Sen. Barack Obama accused others of being tight with lobbyists on Tuesday in Waukee.
WAUKEE, Iowa (CNN) - At a stop near Des Moines Tuesday, Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. Barack Obama took a shot at his rivals again, saying, "There are a lot of people in this race for the presidency who've been in Washington longer than me... They've got more lobbyist pals, they go to the right dinner parties, and they know how to talk the Washington talk."
The language could be seen primarily as another attack on Democratic rival Sen. Hillary Clinton. Obama has vowed not to take federal lobbyist money - as has fellow Democratic candidate Sen. John Edwards– and it's become a staple in the candidate's speeches. Clinton refuses to make such a commitment, saying some lobbyists "represent real Americans."
Obama called for more transparency in the exchange of federal lobbyist cash.
"For the first time in history Washington lobbyists will have to disclose who they're raising money from and who in Congress they're funneling it to so that you have a chance to know what's going on in Washington."
Obama also said that experience is not everything, adding to the "change" versus "experience" debate that he and Clinton have been in.
"I don't know if you remember," he added, "but there were a couple of guys named Cheney and Rumsfeld who had two of the longest resumes in Washington, and they led us into the worst foreign policy disaster in a generation."
- CNN Iowa Producer Chris Welch
WASHINGTON (CNN) – Democratic presidential hopeful Mike Gravel’s trip down memory lane Tuesday included some familiar stops. The former Alaska senator appeared on CNN’s The Situation Room to discuss his candidacy and to criticize the current war – the same topics Gravel addressed 36 years ago in a television interview with host Stan Bohrman.
The 1971 interview with Gravel appeared on Bohrman’s program, “Tempo,” a daytime talk show broadcasted on the now defunct KHJ-TV Los Angeles. In the interview, Bohrman explores the then-Senator’s charge to end the military draft and the Vietnam War itself.
Gravel’s unwavering commitment to end the war prompted Bohrman to ask: “Are you ever going to run for the presidency?” Click the play button to watch Gravel’s response.
The current White House hopeful has been outspoken critic of the War in Iraq and highly critical of the Bush Administration. After delightfully watching his 1971 interview Tuesday, he was asked by CNN’s Wolf Blitzer which was a bigger blunder in his opinion: Vietnam or Iraq?
“I think the War in Iraq,” Gravel told Blitzer. “The consequences of Iraq are a lot more serious. Vietnam was a backwater. It killed a lot more people… 3 million Southeast Asians, 58,000 Americans. But the Iraq War is considerably more significant. We’ve destabilized a major portion – the numbers of Iraqis, I’m sure it’s over a million now. Before it’s all said and done, who know where it all goes.”
Two more trivia facts: From 1967 to 1973, Bohrman’s co-hosts of the “Tempo” program included Regis Philbin and Maria Cole, Nat "King" Cole’s widow. For more vintage clips of Stan Bohrman, click here. And, yes, if you’re wondering, Stan Bohrman is in fact CNN Washington Bureau Chief David Bohrman’s father.
- CNN Senior Producer Alex Wellen
PORTSMOUTH, New Hampshire (CNN) – Sen. John McCain’s visit to Concord High School proved to be more than your average guest speaker appearance Tuesday with the Republican presidential candidate giving and getting a dose of the campaign’s trademark “straight talk.”
During the question and answer session one student rose and asked a pointed question about McCain’s age: “If elected, you’d be older than Ronald Reagan, making you the oldest president. Do you ever worry that like you might die in office or get Alzheimer’s or some other disease that might affect your judgment?”
The Arizona senator chuckled slightly as the “oh my gods” filled the room. In a self-deprecating reference to his memory, McCain said his children have joked about their father “hiding his own Easter eggs,” but quickly added, that he was a “24-7” worker and would out campaign any of his rivals.
McCain then ended the exchange in his quintessential style: “Thanks for the question, you little jerk … you’re drafted.”
- CNN Senior Political Producer Sasha Johnson
Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani was surrounded by firefighters' gear as his discussed his proposals for better national emergency preparedness on Tuesday.
(CNN) - At a campaign stop Tuesday in Pearl, Mississippi, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani promoted his plan to help every community in the nation prepare for terrorist attacks and natural disasters like Hurricane Katrina, which devastated the Gulf Coast region in 2005.
Giuliani toured the state’s emergency management agency with GOP Gov. Haley Barbour to highlight his plan on disaster response and preparedness, which he says should be decentralized. The presidential hopeful’s proposals include increasing local and state training and creating regional emergency response teams like FEMA's Urban Search and Rescue Teams and giving FEMA new technology to track relief supplies and other aid. He also called for ending appropriation of federal money for congressional pet projects. Instead, Giuliani would use the money to pay for long-term infrastructure needs like improving the nation’s aging bridges.
The proposals taken together comprise the latest of Giuliani’s “Twelve Commitments” which he has been rolling out separately during his campaign.
“Today, every American needs to have a first responder mindset,” Giuliani said in a statement released Tuesday.
Giuliani announced his preparedness commitment on the same day that he named the individuals who would advise him on homeland security during the remainder of his 2008 presidential bid. The advisors include former FBI director Louis Freeh and Rep. Peter King, R-New York, along with former officials of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and of the New York City government.
Giuliani may be best known nationally for leading New York City after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in lower Manhattan, and has made his experiences dealing with terrorism a hallmark of his campaign.
–CNN Associate Producer Martina Stewart
New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson shakes hands out on the campaign trail.
OSCEOLA, Iowa (CNN) - Democratic presidential candidate Bill Richardson said Tuesday that he has no problem taking money from federal lobbyists.
"What am I supposed to [do]?" the New Mexico governor asked. "I have enough trouble raising money to run a campaign."
Two other Democratic candidates, former Sen. John Edwards and Sen. Barack Obama, have turned the issue of not accepting campaign contributions from Washington lobbyists into a major staple of their campaigns. But not Richardson.
"The unions have lobbyists in Washington," Richardson said. "I take money from them. Nurses, environmentalists, senior citizens."
While acknowledging that he supports certain restrictions be place on lobbyist contributions, he added, "But to say, you know, ban all lobbyists?... I just want to be realistic. You know there are a lot of slogans out there, and I think we want honesty."
Last month, Sen. Hillary Clinton defended her practice of accepting lobbyist contributions. At a forum in early August she said lobbyists "represent real Americans." At that same forum, Richardson said it was "silly" to refuse lobbyist money. He told the crowd the candidates are "sucking up to you... [with] slogans that get you cheering."
- CNN Iowa Producer Chris Welch
WASHINGTON (CNN) – As the deadline approached Tuesday for state Republican parties to submit delegate selection plans to the Republican National Committee, a GOP official warned that any state disregarding party rules would face severe penalties.
If a state party does not hold its primary or caucus contest between Feb. 5 and July 28, then half of that state’s delegates will not be invited to the presidential nominating convention scheduled for Sept. 2008 in Minneapolis, said the official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. If a state party announces its primary or caucus date after the RNC issues its “Call to the Convention” - invitations to Minneapolis - then the penalty increases to 90 percent of its delegates. The call can be made at anytime before Dec. 31.
The GOP official noted the rules and penalties governing the nominating calendar were approved at the 2004 convention. So far several states are disregarding them. Florida, Michigan, Nevada and South Carolina have all announced primary and caucus dates in January in an effort to gain significant influence on the nominating process that historically belonged solely to Iowa and New Hampshire.
The Republican official did acknowledge that the eventual Republican nominee for president could intervene to help restore the stripped delegates to these renegade states. But the official added that because of the complexity in doing so, it is more likely the nominee would probably seek other accommodations to allow the disqualified delegates to attend the convention in an unofficial capacity.
- CNN Political Editor Mark Preston
Fred Thompson's formal entry into the 2008 presidential race as been anxiously anticipated by his supporters, aptly dubbed "Fred heads."
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Facing criticism for skipping Wednesday night's Republican presidential debate, Fred Thompson will reach out to potential voters during commercial breaks with his first campaign ad, his campaign announced Tuesday.
The first ad, called "Debate," is scheduled to air nationally on Fox News during the debate. The campaign will release a second ad that will air on Fox News on Thursday.
Thompson, a former U.S. Senator from Tennessee, will officially announce that he's running for president at 12:01am Thursday.
- CNN Associate Producer Lauren Kornreich
Bill Clinton looked on as Oprah Winfrey prepared to give a speech in 2006. The former President appeared on Winfrey's talk show Tuesday.
(CNN) – Former president Bill Clinton appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show Tuesday to promote his new book, “Giving: How Each of Us Can Change the World.”
When Winfrey introduced Clinton, she admitted she didn’t quite know how to address the former president.
“When you call, I don’t know what to say. Your Highness, sir, thank you, Mr. Former President. Mr. President. Mr. Clinton,” she said. “Could you tell I was all verklempt about it?”
Winfrey then asked Clinton what he wants to be called if his wife, Sen. Hillary Clinton, becomes president.
Clinton replied, “My Scottish friends say I should be called ‘First Laddie’ because it’s the closest thing to ‘First Lady.’”
The former president also told Winfrey that he does play a role in his wife’s presidential campaign, but “not in an organized way.”
“If she’s writing an important article or giving an important speech, she’ll ask me to read it. Particularly if it’s something I know a lot about,” he added.
- CNN Political Ticker Producer Xuan Thai
Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm says her state's new primary date is 'final.'
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm has signed legislation moving her state’s 2008 presidential primary to January 15, temporarily placing it ahead of New Hampshire in the heavily front-loaded nominating calendar. The law went into effect Tuesday morning.
“While political maneuvering will no doubt continue, our move to January 15th is final,” Granholm, a Democrat, said in a statement.
The move to mid-January violates both national Democratic and Republican party rules. In August, a Democratic National Committee panel voted almost unanimously to strip the state of Florida of its say in the nomination process unless it delays its primary, currently scheduled for January 29. The DNC is likely to impose similar penalties on Michigan.
New Hampshire, which has written its first-in-the-nation primary status into state law, was tentatively scheduled for January 22, but now is expected to move earlier. Iowa, with its first-in-the-nation caucuses tentatively slated for January 14, is expected to make a similar move.
Sen. Barack Obama campaigned in New Hampshire after Labor Day.
(CNN) - Continuing his Labor Day campaign theme of change, Sen. Barack Obama spoke to a small gathering of people in Manchester, New Hampshire Tuesday morning to unveil his plan for transparency in government. Obama told those assembled for the roundtable, “We need a system that works for the American people's interest and not for the special interest.”
One of the main points of his plan focused on creating a centralized database that would give Americans access to lobbying information such as who is lobbying members of Congress, which lobbyist have ethics violations and where lobbyist money is going.
Obama added, “I really believe that when it comes to what's wrong with this country, the American people aren't the problem. The American people are the answer. They want to trust in our government again. We just need a government that will trust in us.”
Obama also addressed recent comments made by Sen. Hillary Clinton suggesting that he lacked the experience to be president.
“I know that some people like to count experience as the amount of time that you've spent in Washington, and I acknowledge that I might not always have the kind of experience that Washington likes, but I believe that I have the experience that Washington and America needs.”
–CNN Political Assignment Editor Alta Spells