WASHINGTON (CNN) - Republican Sen. David Vitter, who admitted earlier this year to a "very serious sin" after his telephone number appeared in the telephone records of a Washington, DC escort service, faced new allegations Tuesday he had a relationship with a prostitute from his home state of Louisiana.
With Hustler magazine publisher Larry Flynt at her side, the former prostitute Wendy Ellis told reporters that Vitter employed her services several times a week between July and November of 1999. At the time, Vitter was a new face Capitol Hill, having won a special election only months earlier.
"I want the truth to be known," Ellis said. "It was a pure sexual relationship. He would come in and do his business."
Vitter, who acknowledged in July to contacting an escort service after Hustler reported his number was linked to the alleged 'DC Madam' Deborah Jeanne Palfrey,' has denied any links to Louisiana prostitutes.
"My admission has encouraged long-time political enemies and those hoping to profit from the situation to spread falsehoods, like those New Orleans stories in recent reporting,” Vitter said in July. “Those stories are not true.”
On Tuesday, Flynt said Ellis' passed a polygraph test, but he had no other evidence linking the senator to the former prostitute.
"We don't even like to mix polygraphs into this stuff, because they're not admissible in court," he said. "But you know she's concerned that she be believed as much as Vitter is believed."
Sen. Hillary Clinton received another union endorsement on Wednesday.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Praising her record on health care and postal reform, the National Association of Letter Carriers officially endorsed Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-New York, Wednesday morning.
"In the primary elections next year, you can count on letter carriers to deliver for Senator Clinton, and I am confident that in the years to come, President Hillary Clinton will deliver for every citizen throughout America," NALC President William Young said.
Clinton praised the union workers, saying they are the only workers that physically reach every home in America and called them "part of the fabric of every community." The NALC is comprised of 300,000 active and retired city delivery carriers employed by the U.S. Postal Service
She promised to appoint experienced people to head government agencies and cut down on outsourcing and foreign contractors.
"Isn't it a sad commentary that it would be a campaign issue to restore competence? But what we've seen in the last six years is indifference and incompetence," Clinton said. FULL POST
Edwards slammed Obama's Iraq plan Wednesday.
WASHINGTON (CNN) – Former Sen. John Edwards, D-North Carolina, on Wednesday called for an immediate withdrawal of 40-50,000 troops from Iraq following two days of Congressional testimony by Gen. David Petraeus and U.S. Ambassador Ryan Crocker.
Edwards, who is seeking his party’s presidential nomination, said his Democratic rivals: Sen. Barack Obama, D-Illinois, and Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-New York, as well as Sen. John Warner, R-Virginia, have “a moral responsibility to use every tool available to them, including a filibuster, to force the president to change course.”
Edwards also called Obama’s plan for troop withdrawal a copy of the president’s plan.
“Sen. Obama would withdraw only 1-2 combat brigades a month between now and the end of next year,” explained Edwards, “which for the next several months could essentially mimic the president’s own plans to withdraw 30,000 troops by next summer.”
- CNN Ticker Producer Xuan Thai
WASHINGTON (CNN) - After Sen. Barack Obama, D-Illinois, unveiled his comprehensive plan to end the war in Iraq Wednesday, his rival for the Democratic nomination Gov. Bill Richardson, D-New Mexico, attacked the senator’s plan and called his ideas "more of the same."
"Senator Obama has offered to turn the page in Iraq, but I think we need a new book," Richardson said in a statement. "Leaving behind tens of thousands of troops in Iraq for an indefinite amount of time is nothing new. This plan is inadequate and does not end the war."
In his speech, Obama said the United States needs to immediately start bringing combat troops home from Iraq, but that some troops should be left to fight al Qaeda in Iraq and in the rest of the region. Richardson called that plan "dangerous" and said that leaving some troops there won't end the war.
"There is only one responsible course of action left for us in this war," Richardson said. "We need to get all of our troops out of Iraq with no residual forces left behind. We need to withdraw both the combat troops and the tens of thousands of other troops who are there. We need to do it now."
–CNN Associate Producer Lauren Kornreich
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Sen. Barack Obama, D-Illinois, told CNN's Dana Bash Wednesday Congress needs to send President Bush a "clear message" that change is needed in Iraq. But the Illinois Democrat, who is seeking his party’s presidential nomination, appears wary of voting for any Senate bill that does not include a deadline for withdrawal.
"You know we are going to have to evaluate what's available - but it appears clear to me that the president is not willing to compromise short of Congress forcing him to accept a shorter time table, and absent that we are essentially engaging in a bunch of symbolic action there," he said.
Senate Democrats seemingly do not have the votes to pass a bill that includes a specific withdrawal timetable and are currently looking for a compromise with Republicans.
Obama is scheduled to lay out his plan for Iraq Wednesday afternoon during a speech in Iowa where he will say that U.S. troops should begin to withdraw immediately.
Sen. Chris Dodd questioned Gen. Petraeus and Amb. Crocker on Tuesday as Sen. John Kerry looked on.
(CNN) — Connecticut Sen. Chris Dodd Wednesday blasted two of his rivals for the Democratic presidential nomination, Illinois Sen. Barack Obama and New York Sen. Hillary Clinton, for not taking a tougher line on their Iraq positions.
"I was disappointed that Senator Obama's thoughts on Iraq today didn't include a firm, enforceable deadline for redeployment, and dismayed that neither he nor Senator Clinton will give an unequivocal answer on whether they would support a measure if it didn't have such an enforceable deadline," Dodd said in a statement released by his presidential campaign.
"It is clear to me – especially after yesterday's testimony – that half-measures aren't going to stop this President or end our involvement in this civil war," said Dodd, referring to testimony provided by Gen. David Petraeus and Amb. Ryan Crocker Tuesday before a Senate committee. "I thought it was clear to Senators Obama and Clinton as well after they finally came around to supporting the Feingold-Reid measure and voting against a blank-check supplemental spending bill this spring. If 'enough was enough' then, why isn't it after the bloodiest summer of the war?"
Both Clinton and Obama voted against a Defense bill measure that funded military operations in Iraq earlier this year.
Sen. Clinton, D-New York, leads her nearest Democratic presidential rival, Sen. Barack Obama, D-Illinois, by 29 points, according to the Quinnipiac University survey released today. In the Republican horserace, Giuliani, the former New York City Mayor, is up by 11 points over his closest rival, former Sen Fred Thompson, R-Tennessee, who formally announced his candidacy last week.
If Clinton and Giuliani face off in the general election in November 2008, it seems that Floridians are split. The two candidates are deadlocked at 44 percent each in the hypothetical match up. But Giuliani comes out on top in hypothetical match ups with both Sen. Obama and former Sen. John Edwards, D-North Carolina.
Florida has long been a major player in the general election. The 36-day Florida recount, of course, was responsible for settling the 2000 contest between George W. Bush and Al Gore. This time around, Florida should also be a heavyweight in the primary process. The Sunshine State has moved up its primary to January 29, just one week ahead of the score of states from coast to coast that will hold their contests on February 5.
Quinnipiac University surveyed 1,141 Florida voters from September 3-9, with a margin of error of plus or minus 2.9 percentage points.
- CNN Deputy Political Director Paul Steinhauser
In a letter to president Bush, Clinton said a troop withdrawal this summer is "too little, too late."
Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-New York, sent a letter to President Bush describing his reported plan to withdraw 30,000 troops next summer "too little too late and unacceptable to this Congress."
"As Commander-in-Chief you have the authority and ability to greatly accelerate the redeployment of U.S. forces from Iraq, and to bring so many more troops home so much faster," Clinton, who sits on the Senate Armed Services Committee, writes in the letter. "I strongly urge you to choose this course of action."
She added, "Mr. President, it has been nearly four and a half years since you landed on an aircraft carrier and stood before the American people under a banner that read 'Mission Accomplished.' Do not repeat that mistake on Thursday night. Do not misrepresent the facts about the situation on the ground. And do not portray an unavoidable reduction in U.S. troops to pre-surge levels that would occur anyway as a marker of success. Be candid with the American people."
During her endorsement event with the National Association of Letter Carriers Wednesday morning, Clinton criticized Bush for troop reductions that "were going to happen anyway" and demanded that he "start bringing troops home now."
"Taking credit for this troop reduction is like taking credit for the sun coming up in the morning," Clinton said. "The president has the authority to bring our troops home safely and responsibly starting now. But he just won't do it."
Meanwhile, in what has been billed as a major address on Iraq later Wednesday in Iowa, Obama plans to call for a withdrawal to begin "immediately."
- CNN's Jessica Yellin and Alexander Mooney
Sen. Barack Obama will lay out his plan to "turn the page" in Iraq.
WASHINGTON (CNN) – In what his campaign is billing as "a major national security address," Illinois Sen. Barack Obama will outline his plan today to end the war in Iraq and "his vision for what America can achieve once it turns the page" in that country.
Speaking at Ashford University this afternoon in Clinton, IA, the Illinois senator will detail a four-part plan to turn that page, according to excerpts of his speech made available to CNN.
1. "Immediately begin to pull out troops engaged in combat operations at a pace of one or two brigades every month, to be completed by the end of next year."
2. "Call for a new constitutional convention in Iraq, convened with the United Nations, which would not adjourn until Iraq's leaders reach a new accord on reconciliation."
3. "Use presidential leadership to surge our diplomacy with all of the nations of the region on behalf of a new regional security compact.”
4. "Take immediate steps to confront the humanitarian disaster in Iraq, and to hold accountable any perpetrators of war crimes."
In advanced excerpts of his remarks, Obama, who is seeking the Democratic presidential nomination, says the "bar for success" now in Iraq "is so low that it is almost buried in the sand... We've had enough of a war that should never have been authorized and should never have been waged."
"I opposed this war from the beginning," Obama says, according to the excerpts. "I opposed the war in 2002. I opposed it in 2003. I opposed it in 2004. I opposed it in 2005. I opposed it in 2006. I introduced a plan in January to remove all of our combat brigades by next March. And I am here to say that we have to begin to end this war now."
–CNN Associate Producer Stephen Bach
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Joining “American Morning” from Council Bluffs, Iowa, Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, told CNN's John Roberts Wednesday that he believes he's doing much better in the early primary states of Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina than what the polls show.
"We've always had a solid political base and organization in these states," McCain said. "Look, I'm not predicting victory. I'm predicting we will continue to do well because I can out-campaign most anybody and I obviously believe that I can display my qualifications to serve."
McCain spoke in front of his tour bus, emblazoned with the words "No Surrender" – the title of his current weeklong tour through those early states. Today, he campaigns in Council Bluffs, Des Moines, and Waterloo, before heading to New Hampshire tomorrow and South Carolina on Saturday.
Asked about the latest Los Angeles Times/Bloomberg Poll, in which McCain places fourth in the Hawkeye State, McCain said there was much work to be done, but he can gauge his progress by turnout at his events.
"We got a lot of work to do," he said. "These are tough campaigns. I wasn't in Iowa in 2000 so (I've) got a lot of work to do here. But again, it's fun. I can sense when things are going well in a campaign by the turnouts to the town hall meetings. We're doing well, but it's a long struggle."
- CNN Associate Producer Stephen Bach