(CNN) - At a campaign stop in Bettendorf, Iowa Wednesday, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney was asked whether any of his sons were enlisted in the military and what they were doing to “support the war on terror.”
“The good news is, we have a volunteer army, and we’re going to keep it that way,” the former Massachusetts governor responded. “My sons are all adults…. They’ve made their decisions about their careers and chosen not to serve in the military and I respect that decision.”
The question came from a reputed war protestor while Romney was discussing Iraq. The presidential hopeful continued his answer by calling for a “surge of support” for those enlisted and their families.
According to The Associated Press, the woman is a member of Quad City Progressive Action for the Common Good and is the sister of an Army major who has served in Iraq.
Romney’s five sons, ranging in age from 26 to 37, have been active campaigners on behalf of their father. They maintain the “Five Brothers” blog on Romney’s official Web site, chronicling their crisscrossing campaign events.
- CNN Political Desk Editor Mark Norman
PORTSMOUTH, New Hampshire (CNN) - House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-California, told CNN in an interview Thursday that the surge in Iraq "has not accomplished its goal," and the first item on her agenda after the recess will be the war in Iraq.
When the House reconvenes in September, Pelosi says Iraq will be "front and center."
She also told CNN that there will be a new "political standard" set for the war, the surge, and the Iraqi government.
Speaker Pelosi also offered a prediction for the 2008 congressional elections, proclaiming, "I have absolutely no doubt that we will keep the majority in the House and grow it."
- CNN Political Researcher Xuan Thai
Giuliani greets a future voter on the campaign trail in Iowa.
(CNN) — Campaigning in Iowa just days before the state’s Republican straw poll in Ames, Rudy Giuliani says his decision to skip the event was not meant as a dismissal of the poll’s significance.
“It was a strategic decision. We got started late. We had to focus on [whether] we [can] divide our resources in half, straw poll and caucuses,” the former New York mayor said while campaigning Wednesday in Council Bluffs. “We decided [to] put all our emphasis on the caucuses because we can reach the widest number of voters that way, and we’ll get the maximum effect out of the money and the time that we have. I think it’s going to be a good decision,” Giuliani said.
Giuliani and Arizona Senator John McCain both announced in June that they would not participate in Saturday’s non-binding straw poll. Former Senator Fred Thompson, who is expected to formally enter the presidential race next month, will also not participate.
Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee, Sen. Sam Brownback, former Wisconsin governor Tommy Thompson, Rep. Tom Tancredo, Rep. Duncan Hunter and Rep. Ron Paul all plan to participate.
Wrapping up four days of campaigning in the Hawkeye state, Giuliani said he now plans to spend more time campaigning there than he has to date. He also said he felt good about his prospects for the caucuses. “I think our ideas connect with the Republican voters in Iowa better than anyone else.”
Giuliani said he would return to Iowa on August 15.
- CNN Political Desk Editor Jamie Crawford
Obama launched a new ad Wednesday.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Illinois Sen. Barack Obama released a new ad in Iowa on Wednesday, asking a set of hypothetical questions that his campaign said "highlights his ability to inspire hope and to unite America."
In the ad, an announcer asks, "What if there was hope instead of fear? Unity instead of division? What if we had a President who believes that we are one nation?" It then lists some of his accomplishments, talking about his work as a community organizer, state legislator and senator. "We are one people, all of us pledging allegiance to the stars and stripes, all of us defending the United States of America," Obama says at the end of the ad.
“All over the state, Iowans are responding to Senator Obama’s vision for bringing Americans to build a movement to change Washington,” Iowa Communications Director Josh Earnest said. “By learning how Obama has successfully dedicated his life to these values, Iowa voters will better understand that Obama’s vision for bringing the country together to solve important problems is not just campaign rhetoric, but the cause of his life.”
Obama's campaign released the commercial in conjunction with "Grilling with Barack," an online contest where Iowans submit questions for him and the ten winners earn a dinner with the candidate.
The ad will run on cable and broadcast stations in Iowa.
- CNN Associate Producer Lauren Kornreich
Bush is slated to meet with Sarkozy this weekend.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - President Bush will meet with newly elected French President Nicolas Sarkozy while the French leader is on vacation in the United States, the White House announced Wednesday.
The meeting will take place Saturday at the Kennebunkport, Maine, home of the U.S. leader's father, White House spokesman Tony Snow said. Sarkozy and his wife, Cecilia, are currently vacationing in nearby New Hampshire.
"I'm sure they'll talk about some international matters, but this is not a summit," Snow said. "This is not something with an agenda. The agenda is: Come by, and let's visit."
He said the United States is "on the verge of a new era of relations with the French, which is a good thing. And the president believes in building personal relationships with other heads of state."
Ties between Washington and Paris were strained by the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003, which Sarkozy's predecessor, Jacques Chirac, opposed. Upon winning office, Sarkozy pledged that the United States "can rely on our friendship."
The Bush family compound in Kennebunkport, known as Walker's Point, was used for a similar meeting between Bush and Russian President Vladimir Putin in early July. Snow said the home was chosen again as a matter of convenience, since the Sarkozys are nearby.
He said the invitation was extended by first lady Laura Bush to Cecilia Sarkozy during the Group of Eight economic summit in Germany. At that time, President Sarkozy did tell reporters he planned to come to America this summer, but was not specific about any potential meetings with the Bush family.
- CNN White House Correspondent Ed Henry
ROCHESTER, New Hampshire (CNN) - In direct response to the bridge collapse in Minnesota, Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-New York, called for a series of initiatives Wednesday to improve America's bridges, highways, tunnels, and other infrastructures.
Clinton said America is facing an "infrastructure crisis" saying, "something is very, very wrong when, at the dawn of the 21st century, in the richest country on earth, people are actually nervous about driving over bridges for fear that they'll collapse."
Sen. Clinton announced the plan during a speech in Rochester, New Hampshire one week after the Minnesota bridge collapse that killed five people with eight still missing.
The initiative includes a $10 billion fund for infrastructure repairs over the course of 10 years, a $250 million grants program to allow states to inspect bridges like the bridge in Minnesota, and a $1.5 billion increase in federal funding for public transit.
- CNN Political Researcher Xuan Thai
Bonds broke the home run record Tuesday night.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - After a couple of tries, President Bush and Barry Bonds finally connected.
White House spokesman Tony Snow told CNN the president reached Bonds by telephone about 1pm ET on Wednesday for a three-minute conversation congratulating the controversial slugger for hitting his 756th home run, smashing the Major League Baseball record previously held by Hank Aaron.
“You’ve always been a great hitter,” the president told Bonds, according to Snow. “And you broke a great record.”
The president had been struggling to reach Bonds on the West Coast since early Wednesday morning. “The president was asleep when Barry Bonds hit his home run,” Snow explained. “Barry Bonds was asleep when the president came to work today.”
During the brief conversation, the president noted he enjoyed learning that the ballplayer lifted his son, Nikolai, in the air after reaching home plate. Snow said Mr. Bush joked he and the young bat boy for the San Francisco Giants both know “what it’s like to have a famous father.”
Asked if the touchy subject of steroids came up during the conversation since Bonds has been under a cloud of suspicion for alleged use of the performance-enhancing drug, Snow said no. In his 2005 State of the Union address, the president, a former owner of the Texas Rangers, publicly called for baseball to clean up its act on the matter without singling out any particular players.
- CNN White House Correspondent Ed Henry
WASHINGTON (CNN) - The South Carolina Republican Party will announce Thursday that it is moving its primary to Jan. 19, in an effort to preserve its status as the first Southern state to cast a vote in the 2008 GOP presidential nominating contest, well placed South Carolina Republicans tell CNN.
GOP Chairman Katon Dawson will reveal the new primary date at a late morning news conference in Concord, New Hampshire, which is nearly 1,000 miles north of his own state capital.
The location was purposely chosen to show that these two states are united in their unique roles in helping to choose the next president of the United States. Several New Hampshire political types are expected to attend the news briefing.
- CNN Political Editor Mark Preston
Obama Girl is questioned in a new 'ad' from the Romney Girls.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - In the dirty world of politics, even the Obama girl is subject to nasty attack ads.
Just when it seemed the folks at barelypolitical.com were content with their summer mega-hit online videos "Obama Girl" and "Obama Girl v. Giuliani Girl," the satirical Web site is out with an "attack ad" on Obama's No. 1 fan– this one said to be sponsored by three scantily clad blondes called the "Romney Girls."
The ad asks, "How much can we really trust Obama girl?" as it scrolls through several TV interviews and media reports of the Obama Girl actress, Amber Lee Ettinger, giving varying answers as to how much she supports the Illinois Democrat in real life.
"Why can't Obama Girl just pick a position?" the ad's narrator asks.
The ad ends with a quick a cameo from the three individuals identifying themselves as "The Romney Girls," as the words, "Paid for by the election committee of RomneyGirls For America" scrolls across the screen.
On the barelypolitical.com Web site, The Romney Girls are identified as "identical triplets, but they are as different as Romney's various viewpoints."
"Frightening Romney Girl likes Romney based on what he stood for in the 1980s. But Athletic-y Romney Girl likes him for completely different reasons – what he stood for in the 1990s. And Infant Romney Girl likes him for what people tell him he should stand for today."
The Web site's previous two online videos, "Obama Girl" and "Obama Girl vs. Giuliani Girl," became instant online hits, and are often cited as examples of how Internet videos are shaping the 2008 election.
Kevin Madden, a Romney spokesman, told CNN the campaign was unaware of the new video but, referencing the candidate's five sons, added, "I’d say that it looks like the five brothers have some serious competition. They better start working on their dance moves."
"Obama Girl" generated over three million views on YouTube, while "Giuliani Girl" clocked in at over one million.
Thompson tapped a new campaign manager Wednesday.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Likely White House hopeful Fred Thompson is turning to the man who helped him win his Tennessee Senate seat 13 years ago to lead the "Law & Order" star's 2008 presidential campaign-in-waiting.
Bill Lacy, who served as Thompson's strategist and management consultant during his successful 1994 Senate bid, was officially named manager of Thompson's "testing the waters" committee Tuesday.
“It is an honor to be working with Fred again,” Lacy said in a statement. “My immediate goal to provide stable, hands-on leadership and to retool the Thompson operation to implement a non-traditional, message-driven effort.”
Lacy, the current director of the Robert J. Dole Institute of Politics at the University of Kansas, is also a former strategist for President Ronald Reagan, former Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole, R-Kansas, as well as the Republican National Committee.
Lacy's appointment follows the departure last month of campaign manager Tom Collamore, another former Reagan aide and one-time lobbyist for the tobacco industry.
Several GOP sources familiar with Collamore's decision acknowledged differences between Collamore and Thompson’s wife, Jeri, on structure and staffing.
The Tennessee Republican is formally expected to jump into the presidential race around Labor Day.
- CNN Ticker Producer Alexander Mooney