McCain said he is the only candidate fit to lead during a war.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, called the Democratic presidential candidates' plans to withdraw troops from Iraq "very dangerous thinking" and said Thursday he would send more soldiers into the war-torn country.
"Democratic candidates for president will argue for the course of cutting our losses and withdrawing from the threat in the vain hope it will not follow us here," McCain said in a speech to the Hudson Institute in New York City. "I cannot join them in such wishful and very dangerous thinking. Peace at any price is an illusion, and its costs are always more tragic than the sacrifices victory requires."
McCain said he is the only candidate fit to lead during a war, since he has actual battle experience. He slammed his Republican rivals and said that "tough talk or managerial successes in the private sector aren't adequate" to make tough decisions in wartime.
The GOP hopeful said he would increase the level of Army and Marine troops in Iraq and Afghanistan from 750,000 to 900,000, which he said would cost billions of dollars annually. He said he would also create agencies to deal with public diplomacy to improve America's image in the world.
McCain also criticized Columbia University for allowing Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to speak on campus while banning ROTC, a college-based army training program.
"I fear for our future when terrorist leaders are welcome at our most prestigious centers of learning, universities conceived to strengthen and nurture the ideals of Western liberal political thought, and young men and women who volunteered to risk their lives to defend those ideals are not," McCain said.
- CNN Associate Producer Lauren Kornreich
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Former President Bill Clinton blasted Republicans Wednesday for their recent uproar over a MoveOn.org newspaper ad questioning Gen. David Petraeus' credibility, telling CNN's Anderson Cooper their "feigned outrage" was completely "disingenuous."
"This was classic bait and switch - focus on that as opposed to focusing on what's happened," the former president said.
Clinton also highlighted a string of past questionable campaign commercials targeting Democrats, and suggested Republicans are acting hypocritically.
"These are the people that ran a television ad in Georgia with [former Sen.] Max Cleland - who lost half his body in Vietnam - in the same ad with Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein. That's what the Republicans did," he continued. "And the person that rode to the senate on that ad was there voting to condemn the democrats over the Petraeus ad.
"I mean, these are the people that funded the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth. And the president appointed one of the principal founders of the Swift Boat ads to be an ambassador," Clinton added. "But they're really upset about Petraeus. But it was okay to question [Massachusetts Sen.] John Kerry's patriotism on a blatantly dishonest play that had dishonest claims by people that didn't know what they were talking about."
- CNN Ticker Producer Alexander Mooney
(CNN) - How does the 2008 presidential race look in New Hampshire? CNN Senior Political Correspondent Candy Crowley and CNN's Bill Caiaccio discuss Wednesday's debate between the Democratic presidential contenders and the latest CNN/WMUR GOP poll results, in this Race to '08 podcast.
(CNN) - That's right, I said it. And I mean it.
The GOP as a whole is completely scared of black voters, and the actions by the front-runners for the party's 2008 nomination show they are continuing the same silly political games the party has played for years.
Oh, don't bother tossing out the appointments of Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice as secretary of state by Bush. Yes, they are African-American. But I'm speaking of the party.
Wednesday night was National House Party Night for the Giuliani campaign.
LEXINGTON, South Carolina (CNN) - As part of Rudy Giuliani's National House Party Night to raise last minute cash before the third quarter fundraising deadline, the Giuliani campaign helped organize a handful of gatherings across South Carolina.
There were about 30 people at a House Party in Lexington on Wednesday evening, and the party host urged a donation minimum of 20 dollars, some of which covered pizza and drinks.
At 8:30 p.m., eyes turned to a wall-mounted plasma television that was connected to a laptop, on which Giuliani appeared to speak in a national Web cast to thank supporters. The former New York City mayor took questions from the Web, and spent several minutes excoriating Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, whom Giuliani said lives in "a fantasy world."
Giuliani got his biggest response from the Lexington crowd when he said immigrants to the United States should understand the language and civics of the country.
At the end of the Web cast, hosts were urged to FedEx their donations overnight to Giuliani headquarters. The Giuliani campaign raised $207,000 in South Carolina in the second fundraising quarter, and $118,000 in the first quarter.
With CNN present, several Giuliani supporters noted that they were big Anderson Cooper fans as well.
- CNN South Carolina Producer Peter Hamby
COLUMBIA, South Carolina (CNN) - Here's a quick look at what's making news in South Carolina politics this morning:
GOP Chairman Katon Dawson talked presidential politics with CNN on Wednesday. You can watch part of the interview here.
Sen. Barack Obama will be in South Carolina on Sunday. In the midst of his "40 Days of Faith and Family" effort, Obama will speak at two churches. One predominantly white, and one predominantly black.
The Obama campaign now has 30 paid staffers on the ground here, the largest Democratic staff in the state.
The "amnesty" sign mystery continues.
- CNN South Carolina Producer Peter Hamby
Giuliani said "the military option is definitely on the table" with Iran.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani, speaking on a Web cast Wednesday night beamed into homes around the country as part of a national fundraising effort, accused Columbia University of empowering Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and said "the military option is definitely on the table" with Iran.
Giuliani also drew repeated parallels between the Iranian government and Islamic terrorism and made clear he supports regime change in Iran.
"I believe that what the president of Columbia did was a terrible mistake because it feeds Ahmadinejad's irrationality," Giuliani said of the Monday speech. "It feeds his fantasy world. Islamic terrorists live in a fantasy world."
Giuliani said Iran should be "ostracized, not embraced" by the American government. At the same time, he said it should be firm U.S. policy that Iran should not have nuclear weapons.
"It should be a clear, unequivocal, stated purpose of American policy that Iran is not going to become nuclear because they are too dangerous, they're too irresponsible, they're too unpredictable, and they live in a fantasy world, which was increased by Ahmadinejad being applauded at Columbia University."
The Republican presidential hopeful suggested that approximately half of the Columbia crowd applauded Ahmadinejad's appearance on Monday.
"He goes back with a certain amount of reinforcement that those ideas have currency in the United States, and that is very damaging to the whole effort of being able to have regime change in Iran, to have the people of Iran get a sense of how unacceptable he really is," Giuliani said. "So I think we have to make it clear that we're not going to allow them to be a nuclear power. That means the military option is definitely on the table. We cannot appear hesitant about that."
Giuliani was responding to a question from comedian Dennis Miller, who called into the Web cast, which was part of Giuliani's National House Party Night.
- CNN Political Producer Peter Hamby
Gravel had some tough words for credit card companies Wednesday.
(CNN) – Former Alaska Sen. Mike Gravel defended his handling of his personal finances at Wednesday night’s presidential debate in Hanover, New Hampshire, saying that the bright side of a personal bankruptcy he had filed years ago was that credit card companies deserved to get “stuck” with his $90,000 in unpaid debts.
“Donald Trump has been bankrupt a hundred times. So I went bankrupt once in business,” he said. “Who did I bankrupt? I stuck the credit card companies with $90,000 worth of bills, and they deserved it. . . . ”
Gravel also attacked his wealthier Democratic presidential rivals.
“If you want to make a judgment of who can be the greediest people in the world when they get to public office, you can just look at the people up here,” he said, motioning to the other candidates on stage. “Many of them have done very, very well in public office. I left the Senate no better than when I went in.”
Chris Dodd joked some confuse him with CNN's Anderson Cooper.
WASHINGTON (CNN) – Wednesday night’s Democratic presidential debate in New Hampshire is being hosted by MSNBC, but CNN's own Anderson Cooper got a shout-out from one of the candidates.
Joking that he is relatively unknown in the crucial primary state, Connecticut Sen. Chris Dodd said he was approached by someone earlier today who asked, "Anderson Cooper, what's happened to you?"
Both men are well known for their trademark bright gray hair.
- CNN's Alexander Mooney