WASHINGTON (CNN) - CNN has obtained an e-mail written by embattled Sen. David Vitter to supporters on Tuesday, the day after he admitted that his telephone number turned up in the phone records of an escort service run by Deborah Jeane Palfrey, dubbed the ‘D.C. Madam.’
I write with great sadness, as well as great affection and respect for you as a friend, about disclosures that are appearing today in the media.
I have addressed this matter very directly (referring to the statement given to reporters), and deeply apologize again for letting you and others down. I also write today to say three other things.
First, thank you again for all the love and support you've always offered Wendy and myself. It is one of the greatest gifts we've been blessed with.
Second, our family will be fine, though we certainly appreciate your continuing thoughts and prayers. Those are a great comfort to all of us.
And third, I will live every day always striving to fully honor that friendship and those prayers.
– CNN Congressional Correspondent Ted Barrett
Boxer said Wednesday impeachment should be on the table.
NEW YORK (CNN) - You might call it the "i" word, the one that just won't go away: impeachment.
On Wednesday, the I-word came up for California Democrat Senator Barbara Boxer in an interview with talk radio’s Ed Schultz. When Schultz brought up the subject of impeachment, Boxer said “Look, I have always said it should be on the table” and called the Bush administration “as close as we've ever come to a dictatorship.”
Is impeachment really on the table? Democratic leaders say no and no.
Last November, then-House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi told reporters that even with Democrats winning control of Congress, “impeachment is off the table.” And her office reiterated that to CNN this week.
Jim Manley, spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, said, "It's not anything that Senator Reid could support, nor is it under consideration."
So if congressional leaders say impeachment proceedings will not happen under their watch, why bring it up?
CNN Political Editor Mark Preston says the rhetoric over impeachment is “red meat” meant to appease the Democratic base, which is frustrated with the war in Iraq. But talk is just talk, and political observers say that actually trying to impeach the president would be a bad move strategically. As Preston explains it, impeaching the president would actually hurt Democrats in their pursuit of the White House in 2008. “They would look partisan,” says Preston. “They would look petty.”
- CNN Producer Shirley Zilberstein
McCain said Friday he is confident he will win the GOP nomination.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Despite a shrinking staff and nearly depleted funds, Sen. John McCain said Friday his presidential bid is still headed to victory.
“We go to the town hall meetings, we fix our financial difficulties, and we win,” the Arizona Republican told reporters while campaigning in the crucial primary state of New Hampshire. “I am very confident; you can see the response you get here today from the people in New Hampshire.”
The GOP presidential hopeful also brushed aside suggestions he no longer has adequate recourses to compete in the early primary states after several key staff members departed following bleak second-quarter fundraising numbers and excessive spending.
"We've always had relatively small staff and we've never been able to compete on money. We'll win the same way we almost won in 2000," the Arizona Republican told reporters.
Asked about possible misspending by campaign staffers, in light of his years railing against misspending by Congress, McCain said, "When I see mistakes, I correct them."
McCain also acknowledged his stances on some of the most controversial issues have dogged his campaign. "My position on immigration was obviously not helpful with the Republican base," he said. McCain was among a bipartisan group of senators that worked out compromise legislation aimed at overhauling U.S. immigration laws. The bill was ultimately defeated in Congress, partly because many conservatives rallied against it, arguing it offered "amnesty" to illegal immigrants.
He added, "I think my position on the war in Iraq has obviously at least not been helpful with independents."
McCain has been a very public advocate of keeping U.S. troops in Iraq.
Sens. Lugar, above, and Warner are drafting an amendment that declares the Iraq authorization 'obsolete'
WASHINGTON (CNN) – Two leading Republican senators announced Friday they want to demand President Bush offer a plan to start reducing U.S. forces in Iraq by the end of the year.
Sens. John Warner of Virginia and Richard Lugar of Indiana are proposing an amendment to the Defense Authorization Bill that would also declare the Senate's 2002 authorization for the use of force in Iraq "obsolete" and in need of revision, Lugar says in a prepared statement to be delivered Monday on the floor of the Senate.
"We are hopeful that regardless of where senators stand on surge versus withdrawal, they will find our amendment to be a constructive bipartisan attempt to prepare for whatever policy follows in the coming months," the statement says.
"With this goal in mind, our amendment mandates that the administration immediately initiate planning for post-September contingencies, including a drawdown or re-deployment of forces. It requires those plans to be presented to Congress by October 16 of this year, and it states that the plans should be designed to be executable beginning not later than December 31."
Lugar's statement says the so-called "surge," or buildup of troops in Iraq, "must not be an excuse for failing to prepare for the next phase of our involvement in Iraq, whether that is withdrawal, redeployment, or some other option. We saw in 2003 after the initial invasion of Iraq, the disastrous results of failing to plan adequately for contingencies."
Gen. David Petraeus, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, will report to Congress on the state of the war in September.
Related: Bush war policy needs more time, says Rice
TIME.Com: Bad News in Bush's Iraq Report Card
Vitter is expected to return to the Senate next week.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Embattled Sen. David Vitter, R-Louisiana - who has not been seen on Capitol Hill since allegations were raised Monday he used a D.C. prostitution service - will return to the Senate next week, just in time for the first scheduled vote of the week on Tuesday, according to Sen. Jim DeMint, R-South Carolina., who has exchanged e-mails with Vitter.
"Obviously, he has a whole lot of remorse and wants to put this behind him. He seems to be handling it in a very responsible way. He is saying he was wrong. He made terrible mistakes. He is not trying to diminish the problem," said DeMint who is the first person CNN has spoken to who has communicated directly with Vitter since the scandal broke.
Vitter admitted Monday that his telephone number turned up in the phone records of an escort service run by Deborah Jeane Palfrey, the woman dubbed the “D.C. Madam." The records date from before he won his Senate seat in 2004.
"This was a very serious sin in my past for which I am, of course, completely responsible," Vitter said in a statement given to reporters Monday night. "Several years ago, I asked for and received forgiveness from God and from my wife in confession and marriage counseling."
DeMint said there are no indications that Vitter, a first-term senator who is married with children, will leave the Senate.
"He'll be back next week," said DeMint who is close with Vitter.
Watch CNN’s Carol Costello report on McCain’s latest campaign troubles.
CONCORD, New Hampshire (CNN) – Sen. John McCain is not throwing in the towel, even though the Arizona Republican has to rebuild a presidential campaign beset by financial woes, staff resignations and questions about viability.
This time last year it was different as his trusted campaign operative John Weaver was putting the building blocks in place for a national campaign. Earlier this week, Weaver and campaign manager Terry Nelson resigned after McCain appeared to lose confidence in their ability to lead the campaign that had only $2 million in the bank after raising more than $20 million in the first six months of the year. Several senior staffers followed Weaver and Nelson out the door - a few more are expected to resign by Monday.
Despite the shake up or shake out, McCain told his remaining staffers Thursday that he was moving forward and expressed confidence in his ability to win the GOP presidential nomination.
"It was basically 'We're are going to win, I am going to be president and here's why,'" said a senior McCain advisor.
The advisor added, "Politically, McCain is more comfortable and better suited to an underdog campaign." McCain is now looking at a slimmed down approach, a far contrast from the operation he built that was a merging of his inner circle former Bush political operatives.
The advisor said he believes that small donors will begin giving money to McCain again in September, believing fundraising in the second quarter "dried up because of immigration" - an issue that cost the Arizona senator support on the right.
Rick Davis, a longtime advisor, will lead the operation and Mike Dennehy, his former national political director returns to the fold with an expanded portfolio as does his former Finance Director Carla Eudy.
Dennehy will remain based in New Hampshire - the state McCain won in 2000 and a key part to his new strategy.
"For those of us who went through 2000, we know the most important thing, is to put John McCain in front of voters,” Dennehy said in an interview Friday morning.
– CNN Senior Political Correspondent Candy Crowley
Watch this week’s “What If?” segment.
WASHINGTON (CNN) – What if the U.S. were to pull its troops completely out of Iraq?
That’s the question on many minds especially as a slew of Republican senators begin questioning the White House about U.S. involvement. Some experts warn that chaos would ensue while others say that Iraq is already a lost cause.
CNN Special Correspondent Frank Sesno examines what might happen if the U.S. pulled out of Iraq today.
A source tells CNN mores staffers will depart McCain’s campaign next week.
WASHINGTON (CNN) – CNN has learned more staff members from Sen. John McCain’s struggling presidential bid are expected to depart the campaign by Monday, the latest in a string of setbacks for the Arizona Republican’s once surefire candidacy.
A source tells CNN’s Candy Crowley at least one senior staffer is among those who plan to call it quits by early next week.
The news comes days after McCain’s top two strategists were forced out following bleak second quarter fundraising numbers and excessive spending that left the campaign with a paltry $2 million cash on hand and $1.75 million in debt.
The campaign must officially report its financial status to the Federal Elections Commission by this Sunday.
On Thursday, two senior Iowa strategists also announced they were leaving the campaign. One of those departing, Ed Failor Jr. told CNN he still has a “great deal of respect for the senator.”
Meanwhile, news also surfaced Thursday that Florida State Rep. Bob Allen, a state co-chairman for McCain, was arrested for allegedly soliciting sex acts. Allen denies the charges and told CNN affiliate WFTV the incident was "a very big misunderstanding."
McCain gets back on the campaign trail Friday, slated to visit the early-voting state of New Hampshire.
– CNN’s Candy Crowley contributed to this report
Watch CNN’s Abbi Tatton report
WASHINGTON (CNN) - In a new campaign tactic this week, Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama's campaign began promoting a series of book clubs in the key primary state of New Hampshire.
CNN Internet Reporter Abbi Tatton has a closer look at exactly what they're reading.
CNN has learned McCain’s campaign has only $250,000 left.
WASHINGTON (CNN) – CNN has learned the already-dire situation for Sen. John McCain's presidential campaign has actually gotten even worse, with two sources close to the candidate saying the campaign only has a paltry $250,000 left.
The sources tell CNN that next week the McCain campaign will reveal it has about $1.75 million in unpaid debts, wiping out the $2 million in cash-on-hand the campaign currently has in the bank.
It was not immediately clear whether the campaign debt must be repaid immediately or whether the debt can be paid back over time, including after the presidential campaign ends.
Even though McCain has raised just over $11 million overall in the last three months, his campaign has spent large sums of money, one of the primary reasons for the departure earlier this week of his top two strategists, Terry Nelson and John Weaver.
A McCain spokesman had no comment on the latest financial troubles, which will spark a new round of speculation about the candidate's viability. Campaign officials are expected to release details about campaign’s financial situation early next week.
– CNN White House Correspondent Ed Henry
TIME.com: Is John McCain's Candidacy Cooked?