Paul raised $2.4 million in the second quarter.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - He's considered a long-shot to win the GOP presidential nomination, but Texas Rep. Ron Paul is boasting more cash-on-hand than Arizona Sen. John McCain's struggling presidential campaign.
The Texas Republican raised nearly $2.4 million in the second quarter, and, after all expenses, has a total amount of $2.4 million cash-on-hand, campaign spokesman Kent Snyder tells CNN. Paul raised $640,000 in the first quarter of 2007.
Snyder added that nearly all of Paul’s warchest was raised through the Internet.
Earlier in the week, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani’s campaign announced having $18 million in campaign cash, $15 million of which may be spent on the primaries. Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney's campaign announced a warchest of $12 million for the GOP nomination fight.
Arizona Sen. John McCain, once the early favorite to win the nomination, reported raising a disappointing $11.2 million in the second quarter with only $2 million cash on hand - $400,000 less than Paul. His campaign said his support of immigration reform legislation hurt his fundraising ability.
Paul, with only 11 staffers on his campaign, runs a frugal campaign. The Texas Republican rarely travels to key campaign states. Snyder said the campaign is expecting to expand into additional states in the near future.
Paul registered 2 percent in the latest CNN/Opinion Research poll conducted June 22-24.
- CNN Ticker Producer Alexander Mooney
WASHINGTON DC (CNN) - The presidential campaign trail is making its way through New Orleans. The top two Democratic presidential contenders made stops there to show their support for a city rebuilding from Hurricane Katrina. They’re also in the Crescent City to reach out to a key part of their party, black voters.
Senators Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama spoke at the Essence Music Festival, which is one of the nation’s top black cultural events. The festival, back in New Orleans after a year away due to the damage from Katrina, has long been a mix of great music and serious efforts towards social change. This year it’s also mixing music with presidential politics.
Obama took center stage at the festival Thursday night. The Senator from Illinois told the crowd that “if all of you are not just ready to rebuild New Orleans, but rebuild the New Orleans all across America, on the southside of Chicago or in New York City, and in Los Angeles and Houston and all across America, I am convinced that we will not just win an election this time out, but more importantly we are going to transform a country.”
Clinton spoke to the crowd on Friday. The Senator from New York also focused her comments on New Orleans, saying, “I believe it’s an American responsibility to rebuild New Orleans, not just one of Louisiana and New Orleans but all of us working together.”
John Edwards isn’t at the Essence Music Festival, but the former Senator from North Carolina kicked off his presidential campaign in the Crescent City, formally declaring his candidacy in the devastated Ninth Ward of New Orleans last December.
So why all the attention to New Orleans?
Because the city’s plight has become a national storyline and because Katrina had a devastating effect on the city’s black community.
Black voters are crucial to the Democratic Party. “Nearly nine in ten blacks vote Democratic, making them the most reliable Democratic voting bloc in the country,” says CNN Pollster Keating Holland.
And they’ll play an important role in picking the next Democratic presidential nominee, especially in the early primary states of South Carolina and Florida.
Senators Clinton and Obama are neck and neck among black voters in the most recent poll. But it’s still very early and many voters haven’t made up their minds yet. We caught up with Renae Bradley outside the Essence festival. She told us that she’s “not feeling that at this point either Clinton or Obama would be that much of a difference.”
One thing’s for sure. Expect the attention by the candidates to New Orleans and to black voters to continue. Next week all of the Democratic Presidential hopefuls will speak at the NAACP convention in Detroit.
- CNN Deputy Political Director Paul Steinhauser
A majority of Americans disapprove of Libby's commutation, according to a new poll.
WASHINGTON (CNN) – A majority of Americans and nearly half of all Republicans disapprove of President Bush’s commutation of Lewis "Scooter" Libby’s 30-month prison sentence, according to a new American Research Group poll out Friday.
Fully 64 percent of all Americans and 69 percent of voters said they disapproved of the commutation in the new poll. Broken down by party affiliation, 76 percent of Democrats, 47 percent of Republicans, and 80 percent of Independents said they disapproved.
Meanwhile, 84 percent of all adults and 84 percent of voters said they oppose a full presidential pardon for Libby. Broken down by party, 82 percent of Democrats, 70 percent of Republicans, and 97 percent of Independents oppose a pardon.
Defending his decision to grant Libby clemency, Bush indicated on Tuesday he hasn't ruled out granting the former White House aide a full pardon.
"I made a judgment, a considered judgment, and I believe it's the right decision to make in this case. I stand by it," Bush said. "As to the future, I rule nothing in and nothing out," he said as he left a visit to Walter Reed Medical Center.
Libby's prison time was imposed after a federal court convicted Libby of perjury, obstruction of justice and lying to investigators in the probe of the leak of the name of a CIA operative.
A commutation is distinct from a pardon, which is a complete eradication of a conviction record and makes it the same as if the person has never been convicted.
The poll, conducted on July 3-5, interviewed 1,100 adults and carries a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.
- CNN Political Researcher Xuan Thai
Giuliani, with wife Judith, campaigned in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina Friday.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - In his first campaign visit to South Carolina since his state chairman resigned amid cocaine charges, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani said Friday he was "shocked" when he learned of the news.
"It is a terrible thing when something like that happens to someone that is going to have to answer to it, but it is one of those things that is highly personal and all you can do is pray and hope that his rehabilitation works out and whatever debt to society he pays, he will be able to put it behind him," Giuliani said of his former South Carolina chairman, Thomas Ravenel, while campaigning in Myrtle Beach.
Ravenel, also the former South Carolina Treasurer, resigned both of his posts last month after he was indicted on cocaine distribution charges.
"I think everyone knows that in families - no matter how big they are - tragedies happen," the GOP presidential hopeful added. "Bad things happen.”
Ravenel's father, Arthur Ravenel Jr., a former U.S. congressman, continues to serve as a South Carolina adviser to Giuliani.
- CNN Ticker Producer Alexander Mooney
Dodd, right, with Paul Simon on the campaign trail in Iowa.
Huckabee has three concerts planned this weekend.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Looking to turn up the volume on their White House bids, a couple of so-called second tier presidential candidates are adding a musical twist to the campaign trail this week.
Connecticut Democratic Sen. Chris Dodd, in Iowa, is hitting the trail with Grammy-award winning singer/songwriter Paul Simon. Simon joined Dodd on Friday in Mason City, and will travel with the Connecticut Democrat to Fort Dodge, Sioux City, Carroll, and Council Bluffs over the next two days.
Simon, who Dodd called a "longtime friend," is expected to perform in Fort Dodge.
The band will perform Friday night at a house party in Dover before heading to Nashua for an outdoor concert Saturday afternoon. Huckabee and his band will also perform Saturday night in Concord at a campaign fundraiser.
- CNN Ticker Producer Alexander Mooney
Gore is making the rounds to promote his Live Earth concerts this weekend.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Former Vice President Al Gore said his son Albert III is now in "the right place," following Wednesday's arrest after Orange Country police found a variety of drugs in the younger Gore's car.
"We're very happy he's getting treatment and that nobody was hurt and he's in the right place and has asked for the right kind of treatment," Gore told CNN's John King on American Morning.
Gore refused to elaborate on the type of treatment his son was undergoing, saying, “We are treating it as a private family matter.”
The former vice president, on the air to promote his Live Earth concert series this weekend, also refused to say whether he was gravitating toward any of the Democratic presidential candidates, noting the election is "500 days away." But he added all the presidential candidates are treating the environment as a “side issue.”
- CNN Ticker Producer Alexander Mooney
GOP Sen. Pete Domenici called for a change of policy in Iraq Thursday, making him the third veteran Republican to break ranks with President Bush over the issue in the last two weeks.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - As another key Republican senator called for President Bush to change strategies in Iraq, a top U.S. General said pulling out the extra troops in the coming months would be “a mess.”
Responding to a question from CNN Senior Pentagon Correspondent Jamie McIntyre in a video briefing, Iraq Commander Major General Rick Lynch said, “Those surge forces are giving us the capability we have now to take the fight to the enemy. And the enemy only responds to force and we now have that force. We can conduct detailed, kinetic strikes, we can do cordon and searches, and we can deny the enemy the sanctuaries. If those surge forces go away, that capability goes away, and the Iraqi security forces aren't ready yet to do that. So now what you're going to find, if you did that, is you'd find the enemy regaining ground, re-establishing the sanctuary, building more IEDs, carrying those IEDs in Baghdad and the violence would escalate. It'd be a mess.“
General Lynch said the extra forces are needed to “mature the situation” and allow them to turn areas over to Iraqi security forces so they can start withdrawing US troops, but “that’s not going to happen any time soon.”
Lynch said one of his key rules of war fighting is “everything takes longer than you think.”
- Political Desk Managing Editor Steve Brusk
President Bush, center, with Washington Nationals' president Stan Kasten, left, general manager, Jim Bowden and part owner, Mark Lerner, back row, at RFK Stadium Thursday.
WASHINGTON (CNN) – The President and first lady departed for Camp David Friday morning, where Mr. Bush will celebrate his 61st birthday.
Mr. Bush said “thank you” to a shouted happy birthday as he walked to Marine One on the White House South Lawn.
Thursday evening, the President went to RFK Stadium where he watched about six innings of the Washington Nationals-Chicago Cubs game. He arrived in the first inning, sitting in a skybox with members of the Lerner family that owns the team, General Manager Jim Bowden and Team President Stan Kasten.
Pool reporters at the game say a foul ball hit by Nationals’ catcher Brian Schneider hit off the presidential skybox in the 2nd inning, but bounced back down to the seats below. No word what the health-conscious president actually ate in the box, but the group shared hot dogs, peanuts, Cracker Jacks, nachos, chicken tenders, soda and water.
This was the fourth time Mr. Bush has attended a Nationals game since baseball returned to Washington in 2005. The Nationals lost 4-2, making the home team’s record 2-2 when the president is in attendance.
- CNN Political Desk Managing Editor Steve Brusk
Obama raised nearly $33 million last quarter.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - For the first time in many years, Democratic candidates for president are raising more money than Republican candidates, according to the second quarter fundraising figures just released by the top candidates.
You think the voters are uninterested and uninvolved this early in the campaign? Think again.
"This is a record breaking amount of money, and this is a record breaking cycle," said Sheila Krumholz from the Center for Responsive Politics. "This will be like no other presidential election before."
Look at the amount of money being raised. In the second quarter of the year before each of the past three presidential elections, the total amounts raised were $34.1 million (1995), $55.3 million (1999) and $65.9 million (2003).
This year, we have second quarter totals for the top three candidates in each party. Those six candidates alone raised $110.7 million.
Why are people giving candidates so much money? Krumholz attributed it to "the lack of public funds being used this time, the increased competitiveness, not having an incumbent in the race. This is just an unusual race on many accounts."
It’s unusual for another reason, too: Democratic candidates are outpacing Republicans. In the second quarter of the year before the 1996 election, Republicans outraised the Democrat, Bill Clinton, $24.5 million to $9.6 million. Okay, but Clinton was running unopposed for the Democratic nomination.
In the second quarter of 1999, Republicans way outraised Democrats $50.2 million to $16.1 million, even though both party nominations were contested. Okay, you could argue that eight Republicans were running and only two Democrats.
In the second quarter of 2003, Republicans again raised more money ($35.1 million to $30.8 million). That year, nine Democrats were running and George W. Bush was unopposed.
In the second quarter of this year, totals for the top three candidates in each party show that, for the first time in recent years, Democrats are outraising Republicans - by more than $26 million ($68.5 million to $42.2 million).
Gephardt will throw his support behind Clinton Thursday.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Another big-name endorsement for Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton. Former House Democratic Leader Dick Gephardt announced his support for the junior senator from New York Thursday.
The long-time former congressman from Missouri could help Clinton out in the neighboring state of Iowa, which kicks off the presidential primary calendar. Gephardt’s a known commodity in Iowa. He won the Iowa caucuses when he first ran for president in 1988. But Gephardt didn’t fare nearly as well in Iowa when he made another stab at the White House in 2004. That year, he dropped his bid one day after finishing fourth in the caucuses.
The larger question concerning these big-name endorsements: do they really matter? The answer, as in many things in politics, is yes and no.
Campaigns love to unveil these big-name endorsements because, as political analyst Stuart Rothenberg says, “They are trying to create a sense of momentum, a sense of a bandwagon effect.”
But do they? Endorsements are successful only if they pay off. Rothenberg says “endorsements can matter if they can somehow translate into fundraising, or if they can somehow transfer into grassroots support.”
Whether they actually do is another matter.