Senator John McCain, R-Arizona.
(CNN) - Arizona Sen. John McCain said Thursday that he is unfazed by the latest poll numbers that put him in single digits in Iowa.
"I think they're fine, particularly in the early states, but most importantly I'm happy with the financial and political base we have. I'm happy with the progress we have made," the GOP presidential hopeful told reporters in St. Paul, Minnesota.
McCain said he believes it is too early to read much into the numbers. "In the year 1999, at this time, I was at 3 percent.” In the 2000 presidential race, McCain beat then-Texas Gov. George W. Bush in the New Hampshire primary. He soon pulled out of the race after losing to Bush in the South Carolina primary.
McCain's comments came as the latest Mason-Dixon poll shows McCain polling at just 6 percent in Iowa – essentially tied for fourth place with former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee. Fellow Republican challenger Rudy Giuliani was polling at 15 percent in the same poll. Both men recently announced they would not participate in the Ames, Iowa, straw poll this August. In previous polls, both had support as high as the mid-20's.
The poll, conducted June 13-16, interviewed 400 likely caucus-goers and carries a sampling error of plus or minus 5 percent.
– CNN Political Desk Editor Jamie Crawford
As governor of a border state, Richardson said he is well aware of the effects of legal and illegal immigration.
(CNN) – New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, a Democratic presidential candidate, joked Thursday at a town hall meeting in Phoenix, Arizona that Mexico should stop offering a map to its citizens of the easiest way to cross the U.S.-Mexico border.
Richardson, who's mother was Hispanic, says he wants to have a conversation with Mexico and be frank with them on the immigration problem.
"Hey Mexico, why don’t you help your people and do something to give them jobs. Maybe we will do something with you to help create jobs at the border. Maybe joint projects, but at the very least don’t give people maps in the easiest areas to cross," said Richardson as he acted out the conversation.
As governor of a border state, Richardson said he is well aware of the effects of legal and illegal immigration.
He reiterated in his speech that the U.S. needs to enforce the borders with more border patrol and doubling the national guards. Richardson also said “those that hire illegal immigrants should be punished.”
– CNN Assignment Editor Marissa Muller
President Bush tours the control room of the Browns Ferry Nuclear Plant in Athens, Alabama Thursday.
(CNN) - President Bush used the reactivation of a long-closed nuclear reactor to plug his energy conservation proposals Thursday, urging Congress to ease the way for new power plants he said would produce carbon-free electricity.
“If you are interested in cleaning up the air, then you ought to be an advocate for nuclear power,” Bush said during a stop at the Browns Ferry nuclear plant near Athens, Alabama. “Without nuclear power here in the United States, there would be nearly 700 million additional tons of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere every year.”
No U.S. nuclear plant has been ordered since the 1978 accident at the Three Mile Island plant near Harrisburg, Pa. Critics say the dangers posed by radioactive waste and the cost overruns incurred by previous projects make the plants impractical and unsafe.
But because they produce none of the carbon emissions blamed for an increase in global temperatures, nuclear plants - which produce about 20 percent of U.S. electricity - have been getting a second look in recent years. Bush has pressed for more nuclear power since taking office and said the United States will need three new plants a year, starting in 2015, to keep pace with U.S. demand.
The Tennessee Valley Authority, which runs Browns Ferry, shut down the No. 1 reactor in 1985. The plant was the scene of a 1975 fire that damaged the plant’s electrical control system in what as the worst U.S. nuclear incident before the partial meltdown at Three Mile Island.
– From CNN News Editor Matt Smith
Lieberman is co-hosting a fundraiser for Republican Sen. Susan Collins Thursday.
Washington (CNN) – A fundraiser Thursday night for Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, is drawing heat from liberals due in large part to the event’s co-host: Sen. Joseph Lieberman, I-Connecticut.
In an e-mail sent to supporters, the anti-war group MoveOn.org called tonight’s event “absurd,” labeling it “Joe Lieberman’s Republican fundraiser.” The event, which will be held in Washington, is being co-hosted by Lieberman and Republican Sen. Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania.
MoveOn.org is working to counter Lieberman’s efforts by raising money for Collins’ 2008 Senate opponent, Democratic congressman Tom Allen. As of Thursday afternoon, MoveOn had raised over $200,000 for Allen in just over 48 hours. Allen’s campaign said it welcomed the support.
Over the past several years, Lieberman’s support for the war in Iraq has made him a marked man among liberal bloggers. His reputation on the Web bottomed out last year during his contentious Senate race with millionaire businessman Ned Lamont, an anti-war Democrat. Thanks largely to the support of prominent liberal bloggers, Lamont upset Lieberman in the Connecticut Democratic primary last August. Lieberman then switched his party affiliation to Independent and was re-elected to the Senate in November.
Collins endorsed Lieberman at the time, and the two senators have worked closely together on the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs committees.
“Senator Lieberman is very pleased to support Senator Collins because she is an extremely effective senator who works in a bi-partisan fashion to get things done,” said Lieberman spokesperson Marshall Wittman. “Senator Lieberman strongly believes that the American people want progress before partisanship.”
A spokesperson for Collins called Allen an “extreme party loyalist” and dismissed the MoveOn fundraising effort.
“The event that Senators Specter and Lieberman are hosting for Senator Collins tonight strikes a blow at those who thrive on base-driven politics and hyper-partisanship,” said Collins spokesperson Jen Burita in an email. “Senator Collins is proud to have support of Senators Specter and Lieberman and looks forward to tonight’s event.”
– CNN Associate Producer Peter Hamby
Singer/songwriter Paul Simon will join Dodd on the campaign trail next month.
WASHINGT0N (CNN) - Sen. Chris Dodd is infusing his bus tour of Iowa next month with some star power.
The Connecticut Democrat and 2008 presidential candidate announced Thursday that Grammy Award-winner Paul Simon will join him on his "River to River" bus tour July 6 and 7. The singer/songwriter will appear with Dodd at tour stops and add "informal performances" according to the campaign.
"Paul is a long-time friend and one of the most important voices in American music, and he has been tireless in his service to the greater good of people throughout our country and the world," Dodd said in a statement. "His music and his commitment to bettering our world reflect the leadership and optimism that my campaign is all about."
Simon, who according to the campaign has endorsed Dodd, donated $4,600 to the Connecticut Democrat last quarter - the maximum amount an individual can give for both a primary and general election campaign.
– CNN Ticker Producer Alexander Mooney
Sessions does not support the president's immigration bill.
(CNN) – One advantage of taking passengers on Air Force One is you have a captive audience. But one of the most vocal critics of the Bush-backed immigration bill, Republican Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama, says President Bush hasn’t been doing too much arm twisting as he traveled with him Thursday.
Sessions, who said earlier this month President Bush "needs to back off" on the immigration bill. Despite their disagreement on the issue, the president is hosting a fundraiser for Sessions in Mobile, Alabama.
At their first stop, the Browns Ferry nuclear in Athens, Alabama, a pool reporter asked Sessions if the president has changed his mind on immigration during the day.
Sessions replied, “Well, I will say that he’s mentioned it. But he isn’t doing any real selling.”
– CNN Political Desk Manager Steve Brusk
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Former Attorney General John Ashcroft deflected questions from reporters about the visit White House officials paid to his hospital room in 2004 urging him to reverse a Justice Department opinion that a government wiretapping program was illegal, but he apparently discussed the visit during a closed door hearing Thursday of the House Intelligence Committee.
"It is very apparent to us there was robust and enormous debate within the administration about the legal basis for the president's surveillance program. These people deserve credit for standing on their principles in that debate and taking their duties seriously," Rep. Silvestre Reyes, D-Texas, chairman of the panel, told reporters after the hearing.
Concerning the debate over whether the National Security Agency's program for intercepting terrorist communications was legal, "I think that is something that has been well documented," Reyes said. "That's why we're conducting closed hearings so that we can get into the real details of ... what that ... dialogue was about."
Ashcroft and committee members refused to discuss specifically what was said in the hearing.
Cheney is accused of trying to abolish an oversight office.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Vice President Cheney's office circumvented the system for overseeing classified documents and then moved to abolish the National Archives' office challenging its actions, House Oversight Committee Chairman Henry Waxman said Thursday.
According to letters released by the committee, the vice president's office said it was not an "entity within the executive branch" and was therefore exempt from rules established in a presidential order for the National Archives to oversee classified information.
"Your decision to exempt your office from the president's order is problematic because it could place national security at risk," Waxman, D-California, wrote in a letter to Cheney that the committee released.
After receiving repeated requests to comply by the oversight office at the National Archives, and a follow-up request to Attorney General Gonzales asking that he help resolve the matter, Cheney's office instead retaliated, recommending the National Archives office be disbanded, the Waxman letter said.
William Leonard, head of the National Archives office in question, told the Oversight Committee that Cheney's team attempted to get a provision in the presidential order - which is currently being revised - that would have prevented the National Archives from appealing to the attorney general.
"Mr. Leonard also said that your office proposed a more drastic change," Waxman wrote in his letter to Cheney. "According to Mr. Leonard, your office urged the inter-agency committee considering revisions to the executive order to abolish the Information Security Oversight Office."
Waxman said that the vice president's office then tried to get the revised order to exclude the office of the Vice President.
Cheney's office would neither confirm nor deny it tried to abolish the National Archives office.
Clinton and Bloomberg appeared at a press conference together in May.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Former President Bill Clinton praised New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg Thursday, but he made clear that he's already backing another candidate in the 2008 presidential race.
"He's a smart fella, and suppose he couldn't bear being in the Republican Party - which I thought showed great, good judgment on his part," the former president said during his foundation's announcement of a new initiative to aid developing countries.
"I don't have anything else to say about him running for president. I already have a candidate," he added, referring to his wife, New York Sen. Hillary Clinton. "Whoever runs - the voters will decide on who'll be the best, and I think she'll be the best."
Bloomberg officially dropped his affiliation with the Republican Party earlier this week - a move that fueled speculation he is considering jumping into the presidential race as an independent candidate.
But on Wednesday, Bloomberg dismissed the speculation and joked he would only consider running “if everyone in the world was dead and I was the only one alive."
– CNN's Jamie Crawford and Alexander Mooney
Pelosi, with the president at a congressional picnic earlier this week, stopped short of endorsing his immigration bill.
WASHINGTON (CNN) – In an interview posted online Thursday afternoon, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-California, said she is “optimistic” that her Senate colleagues will be able to pass an immigration bill, with ultimate success depending upon what role the president takes in the process.
“I'm optimistic now that there's a chance that they will be able to get a bill out,” Pelosi said in an interview conducted on Wednesday by Jonathan Singer of the liberal blog MyDD.com. “It all depends on the leadership of the president. If he cares enough about it, which I believe he does, then the Senate will pass comprehensive, bipartisan immigration legislation.”
However, Pelosi did not offer an endorsement of the immigration bill, even if it manages to pass the Senate.
“We'll watch it very carefully to see what it is and see what we can do to either improve upon it or possibly reject it,” she said. “But again, it has to meet certain standards. We have our standards. We've put them out there. Secure our borders, workplace enforcement, protect our workers, non-exploitation of the people coming in and a path to legalization for the millions of people in the United States now.”