WASHINGTON (CNN) - The tiny town of Columbus, Kentucky might only boast a population of 229, but it’s beating out mega cities like Los Angeles and Dallas for the privilege of hosting former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards for a special visit to discuss his bid for the Democratic presidential nomination.
Edwards committed to answer questions in "whatever city or town has the most demanders" on www.eventful.com, a Web site where users petition bands, artists and - increasingly - presidential candidates to appear in their hometowns.
Over 1,600 users have so far "demanded" Edwards visit Columbus, putting this rural Western Kentucky community ahead of several major metropolitan areas. They have been encouraged by former resident Shawn Dixon, who started an online push for Columbus to highlight rural communities.
"Too often rural America is left out of the debate on important policy issues," said Dixon, who pushed the contest on blogs and social networking sites. The effort has led people in other rural communities to support the possible visit.
"Columbus has a population of 229, but really our constituency is the tens of millions of Americans who live in small towns across the country," said Dixon, who says he is a Democrat.
The month-long contest closes Wednesday, after which the Edwards campaign will announce the winner. Local residents have been trying to sweeten the deal, posting comments on the site highlighting the neighboring town's bed and breakfast and hair cuts that "cost less than $10, including tip."
- CNN Internet Reporter Abbi Tatton
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Sen. Barack Obama, D-Illinois, is breaking fundraising records in his bid for the White House, but some people seem to be questioning the way he is adding up his numbers.
Even though he is a fresh face in a presidential race that boasts several veteran U.S. senators, current and former governors and the former mayor of New York City, Obama is beating them all when it comes to individual donors and the amount raised so far in the battle for the White House.How many individual contributors you ask? How about 258,000. He is the only African-American candidate in the race and on the campaign trail, Obama is treated like a rock star.
"You get stories of people who come to these Obama events and say, 'I haven't much been interested in politics, here, I'll give you the money out of my handbag,'" said John Dickerson, a political journalist with the on-line publication Slate. "That gives a sense of momentum, a sense of movement."
The junior senator from Illinois, who has been in office a little more than two years, is growing his supporter base in a non-traditional way. People who buy Obama campaign hats, buttons and bumper stickers are being counted as part of that record breaking number of contributors. At least four other presidential candidates: Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona; Rep. Tom Tancredo, R-Colorado; Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-California; and Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio; also count such people as donors.
Unlike most of his Democratic opponents, Obama sells his campaign merchandise directly instead of outsourcing it.
But the Obama campaign notes that people who have bought campaign merchandise only account for about one percent of all of his donors.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Christopher Dodd urged Congress on Wednesday to stop funding combat missions in Iraq and use the billions in savings to rebuild the nation's military.
The Connecticut senator said he will introduce an amendment to the defense authorization bill that would remedy the situation.
"Millions of dollars a week are being squandered in Iraq ... while our nation's military is calling out for additional resources to repair the damage caused by the administration's policies," Dodd said.
His proposal came as the Senate convened for what its Democratic leaders said would be an all-night debate on the war in advance of a hoped-for vote on another amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act. If approved, U.S. combat forces would return home by April 30.
Senate Majority Leader Carl Levin, chairman of the Armed Services Committee, said he hopes the amendment introduced by him and Sen. Jack Reed of Rhode Island can go to the chamber's floor for a vote on Thursday.
However, the chances of that happening are slim.
Compiled by Stephen Bach, CNN Washington Bureau
Making news today...
* "Frustrated by Republican efforts to block votes on bringing American combat troops home from Iraq, Senate Democratic leaders rolled out sleeping cots Tuesday for an all-night debate on the war."
"Republican presidential candidate John McCain of Arizona finished his speech around 4:10 a.m. He was followed by White House hopeful Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y.
Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts, the Democratic presidential nominee in the last election, had the floor as the sun started rising over Capitol Hill." (AP)
"The office of Senate Majority Whip Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.) dispatched interns to buy toothpaste, toothbrushes and deodorant for delivery to GOP leadership offices, with a note offering the 'supplies for your sleepless night.' It added: 'Help us bring an end to this war.'" (Washington Post)
CNN's Dana Bash reports a procedural vote is expected at 11 am ET on the Democrats measure to start bringing troops home in 120 days, with a withdrawal deadline of April 30, 2008.
* "Iowa Democrats will get a DVD in their mailboxes from presidential candidate Hillary Clinton that explains her plan to end the war in Iraq." The DVD, which "includes a conversation Clinton had with Iowans in Muscatine about the war," is expected to arrive early next week. (Des Moines Register)
* "John Edwards' wife flashed her fangs yesterday in a catty attack on Democratic front-runner Hillary Rodham Clinton." (New York Post)
"'She's just not as vocal a women's advocate as I want to see,' Elizabeth Edwards said in a wide ranging interview with the online magazine, Salon. 'John is.'" (The Ticker)
Also, Elizabeth Edwards says John "is a tough guy "who can stare the worst in the face and not blink" in an ad set to start airing Wednesday in New Hampshire." (AP)
* "In what may be the most anticipated event of this election cycle, superstar talk-show host and media mogul Oprah Winfrey is opening her famed Santa Barbara-area estate to host a four-star fundraiser for fellow Chicagoan Barack Obama on Sept. 8." (Los Angeles Times)
* And the amount Clinton, Obama, and Edwards are spending on staff salaries may offer some unique insight into their early state strategies. Find out how in Hot Topics below!
* The president visits Man & Machine, Inc., in Landover, MD, at 10:30 am ET. He'll take a 10:35 am ET tour the company, which manufactures "water-resistant computer accessories designed for the cost-effective support of patient safety and infection control on hospitals, medical laboratories, and industrial environments." http://www.man-machine.com/profile.htm
After the tour, Bush will participate in a 10:50 am ET roundtable discussion on health care initiatives.
Also on the Political Radar:
* Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) gives a morning speech, "Changing the Odds for Urban America," at the Town Hall Education Arts & Recreation Center in Southeast DC.
* John Edwards wraps his "Road to One America" tour with stops in Wise, VA; Whitesburg, KY; and Prestonsburg, KY. Tonight, Edwards attends a 7 pm ET concert with bluegrass legend Ralph Stanley in Roanoke, VA.
* Rudy Giuliani holds town hall meetings in Council Bluffs and Sioux City, IA.
* Mitt Romney speaks to the El Paso County GOP at The Broadmoor in Colorado Springs, CO, at 9 pm ET.
Political Hot Topics
(Today's top political stories from news organizations across the country)
NIE: "PERSISTENT AND EVOLVING TERRORIST THREAT" OVER NEXT 3 YEARS: Al-Qaeda has reestablished its central organization, training infrastructure and lines of global communication over the past two years, putting the United States in a "heightened threat environment" despite expanded worldwide counterterrorism efforts, according to a new intelligence estimate. Intelligence officials attributed the al-Qaeda gains primarily to its establishment of a safe haven in ungoverned areas of northwestern Pakistan. Its affiliation with the Sunni insurgent group al-Qaeda in Iraq, the report said, has helped it to "energize" extremists elsewhere and has aided Osama bin Laden's recruitment and funding. Washington Post: Al-Qaeda's Gains Keep U.S. at Risk, Report Says
VA SECRETARY NICHOLSON STEPS DOWN: The head of the Department of Veterans Affairs resigned Tuesday after serving two and a half years, a term marred by budget shortfalls and the theft of personal data from millions of veterans. The official, Jim Nicholson, the secretary of veterans affairs, said in a statement that he was ready to step down as the chief of the nation's largest health care system and return to the private sector, especially as he approached his 70th birthday. "It was not an easy decision," said Mr. Nicholson, a Vietnam veteran. "I care for veterans. That's why I took this job." He said he was proud that his leadership had resulted in establishing electronic medical records for all of the nearly eight million people in the V.A. health care program. New York Times: V.A. Chief to Step Down, Citing Return to Private Life
VITTER RETURNS TO THE CAPITOL: At 10:30 a.m. Tuesday, Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) made his post-scandal debut on Capitol Hill. He emerged at a Commerce subcommittee hearing, took several swigs from a Starbucks cup, asked a question of the witnesses, sat for another 30 minutes as the media multiplied, and then bolted. Literally, he bolted through a maze of offices and popped out a door halfway down the hall. Vitter was trapped, and he knew it - or heard it: the reporters with boom mikes and in high heels chasing after him. So he stopped. "I look forward today to being back at work, really focused on a lot of important issues for the people of Louisiana," Vitter said. The Politico: Scandalized Vitter has tough day at work
DRUG OFFICIALS APPEARED WITH "VULNERABLE REPUBLICAN CONGRESSMEN": White House officials arranged for top officials at the Office of National Drug Control Policy to help as many as 18 vulnerable Republican congressmen by making appearances and sometimes announcing new federal grants in the lawmakers' districts in the months leading up to the November 2006 elections, a Democratic lawmaker said yesterday. Rep. Henry A. Waxman (Calif.), chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, said documents obtained by his panel suggest that the appearances by the drug control officials were part of a larger White House effort to politicize the work of federal agencies that "may be more widespread than previously known." Washington Post: White House Had Drug Officials Appear With GOP Candidates
MEMBERS, STAFF "HYPERSENSITIVE" TO NEW ETHICS RULES AT PARIS AIR SHOW: The new ethics environment may have marked the end of the affair between Capitol Hill decision-makers and their lobbyist suitors. But they'll always have Paris. The Congressional delegation that jetted across the ocean in late June for the biennial Paris Air Show took in a whirlwind of information about the aerospace industry during daytime visits to exhibits at Le Bourget airfield. And in the evenings, they were treated to some of the finest the city has to offer, courtesy of major defense contractors. The wining and dining that took place during the four-night trip apparently all falls within the bounds of Congressional ethics rules. That's because despite a new ban on gifts and free meals from companies with business before the government — a regulation in force in the House and pending in the Senate — the rules carve out an exemption for widely attended events. Sponsors of the lavish receptions in Paris said they secured advance clearance for their events from the Congressional ethics panels. Nevertheless, lobbyists and staff in attendance said a new sensitivity to staying within the lines prompted caution about just how fully Hill types should indulge. Roll Call: Members Flying High in City of Light
SQUEAKER IN GA SPECIAL ELECTION: Two conservative Republicans in eastern Georgia were locked in a regional tug-of-war late Tuesday to decide who would replace the late U.S. Rep. Charlie Norwood in Washington. With more than 85 percent of the run-off vote counted, Athens physician Paul Broun held a shifting but significant lead over Jim Whitehead, a former state senator from the Augusta area. A victory by Broun, who finished a distant second to Whitehead in a June 19 election, would represent a surprising upset — and a blow to Augusta, home to the seven-term Norwood, who died in February of a lengthy lung ailment and cancer. Whitehead, owner of a small chain of tire stores, has led in fund-raising throughout the contest and was the choice of many in the state Republican establishment. Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Broun leading run-off for Norwood's seat
IF THOMPSON DECLARES, NBC TO PULL SOME LAW & ORDER RERUNS: If Fred Thompson makes it official and throws his hat in the ring for President, NBC will pull future reruns of "Law & Order" featuring the actor after Sept. 1, executive producer Dick Wolf said yesterday. The former two-term Republican senator from Tennessee recently asked to be cut from the show, leading to speculation he'd run for the White House. That led to chatter about the equal-time rules, which force broadcasters to provide equal time to all politicians running for office. Wolf, reading from an official NBC statement yesterday, said the rule applies when a person legally qualifies as a candidate. "If Fred Thompson formally declares his intention to run for President, NBC will not schedule any further repeats of 'Law & Order' featuring Mr. Thompson beyond those already scheduled, which conclude on Saturday, Sept. 1," Wolf said... Thompson fans would, however, be able to see him in reruns airing on TNT. New York Daily News: If Fred runs, he'll be out of 'L&O' reruns
"I FEEL LIKE I'M HOME," SAYS OBAMA IN IA: [H]ere in Elkader, population 1,465, the U.S. Census counts three African-American residents. But Obama says race will be less important ultimately than whether voters think he can deliver universal health care, energy independence, an end to the Iraq war — and victory in November 2008. The fact that he doesn't look like the first 43 U.S. presidents could be an advantage, he adds: "There's no doubt that the day I'm inaugurated, the world looks at America differently. That provides us some important political capital." Back in reality, six months before the Iowa caucuses, the first-term senator is trailing New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton in national polls and some state polls. But he has left her in the dust on donors and fundraising for the primaries. USA Today: Illinois' Obama stakes out turf in neighboring state
OPRAH TO THROW BIG CA FUNDRAISER FOR OBAMA: Memo to political Hollywood: Better fuel up the private jet and cancel the chauffeur's night off. In what may be the most anticipated event of this election cycle, superstar talk-show host and media mogul Oprah Winfrey is opening her famed Santa Barbara-area estate to host a four-star fundraiser for fellow Chicagoan Barack Obama on Sept. 8, according to e-mail invites sent out to industry glitterati early Tuesday morning. The high-powered event revives the Illinois Democrat's campaign in the entertainment industry, which has been forking over tons of money in recent months to Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.). It shows the fight is far from over: The Obama-Winfrey headliner is like a glitzy re-release of a film in anticipation of Oscar season. Los Angeles Times: Winfrey, Obama just the ticket
HILLARY TO MAIL DVD ON IRAQ TO IOWANS: Iowa Democrats will get a DVD in their mailboxes from presidential candidate Hillary Clinton that explains her plan to end the war in Iraq. Campaign staff members for Clinton, a U.S. senator from New York, said the DVD includes a conversation Clinton had with Iowans in Muscatine about the war. The DVD is expected to arrive in mailboxes early next week, her staff said. Clinton's staff declined to say how many DVDs are being mailed, how much the effort cost, and whether Iowans will be the only recipients. Des Moines Register: Clinton mails DVDs on plan for Iraq
EDWARDS' POVERTY STRATEGY RISKY FOR FUNDRAISING: Though Edwards has not abandoned his concern for the middle class, poverty is now his issue. It is a risky switch. Just under 13 percent of the U.S. population lives in poverty, a shockingly high figure in a nation where hundreds of thousands of people recently lined up for the privilege of buying a $599 iPhone. But the American middle class is vastly larger, probably about 75 percent of the population. Further, middle-class Americans, unlike poor Americans, have time and money to give to political campaigns. Which is why most presidential campaigns prefer to champion middle-class causes, while paying only lip service to poor causes. The Politico: Edwards risks backing the poor
COMPARISONS TO BOBBY KENNEDY: As former Sen. John Edwards was touring [Marks, MS] the other day, a woman mistook him for a member of the Kennedy clan... It is a comparison that Edwards, a North Carolina Democrat, has implicitly invited as he wraps up a tour of poverty-stricken areas around the South and Midwest on Wednesday, a faint echo of the lengthy tours that Robert F. Kennedy made before his assassination in 1968. At the same time, though, Edwards faces some obvious hurdles to pulling it off. As a man who lives in a 28,000-square-foot mansion and who recently made news with his $400 haircuts and his work for a hedge fund, he faces questions about whether his heart is really with the poor. Chicago Tribune: Edwards' poverty tour recalls days of RFK
ELIZABETH EDWARDS TOUTS JOHN'S "UNBELIEVABLE TOUGHNESS" IN NEW AD: Elizabeth Edwards tells voters her husband, Democratic presidential hopeful John Edwards, is a tough guy "who can stare the worst in the face and not blink" in an ad set to start airing Wednesday in New Hampshire. Elizabeth Edwards, who makes frequent campaign stops in early voting states for her husband, appears in the ad that the campaign hopes will highlight the couple's marriage. "I have been blessed for the last 30 years to be married to the most optimistic person that I have ever met," she says as photographs from the campaign fade in and out. "But at the same time he has an unbelievable toughness, particularly about other people, and that is his ability to fight for them." AP via Yahoo! News: Edwards ad touts him as a tough guy
...SAYS JOHN IS MORE EFFECTIVE WOMEN'S ADVOCATE THAN HILLARY: Elizabeth Edwards sought to punch holes in the notion that New York Sen. Hillary Clinton is the women's candidate in the 2008 race for the White House. For Edwards, that title falls to her husband, former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards, who is competing against Clinton for the Democratic presidential nomination. "She's just not as vocal a women's advocate as I want to see," Elizabeth Edwards said in a wide ranging interview with the online magazine, Salon. "John is." Edwards particularly offered a sharp assessment of Clinton's approach to providing healthcare to everyone. "On the issues that are important to women, she has not … well, healthcare, that's enormously important to women, all the polls say, and what she says now is, we're going to have a national conversation about healthcare," Edwards said in the Salon interview. The Ticker: Elizabeth Edwards offers sharp critique of Hillary
SALARY EXPENSES SHOW CLINTON, EDWARDS "LESS FOCUSED" ON PALMETTO STATE: A review of campaign spending on staff salaries suggests that Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) and former Sen. John Edwards (D-N.C.) are less focused on South Carolina than they are on other early primary and caucus states. Black voters are expected to make up about half of the voters in South Carolina's Democratic Party, which may have persuaded Clinton and Edwards to concentrate their resources in other states, such as Nevada, which has a strong union presence and growing Hispanic population. Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) spent $150,000 on staff salaries in South Carolina, according to second-quarter finance reports filed with the Federal Election Commission (FEC). In total, Obama's campaign spent $480,000 in the Palmetto State between April 1 and June 30. His campaign has also opened two offices in the state. Clinton spent $38,000 on staff salaries and $120,000 overall in South Carolina, according to FEC data. A review of her campaign records shows that she paid only seven staffers based in South Carolina. By contrast, she employed 30 staffers living full-time in New Hampshire and 25 staffers based in Nevada. The Hill: Staffer pay reveals '08 Dem focus
1/3 OF BRACEWELL & GIULIANI ATTORNEYS GIVE TO OTHER CANDIDATES: With partners like these, who needs enemies? Rudy Giuliani is a named partner at Bracewell & Giuliani, but that hasn't stopped some of the law firm's attorneys from backing his rivals for President. Nearly one-third of the firm's attorneys who made a personal contribution to a presidential campaign during the past three months picked a candidate whose name is not on their paychecks, Federal Election Commission records reveal. Four gave to Bill Richardson, three to Barack Obama and one to Christopher Dodd, all Democrats. One backed Giuliani GOP rival Mitt Romney. While none donated to Hillary Clinton, one gave to Emily's List, a group that has endorsed her. New York Daily News: Attorneys in Rudy firm buck boss
RICHARDSON, IN NH, SAYS 1ST ACT WOULD BE TO "GET US OUT OF THE WAR": Democratic presidential hopeful Bill Richardson told a gathering of Carroll County Democrats yesterday afternoon that his first act as President would be to "get us out of the war." His statement was greeted with applause from about 60 people who turned out for his campaign stop in the former Carroll County Courthouse, as were later remarks that he would close down the prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, where terrorist suspects have been held for more than five years. "I will restore the right of habeas corpus. Torture is not acceptable. I will be a President who follows the Constitution of the United States," said Richardson, New Mexico governor and former Clinton cabinet member who has previously expressed his support for withdrawing American forces from Iraq by the end of the year. New Hampshire Union Leader: Richardson: Iraq pullout a priority