(CNN) - Rudy Giuliani received a boost Wednesday when Robert Duvall declared he would back the former New York City mayor's presidential bid. Duvall's endorsement came hours before another famous actor, Fred Thompson, announced he was seeking the White House.
"Rudy has consistently proven he's ready to confront tough challenges," Duvall said in a statement released by Giuliani's presidential campaign. "I don't normally get involved in politics, but I think the stakes are too high this election. Mayor Giuliani has the executive experience, proven record and bold vision needed to lead our country. Luciana and I are proud to support him."
Duvall has appeared in such blockbuster hits as "The Godfather," "The Godfather: Part II" and "Apocalypse Now." He won an Academy Award for his role in Tender Mercies.
Giuliani's campaign also noted that Duvall would be holding a fundraiser for the GOP presidential hopeful in the near future.
Thompson, meanwhile, joined eight other Republicans in declaring that he would seek the Republican presidential nomination after testing the waters for several months. The former Tennessee senator and actor skipped a GOP presidential debate in New Hampshire to make the announcement on "The Tonight Show." He is scheduled to provide a longer explanation as to why he is jumping in the race in a video to be posted on his website at midnight.
– CNN Political Editor Mark Preston
DURHAM, New Hampshire – Robert Haines, an obscure candidate running for president, was removed twice by police officers from the press room at Wednesday night's GOP debate on the campus of the University of New Hampshire.
Haines was dressed in a cowboy suit and was lingering around the building. On his way out the door he waved.
Brian Lawson, who runs a New Hampshire primary blog, says Haines is a normal fixture on the New Hampshire political circuit.
"He regularly stands across the street from the Manchester City Hall, holding a sign 'Robert Haines for President,' and he normally gets removed from events," Lawson said.
– CNN New Hampshire Producer Sareena Dalla
Rep. Duncan Hunter discussed the war on terror at Wednesday's debate.
(CNN) - Congressman Duncan Hunter said during Wednesday night's GOP debate that, if elected president, he would hold terror suspects indefinitely at Guantanamo Bay if he felt they were too dangerous to be set free and the U.S. could not convict them.
"And let me tell you," said the California Republican, that "the proof of that is the fact that we have conducted these combatant review tribunals. And we've actually sent back to the battlefield or sent back to Afghanistan some of the people that we thought were no longer a threat."
"Some of those people have shown up on the battlefield bearing arms against our soldiers and sailors and airmen and Marines, back on the battlefield after we sent them back," declared Hunter. "If anything, we've been too liberal with the release of terrorists."
Hunter went on to say that the conditions at Guantanamo Bay were, in his view, anything but substandard. "The last time I looked at the menu, they had honey-glazed chicken and rice pilaf on Friday. That's how we treat the terrorists," he said.
"They've got health care that's better than most HMOs. And they got something else that no Democrat politician in America has. They live in a place called Guantanamo, where not one person has ever been murdered," proclaimed the presidential hopeful. "And there's not one politician, one Democrat politician in America, that can say that about one of the prisons in his home district. We've got to keep Guantanamo open."
–CNN Political Desk Editor Jamie Crawford
Mitt Romney at Wednesday's debate.
(CNN) - Comments made by former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney on the campaign trail in August regarding his sons' lack of military service continue to dog him.
During Wednesday night's GOP presidential debate, Mark Riss, a Stratford County, New Hampshire deputy sheriff with a son nearing the end of his second tour in Iraq, took his opportunity to ask a question to convey his disappointment regarding Romney's admitted gaffe: saying his five sons were "serving their country" by campaigning for him.
"I don't think you fully understand how offended my wife and I were, as well as others with daughters, husbands and wives serving in the war on terror, to compare your sons' attempts to get you elected to my son's service in Iraq," said Riss.
"There is not a comparison, of course," responded Romney. "There's no question. The honor we have for men and women that serve in the armed forces is a place of honor we will never forget, and nothing compares to it. People willing to put their lives on the line for American freedom are in a league all their own, and we owe them all our respect."
Riss's comments came at the end of a question he posed to the candidate, asking Romney for clarification on his Iraq exit strategy.
–CNN Political Desk Editor Mark Norman
(CNN) - Arizona Sen. John McCain, a former prisoner of war in North Vietnam, warned his Republican rivals during Wednesday night's GOP debate about the consequences of using torture on enemy combatants.
"The risk is that when an American is in the hands of an enemy, that they will use the fact that we tortured people as an excuse to torture our brave men and women in the military," said the presidential hopeful. "I'm not prepared to expose them to that."
After his plane was shot down in Vietnam in 1967, McCain was held as a prisoner of war at the infamous "Hanoi Hilton" for five and a half years.
–CNN Associate Producer Lauren Kornreich
Fred Thompson's rivals did not pull any punches when asked about Thompson's absence during the debate Wednesday.
(CNN) - Fred Thompson's Republican rivals made excuses for the presidential candidate's notable absence from Wednesday night's debate in New Hampshire.
"I think that's a decision that Fred should make and maybe we're up past his bed time," said Arizona Sen. John McCain.
"I was scheduled to be on Jay Leno tonight, but I gave up my spot to somebody else because I'd rather be in New Hampshire with these fine people," said former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee.
But Mitt Romney poked fun at Thompson's delayed entry into the presidential race.
"[The] only question I have: Why the hurry, why not take some more time off?" said Romney. "Maybe January or Febuary might be a better time to make a decision about getting into this race."
(CNN) - Kansas Sen. Sam Brownback disagreed with a local New Hampshire resident Wednesday night on the topic of same-sex marriage.
During Wednesday night's debate, Fox's Carl Cameron, on location at a local diner, asked a New Hampshire state employee whether she thought a federal constitutional amendment banning gay marriage should be passed. "Absolutely not," said Heidi Turcotte. "We're the state of 'live free or die', and people should be able to marry the person they love."
Cameron then tossed the same question to Brownback for his response.
"I understand this is a divided audience on this," replied Brownback. "And I understand we as a country are struggling with this question. But these issues aren't done in a vacuum." The presidential hopeful went on to say, "When you do these vast, social experiments - and that's what this is, when you redefine marriage, it's a vast, social experiment - they're not done in isolation. They impact the rest of the culture around you. When you take the sacredness out of marriage, you will drive the marriage rates down."
Brownback said more attention needs to be focused on strengthening families. "And currently in this country - currently - we're at 36 percent of our children born out of wedlock," he said. "You can raise a good child in that setting, but we know the best place is between a mom and a dad, bonded together for life."
Rudy Giuliani boasted about New York City during Wednesday's debate.
(CNN) - Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, during the GOP debate on Wednesday night, said that "the FBI would disagree" with Fred Thompson for saying he didn't feel safe in New York City.
"People have the right to their own feelings," said Giuliani. "[But] the reality is, he was safer in New York than just about any other city in the United States after I was mayor for about three or four years."
Giuliani said New York City was the "safest large city" in the United States under his watch.
Kansas Sen. Sam Brownback participated in the Republican debate on Wednesday.
(CNN) - Kansas Sen. Sam Brownback made clear at Wednesday night's New Hampshire debate that he disagrees with embattled Sen. Larry Craig's decision to reconsider his resignation.
"He's already pulled that trigger and he's decided what to do and he needs to stick with that," Brownback, a social conservative, said of his Idaho colleague.
"I think it is important that our party stand for family values," Brownback added. "We have got to rebuild the family. That's at the core of what we need to do. We shouldn't walk away from family values for fear of instances like this happening within our party."
– CNN Ticker Producer Alexander Mooney
(CNN) – Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama tried to turn the tables on his chief party rivals Wednesday when questioned about his experience.
At a backyard event in Sac City, Iowa, Obama claimed he had more relevant experience than his main opponents. Responding to a question from a voter, he said, "I find it amusing, the whole experience argument, because I've been in public service for over two decades now. I've been in elective office longer than John Edwards or Hillary Clinton. I've passed more bills, I'm sure, than either of them."
Continuing the theme he's hit hard on the trail, the Illinois Democrat told the crowd, "What people seem to mean when they say that I don't have enough experience is I haven't been in Washington as long as they have. Now, I don't know about you, but I don't think that's necessarily a criteria for gauging experience."
–CNN Political Desk Managing Editor Steve Brusk