(CNN)–The chairwoman of the Florida Democratic Party says the party will hold its presidential primary on Jan. 29, despite being told by the Democratic National Committee that doing so will result in the state losing its 210 delegates to the 2008 nominating convention in Denver.
"After months of careful deliberations, your Party's leaders have chosen overwhelmingly to reaffirm our strong commitment to fully participating in the state-run Democratic Presidential Primary on January 29, 2008, despite the penalties from the Democratic National Committee," Karen Thurman said in an email message to Florida Democrats on Sunday. "There will be no other primary. Florida Democrats absolutely must vote on January 29th," Thurman said. "We make this election matter. Not the DNC, not the delegates, not the candidates, but Florida Democrats like you and me voting together. We make it count."
Thurman was adamant the significance of the vote would not be diluted despite the possibility of sanctions from the Democratic National Committee. "Don't let anybody call this vote a "beauty contest" or a "straw poll," Thurman said in the email. "On January 29, 2008, there will be a fair and open election in Florida, which will provide for maximum voter participation. The nation will be paying attention, and Florida Democrats will have a major impact in determining who the next President of the United States of America will be."
Thurman, along with officials of the Florida Democratic party, and the state and national Congressional delegations, held a press conference Sunday afternoon in Pembroke Pines, Florida to make the announcement.
Hagel said he has no plans to run on a ticket with New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
WASHINGTON (CNN)–Sen. Chuck Hagel, R-Nebraska, all but put to rest the rampant speculation that he has been planning to run on a third party presidential ticket with New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg. Chatter for their potential run started months ago when the two political mavericks had dinner together in Washington.
Though neither politician has ruled out running for higher office, Sen. Hagel said on CNN’s Late Edition this morning that there is no plan in place to run together. “I have never, along with Mayor Bloomberg, as far as I know, come to any conclusions or worked our way towards [running together] or applied any focus on that,” Sen. Hagel said. “I don't really see that happening.”
Sen. Hagel announced last week he would not run for reelection in the Senate when his term expires in 2008.
-CNN Late Edition Producer Ted Metzger
A Moveon.org ad about Petraeus in the New York Times has generated a great deal of controversy.
(CNN) - The New York Times' public editor Sunday became the latest public figure to slam the paper over a controversial ad by MoveOn.org that criticized Gen. David Petraeus, the top U.S. general in Iraq.
Clark Hoyt, who analyzes the paper's coverage as the "readers' representative," wrote, "I think the ad violated The Times's own written standards, and the paper now says that the advertiser got a price break it was not entitled to."
The group, Hoyt wrote, paid $64,575, which is the paper's "standby" rate - meaning it cannot guarantee placement on a certain day. The group wanted it to run on Sept. 10, the day Petraeus testified to Congress about the state of affairs in Iraq, and it did, meaning MoveOn should have paid $142,083, he wrote.
In response, MoveOn announced that it was never told of the error, but that it will retroactively pay the higher rate - even though it believes the higher figure "is above the market rate paid by most" organizations.
The liberal advocacy group challenged former New York mayor and current Republican presidential hopeful Rudy Giuliani - who paid the same lower rate for his response ad - to follow its lead.
The Times said it had erred. Spokeswoman Catherine Mathis said the paper's earlier insistence that MoveOn had paid the standard rate was incorrect. "We do not, however, determine rates based on the political content of ads, and Times Company personnel did not review this ad until after the rate was accepted," she said. "Nonetheless, we made an error and were slow to respond when asked about it. We apologize."
Obama said he also dances to the sounds of 'Earth, Wind and Fire' and Beyonce.
CRESTON, Iowa (CNN) - At a middle school in rural Iowa, Presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama, D-Illinois, took questions ranging from illegal immigration to Cuba. But it wasn't until the rope line that he was asked the real hardball of the day:
"Barack, what's your favorite song?" a dance teacher in the crowd yelled.
Signing autographs, Obama looked up.
"Oh, I got so many favorite songs," he said. "Do you want old school or new school?"
"I want your school," she replied.
After thinking it over for about another minute of signing souvenirs and posing for pictures, Obama came up with an answer.
"I tell you what. I can tell you the kinds of stuff that I love dancing to, and that is–I'm sort of of the generation of Stevie Wonder and 'Earth, Wind and Fire,'" he said to a cheer.
"I'm dating myself now," he continued.
"But I'm sort of hip to the younger stuff. You know, like Beyonce's 'Crazy in Love.' That's a good song to dance to. Eminem has a–although he curses sometimes."
-CNN Iowa Producer Chris Welch
Clinton said it is clear the President 'has no intention of changing his policy in Iraq.'.
(CNN)–Senator Hillary Clinton says the Democratic majority in the Senate is trying to change the policy in Iraq, but still finds itself short of the votes necessary to do so.
"Unfortunately we have most of the Republicans in the Senate continuing to side with the President and that meant that we have not been able to what we need to with sixty votes necessary to send something to the President," the Democratic presidential candidate told CNN's Wolf Blitzer on 'Late Edition,' "He has said that he would veto it. I think what has become clear though, Wolf, is that the President has no intention of changing his policy in Iraq."
"I have reached the conclusion that the best way to support our troops is to begin bringing them home," Clinton said. "I don't believe we should continue to vote for funding that has an open-ended commitment, that has no pressure on the Iraqi government to make the tough political decisions they have to make or which really gives any urgency to the Bush administration’s diplomatic efforts."
Clinton said the conditions for political reform in Iraq cannot be created by the U.S. military presence there. "There is no doubt that everyone agrees except perhaps the President there is no military solution in Iraq," she said. "That has been the constant refrain from the military and others experts that in the absence of political decisions being made, you might have tactical gains on the ground but you are not going to create a stable, secure Iraq."
Clinton also responded to the fallout from an ad by the liberal group Moveon.org that attacked General David Petraeus, the top military commander in Iraq. "I don't condone attacks by anyone on the patriotism and service of our military," she said. "I am an admirer of General Petraeus, as I've said on numerous occasions. I don't condone it, and I joined in voting for a resolution that condemned such attacks. But let's be clear here. This debate should not be about an ad. This debate should be about the president's failed policies."
Clinton was a guest on all five network Sunday political talk shows.
– CNN Political Desk Editor Jamie Crawford
Gingrich will gauge his support for a possible run ovre the coming weeks.
(CNN)–Will he or won't he run for president? Many people watching the GOP race for president have been asking that question of Newt Gingrich for months. Gingrich says wait a little longer.
Appearing on 'Fox News Sunday,' Gingrich said his advisor, Randy Evans, would spend the next few weeks talking to people across the country to determine whether they can raise the financial resources necessary to mount a presidential run.
"Governor Romney has been very successful legitimately as a businessman," Gingrich said of former the Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney who is currently seeking the GOP nomination. "He can write a $100 million check. I mean, there's no point in getting into a fight with a guy who can drown you unless you at least have enough resources for a vote. And so if we have enough resources, then close to that we'll face a very big decision in late October. If there aren't enough resources, I'm not for doing unrealistic things," Gingrich said.
Gingrich has said he wants to see if he can get pledges of $30 million before deciding to jump into the race. "I don't want to go out on personal ambition," he told Fox's Chris Wallace. "If there is, in fact, enough people in the country who think we need this kind of approach and this kind of change-oriented policies, then I think I'd feel a responsibility to run."
But would that be too short of time to mount a serious campaign with the first votes of the front loaded primary calendar happening earlier than years past? "I think in the age of television, we are reaching more people today than Abraham Lincoln reached personally his entire career," he said. "You know, we have many friends across the country. If we have enough friends, I think we could mount a campaign in a matter of weeks."
– CNN Political Desk Editor Jamie Crawford
Romney criticizes his fellow Republicans in a new ad.
WASHINGTON (CNN) – Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney criticizes his fellow Republicans for failing to control spending, neglecting to take action on illegal immigration and the party’s own ethical lapses, in a new television ad set to air Sunday in the Washington, D.C. market.
Romney’s new 30-second ad “Change Begins With Us” will air during NBC’s “Meet The Press,” and will be complemented by a full page “open letter” print ad set to run Sunday in the New Hampshire Union Leader and in Monday’s edition of Roll Call, an influential Capitol Hill newspaper.
“If we're going to change Washington, Republicans have to put our own house in order,” warns Romney, as he walks towards the camera. “We can't be like Democrats – a party of big spending. We can't pretend our borders are secure from illegal immigration. We can't have ethical standards that are a punch line for Jay Leno.”
Romney adds, “When Republicans act like Democrats, America loses. It's time for Republicans to start acting like Republicans. It's time for a change and change begins with us.”
Romney is seeking the GOP presidential nomination.
The television ad is currently running in the key early primary states of Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina. The ad is designed to reach conservative GOP base voters, who are frustrated with how Republicans are operating in Washington.
Evan Tracey of TNS Media Intelligence/CMAG - CNN’s consultant on television advertising - said Romney’s decision to buy time on “Meet The Press” was a calculated move to advance his “change” theme with opinion leaders and activists.
Kevin Madden, Romney’s campaign spokesman, said the former governor’s blunt message of the need for change within his own party is being well received by Republicans from across the country.
“They agree that it is a powerful message that serves as a call to Republicans to restore the American public’s faith in our party as one of fiscal conservatism, security and high ethical standards,” Madden said. “When we do that as a party, Gov. Romney believes we can lead a movement to change Washington.”
– CNN Political Editor Mark Preston
Obama said private security firms should follow miltary codes of conduct.
CRESTON, Iowa (CNN) - Sen. Barack Obama, D-Illinois, said Saturday during a question and answer period that he doesn't have "much patience" for private security firms like Blackwater USA "getting paid by U.S. Tax dollars."
Blackwater USA provides protection for U.S. Diplomats in Iraq. But the Iraqi government prohibited the firm from operating after a shooting incident Sunday where, according to the Iraqi government, as many as 20 civilians were killed by gunfire from Blackwater USA contractors guarding a U.S. diplomatic convoy. The U.S. Claims the guards were responding to an attack.
"It just so happens I introduced a bill in February...that says we've got to place Blackwater and all these private security firms under the same codes of conduct and the same auditing as our U.S. military."
The Democratic presidential candidate said companies like Blackwater can be "just as damaging to our foreign policy as anybody."
"The Iraqis look at these folks as if they're Americans," he said. "They don't make the distinction between...a private security firm [and]...the U.S. Military. It's all the same to them."
TIME.com: U.S. resumes Blackwater convoys
-CNN Iowa Producer Chris Welch