McCain was in Iowa on Sunday
URBANDALE, Iowa (CNN)–At a press conference at his Iowa headquarters Sunday, John McCain told supporters and the press, as he's done before, that he is done discussing the campaign.
"I will answer any question except that," the GOP presidential candidate told a group of reporters. "I am happy about the state of our campaign. We will do fine... I will not discuss it any further as much as you want me to."
McCain said he was in the Hawkeye state to thank his supporters for their help and to tell them the campaign is doing 'great.'
"I'm very happy as to how we're going to do, and I'm very confident that we will win in Iowa."
McCain has come under some criticism for not spending enough time in the early caucus state of Iowa. Senior adviser to the campaign Chuck Larson said the last time the Arizona senator made a stop in the state was early June.
He told reporters he expects another stop Iowa in early August.
"Our organization in the state is very, very strong," Larson told CNN. When asked if he expects the staff that's in place now to remain with the campaign for good, Larson said, "I do yeah. Oh yeah."
Currently, there are six full-time McCain staff members in Iowa, down from what used to be 15. Almost all of the communications staff left the campaign in early July.
Before McCain opened the event up to reporters, he began by commenting on Tuesday's all-night debate over troop withdrawal from Iraq, something he likely knew would not be the subject of many questions.
"It was a joke and waste of the taxpayers' money," he said. "We can not set a date for withdrawal, and if we do, it will guarantee failure and it will guarantee the loss of additional brave young Americans' lives. I will hold that stand no matter what, and that is the correct stand for the future of this mission."
- CNN Iowa Producer Chris Welch
Huckabee fired a shot at the GOP frontrunners
(CNN) - Taking on top GOP challengers, Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee said in Texas this weekend that "people aren't going to find me in a YouTube moment" showing changes in key positions.
The comment was an apparent shot at GOP candidate Mitt Romney, R-Mass., and possible entrant to the race Fred Thompson, R-Tenn. Both have been the subjects of clips posted on YouTube in recent weeks showing different stands on abortion they took in previous statewide races.
In Amarillo on Saturday night, the former Arkansas governor said one of the reasons he considers himself most qualified to be president is because he holds "convictions that are consistent."
"People aren't going to find me in a YouTube moment from 10 years ago saying something substantially different than I'm saying today," he said.
Huckabee, an ordained Southern Baptist minister, delivered the sermon Sunday at an Amarillo church. He stayed away from politics in the address, focusing on the importance of humility and good deeds. But he told reporters that faith should be central to every politician's public and private life - and he said he cringes when he hears politicians say that faith doesn't affect the way they govern.
"Well, I make it very clear - it very much affects the way I govern," he said. "If a person says his or her faith is very separate and compartmentalized from all the decisions one makes, what it really says is their faith is insignificant and inconsequential."
- CNN Political Desk Managing Editor Steve Brusk
CHARLESTON, South Carolina (CNN) – Supporters of former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards have lined the road leading into the Citadel with about 40 Edwards for president signs, making them the first campaign to post signs at the site of Monday's CNN/YouTube/South Carolina Democratic Party presidential debate.
The signs are posted on Moultrie Street, which leads up to the Citadel's main gate.
The Edwards campaign also has a prominent sign on a movie theater marquee on King Street, where the campaign is hosting a debate watch party on Monday night.
Backers of New York Sen. Hillary Clinton also gathered on the state military college's campus Sunday to paint signs, but so far those have not yet been posted.
- CNN South Carolina Producer Peter Hamby
The stage is set for tomorrow’s Democratic presidential debate.
CHARLESTON, South Carolina (CNN) - The CNN/YouTube Democratic presidential debate is only one day away, but the vetting process to determine which questions will be directed to the candidates is ongoing.
CNN's Anderson Cooper is right in the thick of the discussion along with a team of CNN producers and political researchers as he prepares to moderate this historic event.
"This really is a bottom-up process," Cooper said in an interview on CNN's Reliable Sources. "We've spent a week looking at these more than 2,000 videos and the best ones are bubbling up to the surface. That's the way it really is working."
New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson
CHARLESTON, South Carolina (CNN) – Democratic presidential candidate and New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson touted his foreign policy credentials to a house of Democrats in the Charleston suburb of Mount Pleasant today in advance of tomorrow night’s CNN/YouTube debate.
“Let’s make this decision not based on who has the most money, or who has the best political pedigree, or two political pedigrees, or who is the biggest rock star or has the most glamour … although I’m working on it,” said Richardson.
“It should be on vision, it should be on who can bring change, it should be on experience. And how about a president that knows a little bit about foreign policy, who knows a little about energy?,” he said, elaborating on his experience as U.N. Ambassador and Secretary of Energy under Bill Clinton.
Richardson shook hands and spoke with about 75 area Democrats at the home of Robert Burton, a Richardson supporter from the East Cooper area of Mount Pleasant.
The governor, who is in single digits in South Carolina according CNN’s most recent poll, said a strong showing in the state’s primary would help him in a national election.
“South Carolina is a state that is moderate, I’m a moderate,” said Richardson. “I need to do well in South Carolina because South Carolina is a state like New Mexico. We have a lot of challenges in South Carolina and New Mexico. And I need to show some strength in the South so that I can be electable in November as the nominee.”
He added: “It’s the kind of state that can warm up to an underdog like me.”
Richardson acknowledged that making inroads among South Carolina’s large African-American population could be a challenge.
“I’ve been attending services in African-American churches. I’m not going to concede that vote to Senators Clinton and Obama. They’re probably the frontrunners in that vote, but there are a lot of other pockets of strength that I’m trying to attract,” he said, such as rural voters and Hispanic voters.
- CNN South Carolina Producer Peter Hamby
McCain lost a key supporter in South Carolina
CHARLESTON, South Carolina (CNN) - After a two week political freefall, Sen. John McCain received welcome news late this week when a new CNN poll showed he still maintained strong Republican support in South Carolina, a crucial Southern state with an early primary.
The senator from Arizona was standing firm despite an implosion that has temporarily crippled his presidential campaign.
But if the one-time frontrunner hopes to re-energize his presidential bid, he is going to have to convince the likes of Cyndi Mosteller that he is the only candidate who can keep the White House in Republican hands.
Mosteller, a former chairwoman of the Charleston County Republican Party, is a true grassroots activist who is willing to speak her mind and defend her candidate from attacks and criticism by opponents.
She was a vocal advocate for McCain in South Carolina during the 2000 presidential contest when supporters of then-Texas Gov. George Bush effectively derailed his bid to win the South Carolina primary.
This time, with McCain now appearing at his weakest, McCain won't have Mosteller to defend him. She is waiting for former Sen. Fred Thompson of Tennessee to formally enter the race.
"My intentions are at this point, when he becomes a candidate, I am going to support him," Mosteller said in an interview Friday in her office, which is just steps away from a sweeping view of the Ravenel Bridge.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - The U.S. and Iranian ambassadors to Iraq will meet this week to discuss security issues in the war-torn country, a senior Bush administration official said Sunday.
It would be the second meeting between U.S. Ambassador Ryan Crocker and his Iranian counterpart, even though the United States and Iran have had no formal diplomatic relations since 1980.
U.S. officials have accused Iran of interfering in the U.S.-led war in Iraq by supplying Shiite Muslim militias with weaponry and training, fueling the sectarian warfare that U.S. and Iraqi troops are trying to tamp down.
Crocker first met with Ambassador Hassan Kazemi Qomi on May 28.
Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, whose ruling party has close ties to Tehran, said this week's planned meeting would "strengthen the bridges of trust" between the two countries.
But the senior official added, "We've seen no sign of improvement in Iranian behavior. They still arm, aid and train militants."
In preparation for the meeting, Crocker met Sunday in Baghdad with Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari, Zebari's office announced.
"Ambassador Crocker expressed his satisfaction with the efforts made by the minister to hold this meeting," according to a statement from the foreign minister's office.
The meeting comes the Bush administration has come under increasing pressure to show signs of progress in Iraq ahead of a mid-September report by Crocker and Gen. David Petraeus, the U.S. commander in Iraq. The war has become widely unpopular in the United States, and President Bush's fellow Republicans in Congress have had to rely on filibuster tactics to block Democratic-led efforts to start pulling U.S. combat troops out of Iraq.
The senior administration official said both Iran and the Sunni Muslim fighters of al Qaeda in Iraq are considered "accelerants" of the ongoing fighting, which has claimed more than 3,600 American lives since the March 2003 invasion that toppled Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.
The stage is set for the CNN/You Tube debate / Photo: CNN's Mike Roselli
CHARLESTON, South Carolina (CNN)–The candidates are coming to town. Our CNN YouTube Democratic presidential debate’s not until tomorrow night, but the some of the 2008 hopefuls are already in the area.
Senator Joe Biden’s attending Sunday services right now at the Morris Brown AME Church in Charleston. And New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson meets and greets voters at two events today in the Charleston area. Tomorrow night all eight Democratic candidates will be on the campus of the Citadel, site of the debate, which will be moderated by CNN’s Anderson Cooper. And for the first time in presidential debate history, all the questions will come directly from you, submitted via YouTube.
- Deputy Political Director Paul Steinhauser
CHARLESTON, South Carolina (CNN) - South Carolina Republican Party Chairman Katon Dawson is challenging the eight Democratic presidential candidates on the issue of taxes, in back-to-back questions submitted for Monday's presidential debate.
The GOP chairman posted the questions Friday on YouTube, which is co-hosting this debate with CNN and the South Carolina Democratic Party.
"Most of you have voted to repeal the Bush tax cuts, and on the campaign trail you've promised to raise taxes," Dawson said in his first question. "Please put a dollar amount on how much you intend to raise our taxes."
In his second question, the state GOP chairman asked the candidates to state their definition of wealthy and middle class.
"There is a legitimate debate in our country about whether to cut taxes or raise taxes," Dawson said. "Democrats define Republican tax cuts as tax cuts for the wealthy. Republicans say tax cuts are for people who actually pay taxes. At the core of this debate, the disagreement seems to be about how the two parties define wealthy and middle class. I'd like to hear your definition of the terms wealthy and middle class."
Dawson's questions are just two of the more than 2,400 submitted so far by people eager to hear the candidates address their concerns. The debate will be moderated by CNN's Anderson Copper and airs live from 7 p.m.-9 p.m. ET with a replay at 11 p.m. ET/8 p.m. PT.
- CNN Political Editor Mark Preston
Romney addressed Hispanic voters on Sunday
(CNN)–Addressing Hispanic voters on Sunday, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney said the importance of immigration was lost in recent debate. "I know this debate about immigration law has been very much misused and mischaracterized by a lot of people. I think it's very important that we as a party communicate how much we value immigration," the GOP presidential hopeful said.
Calling Hispanics "quintessentially American", Romney said it was important to remember their contribution to American society when discussing immigration reform. "That we value the willingness of people and the desire of people to come here," he said, "particularly those of Hispanic origin have very much the values that have formed the fundamental culture of America."
Romney spoke at the Republican National Hispanic Assembly's annual convention in Washington, D.C. Later in the day he was planning to campaign in New Hampshire
- CNN Political Desk Editor Jamie Crawford