Dodd greets a supporter in Davenport, Iowa earlier this month.
(CNN)–Senator Christopher Dodd disagrees with the classification of presidential candidates in various tiers of competition for the party nomination. "Celebrity and money are not going to decide this race," the Democrat from Connecticut said. "And people I think take offense at it in these early primary and caucus states. They want to hear you, they want to see you."
Dodd made his comments Saturday to reporters in Salt Lake City, Utah, following his address to the Utah Democratic state convention. He took issue with a question on how he planned to compete with fellow candidates who have raised more money for their campaigns.
"The jury is still very out on this, and the question starting to be asked is who is prepared to be president, not just whether you are well known or have a larger war chest than someone else," he said. "As that question gets asked more and more, I feel more and more confident we can win these caucuses and primaries."
When asked if he had any reaction to the private comments between rivals Senator Hillary Clinton, and John Edwards discussing how to thin out the number of candidates participating in presidential debates, he offered, "I'd remind them the mic is always on."
– CNN Political Desk Editor Jamie Crawford
Brownback is making social issues a centerpiece of his campaign.
DES MOINES, Iowa (CNN) - Republican presidential candidate Sam Brownback kicked off a three-day series of events in Iowa on Friday with Bobby Schindler, the brother of the late Terri Schiavo, whose death sparked controversy over a person's right to choose to die.
At a campaign stop in West Des Moines Saturday, the Republican senator from Kansas said the name for the "Pro-life, Whole-life" tour was created because it "applies to everybody at every stage in life."
"It's about life in the womb being sacred, unique, the child of a living God, but it also applies to Terry Schiavo's situation," Brownback said.
He emphasized that the best way to change the current situation surrounding pro-life issues on all fronts is to appoint judges who have similar ideals.
"We are one justice away from overturning Roe v. Wade," Brownback said. "I want to be the president that appoints that justice so that we can end this...It's a fight we're ultimately going to win because we're right."
The two Democratic presidential hopefuls had an unscripted moment Thursday at the conclusion of the NAACP candidate forum where they were overheard talking about how to thin out the number of candidates participating in these presidential events.
At the conclusion of the forum, Edwards approached Clinton on stage to talk, and the two expressed frustration over the number of candidates in the debate forum and the time allotted for answers.
The open microphone caught the following exchange:
Clinton: "We've got to talk, because they are just being trivialized."
Edwards: "They are not serious."
Clinton: “I think there was an effort by our campaigns to do that. That got somehow detoured. We got to get back to it, because that's all we're going to do."
Clinton: "Our guys should talk."
While Clinton and Edwards did not specifically mention any candidate by name, Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio, posted a scathing statement on his website condemning his two rivals for the Democratic presidential nomination.
“Candidates, no matter how important or influential they perceive themselves to be, do not have and should not have the power to determine who is allowed to speak to the American public and who is not,” Kucinich said. “Imperial candidates are as repugnant to the American people and to our Democracy as an imperial President.”
Eric Schultz, a spokesman for Edwards’ presidential campaign, said the former North Carolina senator was not suggesting excluding candidates, but instead is proposing to “break up the field into smaller groups for real debates.”
McCain campaigned in New Hampshire Saturday.
(CNN)–Capping off a week of challenging news for his presidential campaign, Senator John McCain seemed somewhat unfazed by all the developments. "I've had tough times in my life. This is a day at the beach compared to some others," the Republican from Arizona, and former prisoner of war said at a campaign stop Saturday.
After the departure of several key staff members, and disappointing second quarter fund raising numbers, it was also revealed that the campaign only had $2 million in the bank, but he also has nearly two million in debts. Still, after raising more than $20 in the first six months of the year, McCain still expressed confidence in the viability of his campaign.
"I know how to campaign. In the state of New Hampshire, I can win in New Hampshire as I did in 2000. And I know that I can and I know that I will," he said to an audience in Claremont, New Hampshire. "I never was going to rely on money to win this campaign. I never was a good fund raiser, I'll admit it," he continued. "But I can out campaign any of these guys, and I will, and I can, and we're going to be doing just fine."
More departures from the campaign may be imminent. CNN has learned more staff members are expected to leave by Monday. A source tells CNN's Candy Crowley at least one senior staff member is among those who plan to call it quits.
McCain also campaigned in New Hampshire on Friday as well.
– CNN Political Desk Editor Jamie Crawford
(CNN) - An Iraqi and Afghan war veteran on Saturday took some potshots at the Bush administration's actions and strategies in the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts, saying the government "continually mismanages and degrades the military I have come to love."
"We need an effective offensive strategy that takes the fight to our real enemies abroad," said Brandon Friedman, speaking in the Democratic weekly radio address.
Politicians normally speak in the weekly address, but today, the Democrats chose a war veteran. Friedman served as an infantry officer in the U.S. Army's 101st Airborne Division. He led a platoon in Afghanistan in 2002, commanded troops in Iraq, and was awarded two bronze stars.
Friedman argued for a swift political solution in Iraq, the removal of troops from the middle of Iraq's civil warfare, and more focus on the global war on terror in places like Afghanistan.
"President Bush is keeping our already-overextended troops in the middle of a civil war, instead of deferring to military leaders who agree that we need to transition the mission to focus on a political solution, not a military one."
He argued, like many war critics have that "the Iraq war has kept us from devoting assets we need to fight terrorists worldwide, as evidenced by the fact that Osama bin Laden is still on the loose and al Qaeda has been able to rebuild."
He commended Democrats "standing up to President Bush on Iraq", and urged Republicans with similar sentiments to "vote with the majority" on issues concerning Iraq.
Friedman said the Iraqi government "has met none of the critical political or economic benchmarks they set for themselves.
"It's past time for the transition to diplomatic efforts in Iraq that Democrats have long demanded."
In his Saturday radio address, President Bush reiterated the points he made earlier this week about the interim report on progress in the Iraq war.
The report, which included 18 benchmarks created by Congress, showed that only eight benchmarks have been satisfactorily reached by the Iraqi government, a number that Bush said "is a cause for optimism."
The eight areas included the establishment of joint security stations in Baghdad neighborhoods, and the contribution of $10 billion of Iraqi money towards reconstruction .
"This report shows that conditions can change," said Bush, "progress can be made, and the fight in Iraq can be won."
WASHINGTON (CNN) - White House spokesman Tony Snow was left a bit verbally singed Friday after suggesting to reporters that Iraqi lawmakers - under fire in Washington for failing to make progress on meeting political benchmarks - were taking August off to escape Baghdad's scorching summer temperatures.
Asked by ABC News correspondent Martha Raddatz during a press briefing if Iraqi officials were planning to take August off, despite another progress report due in September, Snow said, "It looks like they may, yes, just like the U.S. Congress is."
Pressed as to whether American officials had tried to talk Iraqi leaders out of their vacation, Snow said, "You know, it's 130 degrees in Baghdad in August. I'll pass on your recommendation."
"Well, Tony, Tony, I'm sorry," Raddatz replied. "There are a lot of things that happen by September, and it's 130 degrees for the U.S. military also on the ground."
"That's a good point," conceded Snow, who also noted that "it's 130 degrees for the Iraq military."
Snow went on to say "the Iraqis understand the importance" of making political progress, although he insisted that September's assessment by Gen. David Petraeus, the U.S. commander in Iraq, is a report and not a "deadline."
Snow also said reporters should not assume that just because Iraqi lawmakers are in recess in August "that nothing is going on."
"Let's see what the parliament does during the course of this month. Let's also see what happens, because quite often, when parliaments do not meet, there are also continuing meetings on the side," Snow said. "There will be progress, I'm sure, on a number of fronts."