Senator John McCain, R-Arizona
(CNN) - Normally VIP visits to Iraq are kept under wraps, at least until the day of the trip. But Senator John McCain Friday night said he’s going to Iraq next week.
Responding to a question in Chicago about whether the Iraq strategy can succeed, the Republican presidential candidate said, “I understand the sorrow of the American people. I visit the wounded quite often at Walter Reed and Bethesda. I’m going to Iraq on Monday. And I’m going to be proud. I would rather spend the 4th of July with the men and women in Iraq than anywhere else in the world.”
McCain told reporters, “I’ll be at a re-enlistment ceremony for a large number of them who have decided while in combat to re-enlist because they believe in the mission. And they believe what they’re doing. And they believe the consequences of failure can be catastrophic.”
This will be McCain’s sixth trip to Iraq.
He was last there in April, shortly before he officially announced his candidacy, and came under criticism for comments on progress he said he saw in Baghdad. After a visit to an outdoor market under heavy military protection, McCain said, “I've been here many times over the years. Never have I been able to drive from the airport. Never have I been able to go out into the city as I was today." He later said he regretted the comments, telling CBS’ “60 Minutes,” “Of course I am going to misspeak and I've done it on numerous occasions and I probably will do it in the future.”
– CNN's Jamie Crawford and Steve Brusk
Richardson's camp released its second quarter fundraising numbers Friday.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson will show that he has raised at least $7 million for his presidential campaign in the past three months, a spokesman tells CNN, one day before the books on the second fundraising quarter are closed.
Richardson has raised more than $13 million for his White House bid from more than 38,000 contributors this year. The New Mexico Democrat raised $6.2 million in the first three months of 2007. And Pahl Shipley, Richardson's spokesman, notes that all of the money raised can be used in the primary.
Richardson's campaign is the second to estimate how much money it raised in the second quarter. On Thursday, Sen. Hillary Clinton's spokesman indicated that the New York Democrat will raise "in the range of $27 million" in this same time period.
– CNN Political Editor Mark Preston
Romney is taking heat for the way he transported his dog on family trips.
(CNN) - Under fire from a leading animal rights group, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney defended the family dog's mode of transportation to a 1983 summer vacation.
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) criticized the Republican presidential hopeful after The Boston Globe reported that Romney transported his dog in a rooftop carrier when the family drove from Boston to Ontario.
"If you wouldn’t strap your child to the roof of your car, you have no business doing that to the family dog," Ingrid Newkirk, president of PETA said in a statement. "I don’t know who would find that acceptable."
The article noted that Romney had built a wind shield carrier to make the ride more comfortable for the family's Irish Setter.
But on the campaign trail in Pennsylvania Thursday, Romney defended his chosen mode of transportation for the family dog.
"He scrambled up there every time we went on trips, got in all by himself and enjoyed it," Romney said of the Irish Setter.
Romney also conceded any endorsement of his candidacy by the group was unlikely.
"PETA has not been my fan over the years. PETA was after me for having a rodeo at the Olympics," he said in reference to his role as chief executive of the 2002 Winter Games in Salt Lake City, Utah. "PETA was unhappy when I went quail hunting in Georgia, and they're not happy that my dog likes fresh air."
– CNN Political Desk Editor Jamie Crawford
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards and his wife Elizabeth disagree over whether same-sex marriage should be legalized, but Elizabeth Edwards told CNN Friday it's not an issue the two spend much time discussing.
"We don't sit around and talk about gay marriage at home," Elizabeth Edwards told CNN's Wolf Blitzer Friday. "Honestly, I don't think many American couples do because it doesn't honestly affect our lives."
"It certainly doesn't threaten our marriage," Edwards added.
John Edwards has said he does not believe same-sex marriage should be legal, while Elizabeth Edwards has said she thinks it should.
Clinton's camp promises a behind the scenes look on the campaign trail.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - As a top tier presidential candidate, Sen. Hillary Clinton is surrounded by cameras nearly everywhere she goes.
But one more will follow the New York Democrat and her husband on the trail next week in Iowa, when her campaign debuts what it is calling the "HillCam," described as a "groundbreaking effort" that will show viewers a "totally unvarnished" Clinton.
"The HillCam will follow Hillary and Bill Clinton as they travel from Des Moines to Davenport, capturing their spontaneous and unscripted moments," according to a statement from the campaign. "Taking supporters beyond the soundbites, the HillCam will offer an unvarnished look at the Clintons’ first joint-campaigning of the 2008 race."
The Clintons will spend Monday-Wednesday in the crucial early-voting state.
– CNN Ticker Producer Alexander Mooney
Brownback defended his immigration vote switch Friday.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Sen. Sam Brownback, R-Kansas, is defending his last-minute switch against the immigration bill Thursday, a change he made after it became clear the measure was doomed.
In an interview with CNN Radio Friday, the presidential hopeful claimed he was trying to send two messages at once.
"I wanted to send a clear signal that I am for comprehensive immigration reform but now is not the time, this is not the vehicle,” Brownback said.
The Kansas Republican initially voted in favor of cloture, or keeping the bill alive, during the pivotal Thursday roll call. But 15 minutes after he cast that vote, a flurry of opposition crystallized into 45 fatal votes against the bill and it became clear the bill was going to die. At that point, Brownback changed position.
The cloture vote ultimately would fail 46-53, 14 votes short of the 60 it needed to survive. Brownback is among 18 Senators who voted for cloture on one aspect of the bill Tuesday, but then voted against it Thursday.
He is the only senator known to change votes during the roll call.
When pressed, Brownback again insisted the fast change was a conscience message about immigration policy change.
"This vehicle’s not the right vehicle to do it, that’s why I did it that way," he said.
– CNN Radio's Dick Uliano and Lisa Goddard contributed to this report
Edwards said Friday he is close to his $9 million fundraising goal.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - With the second quarter filing deadline looming, former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards is hinting that he has raised nearly $9 million since April.
In an e-mail to supporters Friday morning, Edwards appealed for last minute contributions and wrote, "We're in striking distance of our $9 million fundraising goal."
It is not clear what Edwards' definition of "striking distance" is though.
In the same e-mail, the presidential hopeful continued his effort to capitalize off of his wife Elizabeth's on-air clash with conservative commentator Ann Coulter earlier in the week. He is now encouraging supporters to let "Elizabeth know how proud we are of her by leaving a personal message for her when you contribute."
The second quarter deadline ends Saturday at midnight.
Poll respondents aren't as enamored of Sen. Harry Reid's Democrats, but still prefer them to Republicans.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - The Democratic leadership in Congress has lost some support among Americans - but not so much that the public wants Republicans back in charge, according to results of a new CNN/Opinion Research Poll released Friday.
Nearly half of 515 poll respondents, or 49 percent, said they disapproved of what Democratic leaders in Congress have done since taking over in January. Forty-two percent said they approve. In May, 49 percent of poll respondents approved and 44 percent did not.
However, 57 percent said they believe Democratic control of Congress is good for the country, as opposed to 31 percent who said it is not. In November, the same month midterm elections were held and Democrats assumed control, 67 percent of poll respondents said Democratic control of Congress is good for the nation.
The sampling error for those questions is plus or minus 4.5 percent, as they were asked of a half sample out of 1,029 poll respondents.
In general, Democrats still enjoy more favor than the GOP among Americans, the poll showed. Fifty-three percent of 907 poll respondents who are registered voters said they would vote for a Democratic candidate for Congress if elections were held today, as opposed to 41 percent who said they would vote Republican. The sampling error for that question is plus or minus 3.5 percent.
And 51 percent of the 1,029 respondents said they have a favorable opinion of the Democratic Party, with 38 percent reporting an unfavorable opinion. Fifty-three percent said their opinion of the GOP is unfavorable, compared to 36 percent who said it is favorable. The margin of error for those questions is plus or minus 3 percent.
The telephone poll was conducted June 22 through 24.
Compiled by Alexander Mooney
CNN Washington Bureau
Making news today...
* Eight Democratic presidential candidates participated in PBS' "All-American Presidential Forum" at Howard University Thursday night, "before an audience made up largely of one of their party’s most reliable and liberal constituencies, African-American voters." (New York Times)
"For a presidential candidate who has refused to be pigeon-holed as the "black candidate," Sen. Barack Obama found himself fading in a staged battle for the hearts of black voters Thursday night. (Chicago Sun Times)
Who won? The Politico's Roger Simon picks Hillary Clinton, who was "was chewing nails and spitting out tacks." Obama, who "spoke with passion and conviction and has gotten better and more confident with each debate," landed second. (The Politico)
* Over on Capitol Hill, "The most dramatic overhaul of the nation's immigration laws in a generation was crushed yesterday in the Senate." (Washington Post) The Boston Globe says "determined foes and heavy pressure" was "decisive."
In Newport, Rhode Island, the president "looked uncharacteristically dejected," while commenting on the bill's failure Thursday, "fiddling with papers as he talked and avoiding the sort of winking eye contact he often makes with reporters." (Washington Post)
* Meanwhile, "Bush, in Nixon-like move, won't give up files on firings." (New York Daily News headline)
* In news from the third branch of government Thursday, the Supreme Court "struck down assignment plans that place students by race to ensure that each public school has diverse classes," (Boston Globe) culminating "a fractious term in which the new Roberts court moved the law significantly to the right, legal analysts said." (Washington Post)
* In the so-called "money primary", "Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton’s presidential campaign announced yesterday that it would raise 'in the range of $27 million,'" and also "warned supporters to prepare for a similarly dazzling result by a leading Democratic rival, Senator Barack Obama." (New York Times)
* And who is making mysterious polling calls about a Bloomberg candidacy? Find out in Political Hot Topics below!
* The president spends the day at his father’s estate on Walker’s Point in Kennebunkport, Maine. No public events are scheduled.
Also on the Political Radar:
* Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi hold a 10 a.m. ET press conference on Capitol Hill, expected to "announce a new coordinated effort to force votes in July to end the Iraq war." (The Politico)
* Barack Obama heads to Minneapolis, Minnesota for a "Minnesota Community Kickoff," at 6:30 p.m. ET.
* John Edwards attends a "Small Change for Big Change" fundraising event in Tampa, Florida.
* Bill Richardson attends two closed door fundraisers in El Paso, Texas and Las Cruces, New Mexico.
*John McCain holds a media availability at 2 p.m. ET in Chicago.
* Rudy Giuliani makes an endorsement announcement at the Hyatt Regency in Irvine, California, 12:15 p.m. ET.
* Mike Huckabee will attend a "Meet Mick Huckabee" event in the Iowa Telecom Corporate headquarters in Newton, Iowa at 2:45 p.m. ET. He then heads to Waukee for a private house party at 7:30 p.m. ET.
* Elizabeth Edwards attends a "Small Change for Big Change" fundraiser in Lexington, Kentucky, 5 p.m. ET.
* The Senate Radio-Television Correspondents' Gallery Daybook: http://www.senate.gov/galleries/radiotv/list.htm
* The House Radio-Television Correspondents' Gallery Daybook: http://radiotv.house.gov/news-events.aspx
Poll: Support for Dems in Congress wavering, but GOP still in disfavor
Political Hot Topics
(Today's top political stories from news organizations across the country)
DEMS STICK TO DOMESTIC ISSUES IN DEBATE: For 90 minutes Thursday night, eight Democratic candidates debated before an audience made up largely of one of their party’s most reliable and liberal constituencies, African-American voters, and used the stage to urge a revitalization of domestic programs they said had faltered under President Bush. They called for spending more on schools in poor neighborhoods to lower class sizes and raising salaries for teachers to prevent a drain of educators from inner-city schools. They called for rolling back tax cuts on the wealthy to pay for expanded health care and provide job training. The debate was held here on the campus of Howard University, a historically black college. It was the third Democratic presidential debate of the campaign, but the first one dedicated largely to domestic issues and particularly the problems facing minorities. New York Times: Domestic issues frame Democratic debate
OBAMA: FADING TO BLACK? For a presidential candidate who has refused to be pigeon-holed as the "black candidate," Sen. Barack Obama found himself fading in a staged battle for the hearts of black voters Thursday night. Billed as the "All-American Presidential Forum," the televised debate brought the eight Democratic contenders to Howard University, one of the most prestigious schools in the network of historically black colleges. The gathering of presidential hopefuls was also a prime time showcase for Tavis Smiley, a media celebrity, and his book, The Covenant with Black America, a New York Times best-selling collection of essays that offer solutions to a variety of problems plaguing impoverished minority communities. Chicago Sun Times: Obama fading to black?
PELOSI, REID TO ANNOUNCE NEW EFFORT TO END WAR: Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) are expected tomorrow to announce a new coordinated effort to force votes in July to end the Iraq war, according to Democratic insiders. Reid has already publicly declared that Senate Democrats will offer four Iraq-related amendments to the upcoming 2008 Defense authorization bill, including a proposal by Reid and Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wis.) to set a firm timetable to withdraw U.S. troops from Iraq by next spring. Pelosi is planning to announce that the House will also vote on a bill setting a new withdrawal timetable of April 1, 2008, although the details of the proposal were still up in the air at press time, according to Democratic sources. The House will consider this proposal as a freestanding bill, said the sources. The Politico: Pelosi, Reid to announce new push to end Iraq war
BUSH INVOKES EXECUTIVE PRIVILEGE FOR ATTORNEY DOCS: President Bush will invoke executive privilege rather than yield to congressional demands for documents on the firing of at least eight U.S. attorneys, who allegedly were canned for political reasons. White House counsel Fred Fielding announced yesterday that Team Bush would not hand over documents from ex-White House counsel Harriet Miers and former political director Sara Taylor. "We had hoped this matter could conclude with your committees receiving information in lieu of having to invoke executive privilege. Instead, we are at this conclusion," Fielding said in letters to both oversight committees. The fight will now likely move to the federal courts. New York Daily News: Bush, in Nixon-like move, won't give up files on firings
IMMIGRATION BILL SUFFERS DEFEAT: The most dramatic overhaul of the nation's immigration laws in a generation was crushed yesterday in the Senate, with the forces of the political right and left overwhelming a bipartisan compromise on one of the most difficult issues facing the country. With 53 senators against moving on to a final vote and 46 in favor, supporters fell dramatically short of the 60 votes needed to overcome the delaying tactics and parliamentary maneuvers that have dogged the bill for weeks. With no way to cut off debate, Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) pulled the bill from the Senate floor for the second time this month, and this time it is not likely to come up again before a new president comes to power. Washington Post: Immigration bill goes down
A PRESIDENT ADMITS DEFEAT: He looked uncharacteristically dejected as he approached the lectern, fiddling with papers as he talked and avoiding the sort of winking eye contact he often makes with reporters. And then President Bush did something he almost never does: He admitted defeat. "A lot of us worked hard to see if we couldn't find a common ground," he said an hour after his immigration plan died on Capitol Hill. "It didn't work." It was, in the end, simply a statement of reality after the Senate buried his proposal to overhaul immigration laws. But for a president who makes a point of never giving in, even when he loses, it was a striking moment, underscoring the depth of his political travails. It took almost two years before Bush acknowledged, just months ago, that his effort to reshape Social Security had failed. Now he has surrendered in what was probably his last chance of securing a legacy-making second-term domestic victory. Washington Post: Bush may be out of chances for a lasting Domestic victory
DETERMINED OPPONENTS VITAL IN BILL'S DEATH: A bitterly divided Senate killed a sweeping immigration reform package yesterday, depriving President Bush of a key domestic policy priority and destroying what proponents in both parties considered the last best chance to overhaul US immigration law before the 2008 elections. The measure, which would have given 12 million undocumented immigrants a path to legal status while strengthening border security, failed when senators voted 46-53 against holding a final vote on the bill. While immigration is likely to be an issue in the presidential campaign, any attempts at overhauling the process probably will not happen until after the election. Supporters needed 60 votes to keep the bill alive but couldn't overcome opposition from a small group of senators and heavy political pressure on wavering lawmakers. Boston Globe: Determined foes, heavy pressure decisive
COURT REJECTS RACE-BASED SCHOOL ASSIGNMENTS: The Supreme Court yesterday struck down assignment plans that place students by race to ensure that each public school has diverse classes, marking a major shift in discrimination law. The decision could make hundreds of school-assignment plans across the country, including roughly 20 in Massachusetts, subject to legal challenges. The Supreme Court's decision was the latest in a string of 5-to-4 victories for conservatives following the arrival of President Bush's two nominees to the bench. The court, in the final decision of its term, ruled that desegregation plans in Seattle and Louisville discriminated against white students who had been prevented from attending the school of their choice, even though slots were available for minority students. Boston Globe: Justices, in shift, reject 2 race-based school plans
VISIBLE SHIFT SEEN IN SUPREME COURT RULINGS: The Supreme Court's decision overturning school desegregation policies in two U.S. cities yesterday culminates a fractious term in which the new Roberts court moved the law significantly to the right, legal analysts said. In a series of 5 to 4 decisions this term, the court also upheld a federal ban on a late-term abortion procedure and gutted a key provision of the McCain-Feingold campaign finance law. Along with yesterday's schools case, each of these decisions left open the possibility of more change in areas of the law on which the court had seemingly ruled definitively within the past decade. "Conservatives got everything they could reasonably have hoped for out of the term," said Thomas C. Goldstein, a Washington lawyer who specializes in Supreme Court litigation. "The table is set, particularly if there are more changes in the court, for wholesale changes in constitutional law. There were some incremental steps, but they were in a distinct direction and a uniform direction." Washington Post: Narrow victories move Roberts court to right
FUNDRAISING SPIN BEGINS: Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton’s presidential campaign announced yesterday that it would raise “in the range of $27 million” for the second quarter of 2007, which ends Saturday night, and also warned supporters to prepare for a similarly dazzling result by a leading Democratic rival, Senator Barack Obama. While Mr. Obama has declined to provide an estimate of second-quarter fund-raising figures, the campaign yesterday sought to signal its financial strength by disclosing that more than 250,000 people had contributed to his presidential race. “Suddenly, we’re within reach of something no presidential campaign has ever dreamed of at this stage,” Mr. Obama’s campaign manager, David Plouffe, said in an e-mail message to supporters, adding, “It will send a powerful message that our movement is both bigger and deeper than anything presidential politics has ever seen.” New York Times: Fundraising for Clinton and Obama nears records
THOMPSON COURTS NEW HAMPSHIRE REPUBLICANS: Hinting strongly at a presidential run, Fred Thompson last night urged Republicans to lead the country by returning to their founding principles and renewing their commitment to small government, individual freedom and free trade. Hundreds of potential supporters and dozens of journalists flocked to a Republican state Senate fundraiser at the Wayfarer Convention Center to learn more about a man most recognizable for his role as District Attorney Arthur Branch on NBC's "Law & Order" and his appearances in more than 18 films over the past two decades. The New Hampshire Union Leader: Thompson gets a look at NH
GIULIANI MAKES STOP IN SACRAMENTO: Rudy Giuliani did not visit Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on Thursday, even though he was mere steps from the state Capitol and held a fundraiser in the governor's Sacramento hotel home. No matter. The former New York City mayor and Republican presidential candidate made do with a downtown lunchtime mix of high school girls, legislative aides, ladies meeting for lunch and activists on break from college. Giuliani swept through Ambrosia Cafe on Thursday, disturbing the usual lunch-hour murmur at the gourmet sandwich shop a block from the Capitol. He shook hands, wished patrons a "good Fourth of July" and scarfed down part of a salad before diving into a scrum of television cameras. Sacramento Bee: Giuliani sweeps through Capital
ROMNEY TAKES HEAT FROM PETA: Animal rights activists were howling for Mitt Romney’s hide yesterday after the White House wannabe’s son told the Boring Broadsheet a Clark Griswold-esque tale of strapping the family dog to the roof of the station wagon as the fam took off to Canada for summer Vacation. PETA accused the ex-gov of torturing poor Seamus. And the Mass. Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals reported that the 1983 incident, detailed in the BB’s exhaustive – and exhausting – Romney coverage this week, may, in fact, be illegal. According to Romney family lore, Mitt tied Seamus, an Irish Setter, to the station wagon’s roof rack in a carrier before heading off to Lake Huron. He had, according to the Boring Ones, fashioned the carrier with a windscreen “to make the ride more comfortable for the dog.” Boston Herald: Peta hits roof over Mitt's animal antics
A DIFFERENT CINDY MCCAIN IN 2008: Cindy McCain on the presidential campaign trail in 2000 was mostly a cheerful sidekick to her husband, keeping her positions on national policy to herself. When her husband, Senator John McCain, Republican of Arizona, saw his White House run collapse in the South Carolina primary — after a whispering campaign suggesting that he had fathered an illegitimate child and bringing up her onetime addiction to painkillers — Mrs. McCain burst into tears, but then joined her husband on a road of forgiving and forgetting. Seven years later, with her husband making a second bid for the presidency, Mrs. McCain appears as a different kind of spouse. With two sons in the military, including one who is about to be deployed to Iraq, she is far from the demure campaign wife, especially when it comes to the winner of that South Carolina primary, George W. Bush. New York Times: Mrs. McCain is speaking up in a steely tone
WHO'S POLLING A BLOOMBERG PRESIDENCY? The phone rings. A mysterious automated voice begins asking questions about Mayor Bloomberg running for – surprise, surprise – President. Would you support Bloomberg running for the White House as an independent? Would you support his candidacy if he pledged to spend $1 billion of his own money on the campaign? Philip Cornell, of Somerset County, N.J., said he received that very call at home in mid- or early June. The automated voice did not identify who commissioned the poll, he said. New York Daily News: Mystery of Mike-for-prez phone calls