MANCHESTER, New Hampshire (CNN) - Gov. Bill Richardson scored a significant endorsement Thursday from one of New Hampshire's top Democrats, former Manchester mayor Bob Baines.
"In the race for president, there are a few candidates with experience, and there are a few others who represent change," Baines said in a written statement. "Bill Richardson is the only candidate who can bring both change and experience to the White House."
Baines, who the Richardson campaign points out was twice named as one of New Hampshire's "Ten Most Powerful People" by a local business magazine, served as mayor from 2000 to 2006. He was defeated for re-election in 2005.
"In the battle for votes in the state's largest city, Bob Baines' endorsement is a clear win for Bill Richardson," said Scott Spradling, political director for WMUR-TV in Manchester. "Connected in city politics, Baines still has the type of access to a grassroots operation that you would expect a former mayor to have, and he can potentially provide access to supporters throughout the city."
The impact of the Baines endorsement on Richardson's long-term standing in the Granite State remains to be seen.
"Endorsements in New Hampshire are nice, but rarely have they shown to make a huge difference with independent-minded voters. What Baines can do is perhaps provide a new introduction to an audience he [Richardson] has not met yet," said Spradling.
- CNN New Hampshire Producer Sareena Dalla
(CNN) – Michigan Rep. Pete Hoekstra and former CIA and State Department official Cofer Black will advise former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney on intelligence and terrorism issues, his presidential campaign announced Thursday.
Hoekstra, the senior Republican on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, will oversee Romney’s Intelligence Policy Advisory Group, while Black will head the governor’s Counter-Terrorism Policy Advisory Group. The formation of these new campaign advisory panels comes the same week that the top commander in Iraq testified before Congress about the situation in the war torn country and several hours before President Bush was set to address the nation on the topic.
“We have made progress in securing our homeland since 9/11, but we still have much work to do,” Romney said in a statement released by the campaign. The former Massachusetts governor also said that “effective intelligence-gathering and counter-terror efforts that can prevent further attacks” are “critical” to the country’s security.
–CNN Associate Producer Martina Stewart
DES MOINES, Iowa (CNN) - It may be his last week on the job, but embattled United States Attorney General Alberto Gonzales said he wasn't about to cancel a scheduled trip to Iowa. He met Thursday with local partners of a group that combats sexual abuse and exploitation of children, because he said it's an issue he and his wife view as "very important."
But at a news conference after the meeting, a reporter prefaced a question by mentioning that Gonzales has been harshly criticized in the weeks leading up to his resignation. Gonzales let out a subtle laugh. The reporter asked him how he'll look back on his tenure.
"With a great deal of pride, quite frankly," Gonzales said. "It's a great privilege to serve in this position, and when you serve in these positions obviously sometimes there are tough decisions and tough times that occur, but I think we did a lot of good things."
Gonzales cited an infrastructure that's been put in place to "protect our kids" as one of those positive things. He also said he thinks that under his watch a "lot of good things" have been done to protect the United States from another terrorism attack.
When asked if there was anything he regrets Gonzales said, "Well of course, we're all human and all of us make mistakes, and the thing that's important is to identify when those mistakes are made, acknowledge the mistakes, correct the mistakes and then you move on... So that's what I've endeavored to do as attorney general."
Gonzales' resignation takes effect Monday.
-CNN Iowa Producer Chris Welch
Obama said Thursday Oprah may stump for him on the trail.
COLUMBIA, South Carolina (CNN) - Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama said in a TV interview here Thursday that having Oprah Winfrey in South Carolina "would be a lot of fun for everyone," and added the popular television host has expressed interest in hitting the stump.
In the interview with South Carolina's ETV, Obama also called Oprah and and his wife Michelle "two powerhouse women."
Asked if Oprah would come stump for him in this crucial early primary state, Obama said: "I can't make promises, but I know that she has expressed an interest in South Carolina and maybe we can pull that ... Certainly it would be a lot of fun for everyone."
Obama did the interview by phone from Iowa.
Why would Oprah's presence here matter? Obama and Sen. Hillary Clinton are battling to win over African-American women voters in this state, and a new poll from ETV and Winthrop University that will be released tonight shows Obama and Clinton dead even among African-American women.
"The real tipping point in the Democratic primary election may be undecided African-American female voters-there are many more African-American female undecideds than males," Winthrop University political scientist Scott Huffmon said in a news release.
- CNN South Carolina Producer Peter Hamby
WASHINGTON (CNN) – Presidential candidate Fred Thompson, R-Tennessee, picked up an endorsement Thursday from Sen. Thad Cochran, R-Mississippi.
Sen. Cochran’s endorsement comes a little over a week after Thompson formally announced his candidacy for president.
“Thompson is the candidate best able to win the general election in 2008 and carry our conservative values all the way to the White House,” said Cochran in a statement released by the Thompson campaign.
Cochran is serving his fifth term in the U.S. Senate.
- CNN Ticker Producer Xuan Thai
President Bush goes over a draft of tonight's address to the nation with members of the White House speechwriting staff Thursday, Sept. 13, 2007, in the Oval Office. With him, from left, are: Marc Theissen, Bill McGurn and Christopher Michel. White House photo by Eric Draper.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - President Bush is expected to emphasize what his administration calls "bottom-up" political progress in Iraq in a major address to the nation Thursday night, a senior administration official said.
Amid Democratic criticism and Republican concerns that the so-called troop surge has failed to produce national reconciliation at the top levels in Baghdad, the official said the president is expected to argue that grass-roots efforts by Iraqis are "laying the groundwork for national reconciliation" but there is a "long haul and tough work ahead."
Bush ordered nearly 30,000 additional troops to Iraq in January - a move known as "the surge" - in an effort to pacify Baghdad and its surrounding provinces amid rampant sectarian and insurgent warfare.
Gen. David Petraeus, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, told congressional hearings this week the surge campaign has met its military goals of reducing sectarian killings by more than 50 percent nationwide and by more than 80 percent in Baghdad.
The NRSC went live with a Web site seeking to paint Warner as a liberal.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Republicans wasted no time Thursday in launching an all-out offensive on former Virginia Gov. Mark Warner, who announced in the morning he would seek the seat being vacated by GOP Sen. John Warner.
Warner, a Democrat, once flirted with the idea of running for his party’s 2008 presidential nomination.
The National Republican Senatorial Committee went live with a Web site: http://www.dontmarkwarner.com/, at about the same time Warner declared his candidacy via video on his campaign Web Site: http://www.markwarner2008.com/, and by e-mail to supporters.
The NRSC Web site seeks to paint Warner as a liberal lawmaker who raised taxes and vetoed a bill that would have outlawed partial birth abortion. Warner, who left the governor’s office with a high approval rating, often touts his ability to work across party lines. Meanwhile, former Virginia Gov. Jim Gilmore and Rep. Tom Davis are considering running for the Republican Senate nomination.
- CNN Political Editor Mark Preston
Hsu left a note saying he intended to commit suicide, according to the Wall Street Journal.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Two days after The Wall Street Journal reported fugitive Democratic fundraiser Norman Hsu was found sprawled on the floor of a train cabin surrounded by pills, the newspaper reports Hsu drafted a suicide note before he went briefly missing.
The Journal reported in Thursday's edition that Hsu, who was convicted for investment fraud in the 1990's and failed to appear in court last Wednesday, sent copies of his suicide note to "several acquaintances and charitable organizations" before he boarded an Amtrak train bound for Chicago.
According to a recipient of the note who spoke with the Journal, Hsu "very explicitly said he intended to commit suicide," and also apologized if he put people "through inconvenience or trouble."
Hsu has raised campaign cash for several Democrats, but most significantly for Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-New York. On Monday, the New York Democrat's presidential campaign said it would return $850,000 raised by Hsu to individual donors. The Democratic National Committee also told CNN it is now re-vetting $47,000 worth of contributions raised by Hsu between 2004-2007 verifying them with the donors directly.
In a conference call with reporters Tuesday, Clinton said she would not actively ask the donors to make a new contribution to her campaign.
"We're not asking that that be done," she said, according to the Associated Press. "But I believe that the vast majority of those 200-plus donors are perfectly capable of making up their own minds about what they will or won't do going forward."
Earlier in the week, the Journal reported the peculiar condition in which Hsu was found on the train
Another passenger, Joanne Segale, told the newspaper she noticed several items spill out of his sleeping cabin, and when she peeked through the window and "saw a man who appeared to be in fetal position, bare-chested."
A crowbar was needed to open the Hsu’s cabin where he was found on the ground and unable to walk, the Journal reported.
Segale also told the newspaper she noticed "lots and lots of medication in that room. I could see pills on the floor and rolling around."
Hsu was taken to a Colorado hospital and then taken into custody by the FBI.
Hsu's attorney would not comment on his client's condition but he issued a statement last week describing Hsu as being under enormous and unbearable strain.
- CNN Ticker Producer Alexander Mooney
Warner launched a campaign Web site Thursday and announced his intention to run for the Senate on YouTube.
(CNN) - Former Virginia Gov. Mark Warner turned to YouTube Thursday to announce his candidacy for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated retiring Republican Sen. John Warner.
The former governor also informed supporters Thursday morning by email about his decision to run for the Senate.
"I've decided the way I can contribute most to getting our country back on
track is to serve in the United States Senate," Warner said in the video.
Warner also said he will wait to make an official announcement until after Virginia's legislative elections in November.
- CNN Political Producer Peter Hamby