Hillary Clinton will donate contributions from Norman Hsu
NEW YORK (CNN) - The campaigns for a number of Democrats, including Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama, said Thursday they have returned or given to charity donations from fund-raiser Norman Hsu, who has an open bench warrant for his arrest in California.
"Obviously, we were all surprised by this news," the junior senator from New York said during a news conference with Gov. Eliot Spitzer, whose campaign confirmed that he too returned donations from Hsu.
Clinton said the news was unexpected. "I think it's fair to say we were all very surprised by this," she said about the $23,000 her campaign received.
Hsu came under scrutiny after news reports questioned his fund-raising and revealed he has a criminal record.
Mitt Romney in 2004 at a press conference regarding same-sex marriage in Massachusetts
DES MOINES, Iowa (CNN) - Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, who faced the issue as governor of Massachusetts, criticized an Iowa district court ruling Thursday that said same-sex couples have the right to marry.
A judge in Polk County, Iowa, said gay couples must be allowed to get married because of the state constitution's guarantee of equal treatment. The judge also struck a state law that banned same-sex marriages and said valid marriage is only between a male and a female. The ruling came in response to a lawsuit by six gay couples seeking permission to marry, and will now go to the Iowa Supreme Court.
Romney, leading in the Iowa polls after courting conservative support, was the first candidate to react to the decision. In a statement, he said, "The ruling is Iowa today is another example of an activist court and unelected judges trying to define marriage and disregard the will of the people as expressed through Iowa's Defense of Marriage Act. This once again highlights the need for a Federal Marriage Amendment to protect the traditional definition of marriage as between one man and one woman."
Romney, who was governor when the Massachusetts Supreme Court ruled in favor of same-sex marriages in 2004, did approve certificates allowing gay couples to marry. But he worked with other opponents in an effort to overturn the state law, and has pushed for a national ban.
–CNN Political Desk Managing Editor Steve Brusk
WASHINGTON (CNN) – Former U.S. Sen. Fred Thompson will officially announce his candidacy for president on the Web next Thursday, September 6, sources working on the actor's formal entry into the race told CNN Thursday.
The announcement video will be posted at 12:01 a.m. ET Thursday at www.imwithfred.com.
The sources said Thompson would travel and campaign in key primary states following the Internet announcement.
The Web announcement will not take place before Wednesday's GOP debate in New Hampshire, the sources said, adding they did not expect Thompson to attend.
Early this week, the New Hampshire Union-Leader called on Thompson to attend the debate.
"If Thompson announces before the debate, New Hampshire voters will expect him to be at the University of New Hampshire with the other announced candidates," the newspaper said. "A no-show will be counted here as a snub.
"If Thompson waits until after the debate to make his announcement, it will appear to some as if he timed the announcement just to avoid the New Hampshire debate. That would give his foes the chance to say he is either not serious about running for the nomination or is too unprepared to be considered a credible candidate."
Thompson created a fundraising committee that allowed him to begin raising money for a possible presidential campaign on June 1.
An actor best known for his role as District Attorney Arthur Branch in NBC's "Law & Order," Thompson was elected to the Senate in 1994 and served there for eight years.
– CNN's John King and Candy Crowley
Will an endorsement from a firefighters union help Chris Dodd like it helped John Kerry?
IOWA CITY, Iowa (CNN) - Democratic presidential candidate Chris Dodd called Thursday one of the best days he's had on the trail so far. Of course, for a man who's polling as low as he is, "best" is relative.
The senator from Connecticut stood on stage for what could eventually prove to be a helpful photo op. Holding his hand under the lights was the man often credited with lifting John Kerry's 2004 presidential bid to a new level. That man is Harold Schaitberger.
Schaitberger is the president of the International Association of Fire Fighters, a union representing 281,000 full-time professional fire fighters.
Wednesday he announced the IAFF is throwing all of its support behind long-shot candidate Chris Dodd.
"I have committed myself to this campaign...until we get to the White House," Schaitberger said.
"One of the things I admire about fire fighters," Dodd said, "[is] they don't sit around and just say 'who's winning?' They ask themselves 'who should win?'"
And according to today's polls, Dodd certainly isn't winning. But even though he argued that "poll numbers in August mean nothing," you can't ignore the fact that he's consistently coming in at around 1 percent.
Now the question is, could this endorsement change anything?
Let's rewind four years. Sen. John Kerry, then seen as a long-shot for the Democratic presidential nominee, was given this very same endorsement.
BOISE, Idaho (CNN) – Idaho’s Republican Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter on Thursday said to CNN Congressional Correspondent Dana Bash that Sen. Craig was in a "tough spot" and indicated that the senator’s loss of key Senate committee assignments could be “problematic” for Idaho residents.
"Obviously, some of his colleagues in the Senate are calling for his resignation but, once again, Larry's going to have to work that out himself," said Otter. "Nobody likes these kind of problems, these kind of problems you just can't…. get rid of with a simple explanation. It takes a long time, and then you never really unring the bell. So, as we go forward, I suspect there's going to have to be additional consideration by Larry and his family on where exactly to go."
Are you essentially saying it’s time for Sen. Craig to resign? Bash followed-up.
“What I said was it's a tough spot for Larry, and it's a tough spot for his family, and as this thing drags on, and we already know that there's going to be congressional hearings on it, ethics committee - as is appropriate and proper - that it takes a long, long time for these things to work themselves out,” he said.
When Bash asked the governor if the senator's political career would be able to withstand the storm, the governor simply replied, "I'm not going to go there."
– CNN's Dana Bash and Sareena Dalla
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards will be endorsed by a major carpenters' union at a rally next week, the Edwards campaign announced Thursday.
The United Brotherhood of Carpenters, a union representing more than 500,000 carpenters and tradespeople, did not endorse anyone during the last presidential election. The union's executive board chose to support Edwards after meeting with him in Las Vegas last week.
"Our endorsement is based on the Senator's outspoken support for all of organized labor and his focus on America's working families," Carpenters' President Douglas J. McCarron said. "In addition to his support for labor, our leadership was particularly impressed with the Senator's strong stand on trade."
Edwards has been focusing on what he calls building "One America," which would strengthen the middle class by increasing wages, establishing universal health care and protecting unions.
"I am honored to receive the support of the Carpenters Union," said Edwards. "For more than a century, they have been fighting for working Americans and standing up for the values that have made our country great – hard work, responsibility, and fairness. America was built by men and women who worked with their hands, and it's labor that made our country great."
The union will formally endorse Edwards at a rally in New Hampshire on September 8.
–CNN Associate Producer Lauren Kornreich
Sen. Warner will announce if he's running for a sixth term on Friday
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Virginia Sen. John Warner, the influential former chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, will announce his decision on whether or not he will seek re-election at the University of Virginia on Friday.
The five-term senator, considered an authority in the Senate on military and national security issues, broke away last week from President Bush's Iraq war policy and started to demand that troops start to come home by September.
Warner, 80, has been mulling retirement for some time. He talked about his decision-making on NBC's "Meet the Press" on Sunday.
"I'm confident that I can run a good, strong campaign," Warner said. "But then I've got to also say to Virginia, ‘On the eve of my 88th birthday, I'm still going seven days, seven nights with full steam.’ I might be able to do it."
–CNN Associate Producer Lauren Kornreich
WASHINGTON (CNN) – White House hopeful Mitt Romney told CNN Thursday Idaho Sen. Larry Craig's alleged behavior was "disgraceful," but the Massachusetts Republican stopped short of calling for his one-time Senate supporter to resign.
"I think at this stage, the right course is for him to make this decision looking at his own conscience, talking to the people of Idaho, talking to his colleagues in the Senate," Romney told CNN's John King in South Carolina. "I'm not one of those. I'm going to let him make that decision."
Craig stepped down his post as one of Romney's Senate liaisons Monday night - shortly after news surfaced he was arrested in an airport bathroom and pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct.
Romney's GOP presidential rival, John McCain, told CNN Wednesday he thinks Craig should step down. Rep. Peter Hoekstra, R-Michigan, and Sen. Norm Coleman, R-Minnesota, have also called on Craig to resign.
Related Video: Romney asks supporters to create his next campaign ad
Elizabeth Edwards told TIME 'hatred' of Clinton will energize the GOP.
WASHINGTON (CNN) – Elizabeth Edwards, the outspoken wife of Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards, says her husband is more electable than rival Hillary Clinton because "hatred" of the New York Democrat will energize Republicans.
“I don't know where it comes from. I don't begin to understand it. But you can't pretend it doesn't exist, and it will energize the Republican base," Mrs. Edwards said in an interview with Time Magazine.
"Their nominee won't energize them, Bush won't, but Hillary as the nominee will. It's hard for John to talk about, but it's the reality," she added.
Mrs. Edwards has increasingly assumed a visible role in her husband's campaign and has made several sharp statements, including a strong critique of New York Sen. Hillary Clinton's record on women's issues, a biting characterization of Illinois Sen. Barack Obama as "holier than thou," and a confrontation with conservative commentator Ann Coulter on MSNBC.
She also came under fire last month for telling an interviewer, "we can't make John black, we can't make him a woman" and argued her husband receives less media attention because he lacks the interesting stories of his chief rivals.
Addressing those controversial comments, Edwards told Time, "The media goes to this very engaging story about a legitimate woman candidate and a legitimate candidate with an African-American heritage, and that drives up their fund-raising numbers. Then the media folks say, 'See, that proves we were right to focus on these two candidates.'"
“It's enough to make you tear your hair out," she added.
The Clinton campaign has yet to respond to CNN's request for comment on Mrs. Edwards' remarks.
TIME.com: John Edwards Bets the Farm
– CNN Ticker Producer Alexander Mooney
(CNN) – Michigan’s House of Representatives approved legislation Thursday that sets the state’s presidential primary on January 15. The Michigan Senate approved similar legislation last week. Gov. Jennifer Granholm, a Democrat, is expected to sign the bill, according to the Detroit Free Press.
The wide-open nature of the 2008 presidential race has set off a scramble between many states to exert influence early on the primary calendar and undermine the traditional role played by Iowa and New Hampshire.
Florida, a battleground state in recent presidential contests, has moved its primary up to January 29 in violation of Democratic National Committee rules that prohibit any states other than Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, and South Carolina from holding contests before February 5. The DNC Rules and Bylaws Committee recently decided to strip Florida Democrats of all of their delegates to the national convention unless they hold a caucus or party-run primary after February 5. Michigan Democrats may face a similar penalty from the DNC.
–CNN Associate Producer Martina Stewart