ the United States.”
–CNN Political Desk Assignment Editor Marissa Muller
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Filmmaker and activist Michael Moore came to an overflowing committee room on Capitol Hill Wednesday to promote his new movie about America's healthcare system and to say that the system is on life support.
"Every American has a human right that when they get sick, they have a right to go to a doctor and not have to worry about whether or not they can afford it," said Moore.
The director of the new documentary titled "Sicko" surrounded himself with dozens of Congress' most liberal members and touted his support for their National Health Insurance Act, which would eradicate all private and non-profit health care companies and instead establish a publicly financed single-payer health care system.
"No more uninsured! No more partially insured!" declared Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio, to thunderous applauses.
Among all the Democrats running for president, Kucinich is the only one supporting this legislation and Michael Moore is taking notice.
"Dennis Kucinich certainly comes the closest of what we need to see," Moore said.
Producers of the film invited all 435 members of Congress to a private screening of his scathing film on the healthcare industry. They did not say how many members will be attending.
– CNN Congressional Producer Evan Glass
Bloomberg is no longer affiliated with the Republican party.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg's decision to leave the Republican Party Tuesday fueled speculation the billionaire might mount an independent presidential bid, but a recent Pew Research poll indicates that more than half of Americans wouldn't consider supporting him.
Only 9 percent of voters who have heard of the New York City Mayor say they would likely vote for him, while 23 percent say there is some chance they would back his candidacy. More than half of those polled, 56 percent, say there’s no chance they would vote for Bloomberg.
The poll also finds Bloomberg enjoys higher name recognition than many of the candidates, Republicans and Democrats alike, already in the race or seriously considering a run.
Nearly two-thirds of those polled, 65 percent had heard of Bloomberg, while 62 percent had heard of former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, a Republican; 58 percent had heard of Delaware Sen. Joe Biden, a Democrat; 51 percent had heard of former Tennessee Sen. Fred Thompson, a Republican; and 48 percent had heard of New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, a Democrat.
Bloomberg, a former Democrat who ran as a Republican in the New York City mayoral race, officially changed his party status to unaffiliated Tuesday - a move he says does not indicate he is considering a presidential bid.
The poll, conducted May 30 to June 3, surveyed 1,503 adults - 1,247 of whom are registered voters. It carries a margin of error of plus or minus three percentage points.
– CNN Ticker Producer Alexander Mooney
WASHINGTON (CNN) – Sen. Barack Obama, D-Illinois, won a straw poll of liberal activists Wednesday after a parade of potential Democratic presidential candidates appeared before the “Take Back America” Conference held in the nation’s capital.
Obama won with 29 percent of the vote, beating out former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards, who received 26 percent. New York Sen. Hillary Clinton came in third with 17 percent and New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson earned 9 percent. The unscientific survey was conducted by the newspaper, Politico.com.
Former Vice President Al Gore, who has said so far that he is not planning to run, received 9 percent and Ohio Rep. Dennis Kucinich won 5 percent. Connecticut Sen. Chris Dodd, Delaware Sen. Joe Biden and former Alaska Sen. Mike Gravel each pulled in 1 percent of the vote.
Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research, who conducted the poll for Politico, reported that 727 attendees participated in the survey. Full survey results
– CNN Associate Producer Lauren Kornreich
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich signed a law Wednesday moving the state's primary election to Feb. 5, 2008, an action that will likely help home state Sen. Barack Obama, D-Illinois, who is seeking the Democratic presidential nomination.
"Illinois is the fifth largest state in the country,” Blagojevich said in a statement. “The people who live here deserve to play a bigger role in deciding who the presidential candidates will be."
Illinois is the latest state to move its primary to what is being called the new "Super Tuesday," joining as many as 20 other states including New York, California, Georgia, Missouri and New Jersey to hold primary elections on that date.
The state's primary election was originally scheduled for March 18.
Clinton was heckled at the Take Back America conference
WASHINGTON (CNN) – When it was Sen. Hillary Clinton's turn before the "Take Back America" conference Wednesday morning, her remarks ranged from health care and the federal debt to education. But the New York Democrat’s biggest cheers and jeers came on the subject of Iraq.
Clinton praised the American military, while taking issue with President Bush and the Iraqi government which, "has failed to make the tough decisions."
The dozen hecklers from the anti-war group "Code Pink," stood holding signs reading, "Lead us out of Iraq now." In response, Clinton acknowledged the signs saying that's "what we are trying to do." The Democratic presidential candidate said she has co-sponsored a bill to 'de-authorizing' the war to force the President's hand.
"We need to end the authority that he is currently operating under to strip him of the legitimacy of going forward with his policy," she said.
Clinton said the war in Iraq has been catastrophic for the United States and reminded the audience that she recently voted against a war funding bill, saying, "The best way to support the troops is finally to start bringing them home."
Jodie Evans, a co-founder of "Code Pink" was not satisfied, saying it was "shameful" that Clinton "would blame the Iraqis for what is happening.
"She is one of those Senators who voted to go into Iraq, she is not taking responsibility for it,” Evans said.
– CNN Political Producer Mike Roselli
Bloomberg left the GOP party Tuesday.
WASHINGTON (CNN) — A day after quitting the Republican Party to become an independent politician, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg brushed aside speculation that he’s going to run for president on a third party ticket. But he wouldn't close the door completely.
"I have said that my intention is to be mayor for the next 925 days and probably about 10 hours, whatever's left, 11 hours," Bloomberg said during a news conference in New York City. "And that is my intention. I've got the greatest job in the world and I'm going to keep doing it."
But the New York City mayor also noted, "The more people that run for office the better."
Bloomberg said he dropped his Republican Party affiliation, because he wanted to be able to speak out about issues like immigration, Iraq and health care more effectively. The mayor said he thinks there are already a lot of choices for presidential candidates and that attention should be spent on those that are actually running.
"I think they're wasting they're time, I'm not a candidate, they should get down to polling on people who are candidates and we've got a lot of them in this country," he said. "We even have two people from New York who are candidates for President of the United States, I'm not sure the state needs a third."
He has made similar comments in the past.
But what would it take for Bloomberg to run?
"If everyone in the world was dead and I was the only one alive, sure," Bloomberg joked.
–CNN Associate Producer Lauren Kornreich
WASHINGTON (CNN) - It's not every day that New York media rivals the Post and the Daily News agree on the same story, photograph, and headline for their front pages.
But both papers found the Clintons' Sopranos parody too hard to resist Wednesday.
Ravenel was charged with distribution of cocaine Tuesday night.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani's presidential campaign has named a new South Carolina state chairman, one day after the GOP presidential hopeful’s former state chair Thomas Ravenel was indicted on federal cocaine charges.
Barry Wynn, a former chairman of the South Carolina GOP, will assume the role, the campaign announced this morning.
“Barry has been a driving force behind our success in South Carolina and he is the natural choice to lead our efforts in the Palmetto State,” Giuliani's political director Mark Campbell said in a statement.
In the same statement, Wynn hailed Giuliani for possessing "the common sense, experience, and vision that South Carolinians are looking for in their next president."
Ravenel, the South Carolina state treasurer, was charged with distribution of cocaine Tuesday night. Giuliani's campaign issued a brief statement following the indictments, saying Ravenel had stepped down from the post and it had no information on the charges.
– CNN Ticker Producer Alexander Mooney
Bloomberg left the GOP party Tuesday.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Unity08, the bipartisan grassroots organization pushing a third party presidential candidacy, couldn't be happier that New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg dropped his Republican affiliation Tuesday.
"The announcement by Michael Bloomberg reinforces what Unity08 has been saying since our inception, that the current political system is broken and does not address the concerns of the majority of the population," said organization co-founder Doug Bailey in a statement Wednesday.
Meanwhile, Jerry Rafshoon, another founder of Unity08, hailed Bloomberg as the "perfect independent leader, and a very competent one who knows how to work across party lines to get results."
Though Bloomberg officially dropped his GOP affiliation Tuesday, the New York mayor insists he has no plans to mount an independent bid for president.
Read more from Time.com: Bloomberg and Schwarzenegger: The New Action Heroes