Voinovich called for a change in Iraq policy Tuesday.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Less than 24 hours after Indiana Republican Sen. Dick Lugar broke ranks with the president and urged a change of course in Iraq, fellow GOP Sen. George Voinovich of Ohio has followed suit.
In a letter to President Bush Tuesday, Voinovich writes, "We must begin to develop a comprehensive plan for our country’s gradual military disengagement from Iraq and a corresponding increase in responsibility to the Iraqi government and its regional neighbors."
"Though it may seem contradictory, I believe we can accomplish more in Iraq by gradually and responsibly reducing our forces and focusing on a robust strategy of international cooperation and coordinated foreign aid," he added.
Both Voinovich and Lugar are members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and have, until now, supported the president's policy in Iraq.
In a speech on the Senate floor Monday night, Lugar said, "The costs and risks of continuing down the current path outweigh the potential benefits that might be achieved. Persisting indefinitely with the 'surge' strategy will delay policy adjustments that have a better chance of protecting our vital interests in the long term."
– CNN Ticker Producer Alexander Mooney
WASHINGTON (CNN) - The national Democratic and Republican parties will each receive $16.4 million in federal funds to hold their presidential nominating conventions in 2008, the Federal Election Commission announced Tuesday.
The money essentially will fund official party activity that takes place inside the convention hall, while non-partisan “host committees” are generally responsible for activity that takes place outside of the hall. The major parties first began receiving public convention funding in the 1976 election cycle, in the wake of Watergate-era changes to campaign finance laws.
Taxpayers fund the convention grants voluntarily by donating $3 on their annual federal tax returns, the same method used to provide public funding for qualifying presidential candidates. In exchange for the funding, the parties agree to limit their spending and to file detailed disclosure reports.
Democrats will hold their convention in Denver, Colorado, from August 25-28, 2008. Republicans will meet in Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota, from September 1-4, 2008.
WASHINGTON (CNN) – New political campaign ads hit the air in Iowa and New Hampshire Tuesday, another sign that presidential candidates are investing early in key primary states.
In Iowa, voters won’t cast the first votes of the 2008 election until January, but Sen. Barack Obama, D-Illinois chose the Hawkeye State to begin airing his first two campaign commercials this week. Across the country, in the equally important early voting state of New Hampshire, former Sen. John Edwards, D-North Carolina, is going up on the air new ads.
The Obama ads tell the story of his career before he came to Washington, as a community organizer in Chicago and even gives a nod towards bipartisanship. One of the ads features glowing words from a Republican, who worked with Obama in the Illinois state Senate.
“Republican legislators respected Senator Obama,” says Illinois state Sen. Kirk Dillard. “His negotiation skills and ability to understand both sides would serve the country very well.”
Even though Dillard is supporting Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, for president, he agreed to appear in Obama’s commercial.
In May, Edwards ran commercials in Iowa. And he’s not the only one. S en. Chris Dodd, D-Connecticut, has also advertised in both New Hampshire and Iowa. And New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson came up with some clever commercials poking fun at his resume.
(CNN) - On the eve of visits to the early primary states of New Hampshire and South Carolina, probable presidential candidate Fred Thompson stopped by his home state of Tennessee on Tuesday to rally supporters.
The actor and former U.S. senator was greeted at the Nashville airport by roughly a hundred supporters chanting “Run Fred Run” and waving “Fred Head” posters.
“I have always run in Tennessee,” said the former senator. “But these times are different, and to have the opportunity to maybe make a difference in the course of the direction of your country - and to be able to provide some leadership - is something you cannot turn your back on,” Thompson proclaimed.
The crowd responded with cheers and a shout: “The country needs you, Fred.”
– CNN Political Assignment Editor Marissa Muller
The Edwards camp is hoping Coulter's latest comments will lead to campaign cash.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - When conservative commentator Ann Coulter opens her mouth, former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards' presidential campaign sees dollar signs.
Joe Trippi, a top advisor to the campaign, sent out a fundraising e-mail Tuesday morning highlighting Coulter's recent comments on “Good Morning America.” During the show, she said, “If I'm going to say anything about John Edwards in the future, I'll just wish he had been killed in a terrorist assassination plot.”
Coulter was referencing the firestorm following her March comments, in which she referred to the North Carolina Democrat as "a faggot" during a political action committee meeting in Washington. She claimed that, during the same period of time, liberal television host Bill Maher "was not joking” when he said that “he wished Dick Cheney had been killed in a terrorist attack." According to Coulter, Maher didn't take the same heat for his comments that she did for hers.
"If you're a right-wing wing-nut, this is the scariest thing you can imagine — that the Democratic candidate with the boldest vision for America is also the most electable," Trippi wrote in the e-mail, which was a solicitation for campaign contributions. "So they will stop at nothing to tear John down. We can stop them — but only if you stand up."
Shortly after Coulter made her comments in March, the campaign prominently placed a video of the remarks on its Web site, hoping to solicit $100,000 in "Coulter Cash" to "show that inflaming prejudice to attack progressive leaders will only backfire."
The Edwards campaign is in an all-out push to meet its $9 million fundraising goal for the second quarter of 2007 before Saturday's deadline.
– CNN Ticker Producer Alexander Mooney
Edwards launched his first campaign ad in New Hampshire Thursday.
Edwards' campaign had initially planned to release the ad during the week of July fourth, but said it was ahead of its fundraising schedule and therefore decided to air the ad earlier. Senior Edwards staffers said recent stories criticizing the Democratic presidential candidate's expensive haircuts helped to boost their war chest.
"We're in a different era now," Senior Advisor Joe Trippi said. "People see a story like that, and they chip in $15 to $20 to get our real message out. Supporters think it wasn't fair, so it actually helps in terms of money."
The campaign wouldn't say how much was spent on the ad, but said that it was a "strong buy."
– CNN Associate Producer Lauren Kornreich
Bush mistakenly called the immigration bill 'amnesty' Tuesday.
WASHINGTON (CNN) – During an immigration reform event on Tuesday, President Bush misspoke when describing the immigration bill pending before the Senate.
“You know, I’ve heard all the rhetoric – you’ve heard it, too – about how this is amnesty,” said the president. “Amnesty means that you’ve got to pay a price for having been here illegally, and this bill does that.”
The White House released a statement shortly after the Bush’s remarks, saying the bill that he supports “is not an amnesty bill.”
As part of his push for comprehensive immigration reform, President Bush has made numerous calls to legislators on Capitol Hill, and devoted one of his weekly radio addresses to the subject.
– CNN Political Researcher Xuan Thai
Arthur Ravenel Jr. made some controversial comments about the NAACP at a Confederate flag rally in 2000.
Giuliani's presidential campaign released a list of regional chairs in South Carolina, which included Arthur Ravenel Jr., who will serve as the Lowcountry chairman.
Ravenel is the father of former South Carolina Treasurer Thomas Ravenel, who until last week was the state chairman of Giuliani's presidential campaign. Thomas Ravenel stepped down from his post on the Giuliani campaign after the indictment was announced. Gov. Mark Sanford suspended Ravenel from his position in the state government and named an interim treasurer.
Arthur Ravenel, a former U.S. Congressman and state senator, has his own controversial history. A supporter of flying the Confederate flag on the statehouse grounds, Ravenel referred to the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) as the "National Association for Retarded People" at a flag rally in 2000, according to the Charleston Post and Courier.
Arthur Ravenel later said he inadvertently mixed up his words and apologized to mentally handicapped people for comparing them to members of the NAACP, according to the newspaper.
A Giuliani spokeswoman declined to comment about Arthur Ravenel's statements.
President Bush makes remarks on comprehensive immigration reform in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building on the White House compound Tuesday.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - President Bush made an 11th hour plea Tuesday, asking the Senate to pass an immigration bill that has been languishing in that chamber since early June.
His comments came just a couple of hours before the Senate votes on a procedural motion to move ahead with the immigration reform measure, which needs 60 votes to pass.
If that hurdle is cleared, senators will begin considering some two dozen amendments, split evenly between Republicans and Democrats under an agreement brokered by a bipartisan group of senators who crafted the compromise bill.
"I view this as a historic opportunity for Congress to act," Bush told an audience of supporters at the Eisenhower office building. "This is a moment for people who have been elected to come together, focus on a problem and show the American people we can fix a problem."
The bill, Bush said, includes $4.4 billion for enforcement measures, including border protection; sets up a temporary worker program to address the needs of employers who rely on migrants; and requires that migrants learn English.
It's in the nation's interest "to bring people out of the shadows," Bush said.
Arizona Sen. John McCain noted that Monday's court ruling left standing the meat of the campaign finance bill.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - The Supreme Court's reversal of federal limits on independent political advertising has the potential to add "another X factor" to an already-unpredictable 2008 presidential race, one campaign finance analyst said Monday.
"It adds more money. It adds the potential for more upheaval from ad campaigns that the campaigns may want to stay away from," said Evan Tracey, a campaign finance analyst at TNS Media Intelligence.
Monday's 5-4 ruling struck down a key provision of the 2002 McCain-Feingold campaign finance law that barred third-party issue advertising 30 days before a primary and 60 days before a general election and restricted the use of candidates' names.