Craig is surrounded by reporters his first day back on the Hill.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Sen. Larry Craig of Idaho, who made a surprise visit to Capitol Hill Tuesday, directly apologized at a party luncheon to his Senate Republican colleagues "for any embarrassment," a member present at the lunch told CNN.
According to the source, Craig did not address at the lunch whether he plans to stay in Washington beyond September 30 - the date on which he had previously said he would resign.
Asked after the lunch by CNN if he is considering staying in the Senate, Craig said, "We're working on that now."
Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pennsylvania, who has previously come to Craig's defense, shook hands with the Idaho Republican in front of reporters and told Craig it's "nice to see you smiling."
Later, Specter indicated Senate Republicans may be willing to support Craig if he decides to stay in the Senate.
“There’s been a lot of favorable talk about Larry in the cloak room," Specter told CNN. "And I think the initial shock has worn off."
"He’s been a colleague for a long time – 17 years – you don’t toss over a friend of that duration and intensity easily," Specter added.
Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, also offered support of Craig, saying, "I don’t think there was any underlying crime."
Hatch also said he thinks that "a good lawyer could win that case.”
– CNN's Jessica Yellin and Ted Barrett
Hillary Clinton announced her plan for health care coverage on Monday in Des Moines.
COLUMBIA, South Carolina (CNN) - Building off Sen. Hillary Clinton's much publicized health care plan announced this week, Clinton's South Carolina campaign Tuesday announced a committee dedicated to promoting her "American Health Choices Plan" in this early primary state.
The "South Carolina Health Care Professionals for Hillary" will meet at a hospital in Columbia tomorrow to promote Clinton's plan.
The nine-member committee, made up of working and retired health care professionals, is notably all-female.
The group is one of several "For Hillary" committees launched by the campaign here. Just ten days ago, the Clinton campaign also launched "South Carolina Seniors for Hillary Steering Committee," which also named health care as a priority issue for South Carolina.
– CNN South Carolina Producer Peter Hamby
Watch Gloria Borger's take on the health care and income tax proposals offered by Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and John Edwards.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Senior Political Analyst Gloria Borger takes a look at Sen. Barack Obama's new income tax plan, Sen. Hillary Clinton's universal health care plan, and John Edwards's unique method for getting Congress to pass his health care plan if elected to the White House.
Related: Obama's tax plan: Robin Hood Approach
Related: Clinton talks health care
Related: Edwards threatens to cut off health insurance for Congress
The presidential jet set may be a jetting around a little less or paying more to do so because of new ethics reform legislation.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - The ethics reform legislation recently passed by Congress will make it more expensive for the 2008 White House hopefuls to travel the country in order to campaign. CNN's Chief National Correspondent John King has the story.
Watch excerpts of Sen. Obama's tax policy speech.
WASHINGTON (CNN) – Barack Obama unveiled his tax cut plan Tuesday in Washington. Some would call it a Robin Hood approach, taking from the rich and giving to the poor. (Related: Obama tax plan: $80 billion in cuts, five-minute filings)
"At a time when Americans are working harder than ever, we are taxing income from work at nearly twice the level that we're taxing gains for investors," said the Democratic presidential candidate.
Obama said the current tax system is working against most Americans and he wants to fix it, arguing, "I'll restore simplicity to the tax code and fairness for the American middle class. It's time to stand up to special interest carve outs.”
Obama said his plan calls for “cutting taxes for working people, homeowners, and seniors."
Among the specifics: a tax cut of up to one thousand dollars for 150 million working Americans, a tax credit for homeowners that don't itemize their deductions, eliminating the income tax for seniors making less than 50 thousand dollars annually, and a simplified tax filing process
The Illinois senator said that he’ll pay for all this by “shutting down corporate loopholes and tax havens. We'll also turn the page on an approach that gives repeated tax cuts to the wealthiest one percent of Americans even though they don't need them and didn't ask for them."
Supporters of D.C. voting rights were on Capitol Hill Tuesday.
WASHINGTON (CNN) – The DC Voting Rights Bill failed to get the 60 votes needed in the Senate to reach cloture and move toward a vote Tuesday.
The bill would have given the District of Columbia the right to a representative in Congress with full voting rights. The District currently has an elected delegate who does not have the right to vote on legislation that comes to the floor of the House of Representatives, but can sometimes vote for legislation when it is considered at the committee level.
Supporters of the bill, including D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty, claimed disenfranchisement for the nearly 600,000 residents of the city.
"Not since segregation has the Senate blocked a voting rights bill,” Fenty told a crowd during a rally, “and this is a voting rights bill."
Those against the bill argued the bill violated the constitution because the right to vote can only be given to citizens of states. Others feared that the bill would give the District a pathway toward gaining two seats in the Senate.
President Bush had threatened to veto the bill had it passed in the Senate.
– CNN Ticker Producer Xuan Thai
Thompson met with Florida Gov. Charlie Crist Tuesday.
(CNN) – Republican presidential candidate Fred Thompson said Tuesday that while drilling for oil in Florida’s Everglades would be “drastic,” he won’t rule it out.
At a press availability in Tallahassee with Florida’s Republican governor Charlie Crist, Thompson was asked whether oil should be drilled in the famous ecosystem if large reserves were discovered there.
“Well, gosh. Nobody has told me that there are any major reserves in the Everglades, but maybe that’s one of the things I need to learn while I’m down here,” Thompson responded.
Crist quickly jumped in. “We’d rather not do that,” he said.
“I’m not going to start by taking this, that, or the other off the table in terms of our overall energy situation,” Thompson said. “We’ve got to do better in terms of nuclear. We’ve got to do better in terms of finding environmentally friendly ways to use coal, which we have plenty of.”
The Everglades is a vast subtropical marshland that comprises much of South Florida. In 2002, the Department of Interior announced plans to purchase oil and gas rights for a large tract of the region, which is estimated to hold nearly 40 billion barrels of oil. The Department’s actions have effectively protected the land from drilling.
– CNN Political Desk Editor Mark Norman
Former President Bush made a surprise appearance at a McCain event Monday in South Carolina.
(CNN) - There was a surprise guest, albeit by videotape, at the final stop of John McCain's "No Surrender" tour in South Carolina on Monday night.
Former President George H.W. Bush spoke to the crowd at The Citadel in Charleston, thanking McCain for "standing tall" in his support of the war in Iraq.
"The bottom line is we must persevere, we must not surrender. We must not quit and run away," Bush said. "God bless our troops and everyone involved in the 'No Surrender' rally there in Charleston."
The Bush camp was quick to point out the appearance was not an endorsement of McCain, and was a one-time-only event.
Bush spokeswoman Jean Becker told CNN Bush was asked to make the tape by his longtime close friend Robert Mosbacher, the former Commerce Secretary and party fund-raiser who backs McCain and is serving as his general chairman.
The timing of McCain trip, following Gen. David Petreaus' report to Congress and the president's speech Thursday on war policy, is what led Bush to agree to the taping, she said.
The Edwards camp is blasting Clinton's fundraiser Tuesday.
WASHINGTON (CNN) – Former Sen. John Edwards’s presidential campaign criticized Sen. Hillary Clinton Tuesday in a low donor fundraising appeal that rebukes her for holding a high dollar fundraiser with Washington lobbyists.
Joe Trippi, an advisor to the former North Carolina Democratic senator, described Clinton’s afternoon fundraiser as the “’poster child’ for what is wrong with Washington and what should never happen again with a candidate running for the highest office in the land,” in an email sent to supporters.
Trippi specifically takes the New York Democrat to task for this homeland security themed event where contributors will rub elbows with powerful Congressional Democrats.
"Tickets for the Clinton fundraiser are $1,000 a ticket and $25,000 per bundler," Trippi continued. "And for that money you get more than a meal—you get to attend one-hour breakout sessions in four different areas of homeland security that will include House Committee Chairs and members of Congress who sit on the very committees that will be voting on homeland security legislation."
"The American people know that the system in Washington has become corroded and corrupt—that the nation's capital is awash in campaign money from lobbyists seeking to gain influence to impact legislation," he added.
Responding to Trippi's comments, Clinton spokesman Phil Singer said, "Increasingly negative attacks against other democrats aren’t going to end the war, deliver universal health care or turn John Edwards' flagging campaign around."
– CNN Ticker Producer Alexander Mooney
Listen to Craig's exchange with CNN.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Sen. Larry Craig of Idaho made a surprise appearance Tuesday the U.S. Capitol, his first since the scandal broke last month over allegations he tried to solicit sex from an undercover police officer in a restroom at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport.
The Republican senator had a brief exchange with CNN's Ted Barrett at a Capitol entrance:
Barrett: "What brings you back to the Capitol today?"
Craig: "Go to work."
Barrett: "Are you intending to vote today, sir?"
Craig: "That's my plan."
Barrett: "Why decide to come back today?"
Craig: "Because I'm a serving United States Senator from Idaho."
Craig then stepped into the senators' dining room on the first floor of the Capitol. On the way he passed a visibly surprised Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina, who gave Craig a big welcome back handshake.
Craig was later asked by reporters if his presence in the Capitol today means he will not resign.
The Idaho Republican responded, " no not at all - I'm here to work with my staff and my office and to work with my legal team."
Asked if he is confident about his court case, he said, "I have no opinion. I'd like to be."