WASHINGTON (CNN) - Sen. Hillary Clinton, D- New York, was endorsed Wednesday by the American Federation of Teachers, a union that represents 1.4 million educators, healthcare professionals and government employees nationwide.
“Our members have told us that they want a leader they can trust to strengthen public education, increase access to healthcare, promote commonsense economic priorities and secure America’s place in the world,” said AFT President Edward McElroy said in a statement released by the union. “Hillary Clinton is that leader.”
The union said seven Democratic candidates sought the union’s backing.
"This means a lot to me personally, but also of course politically," Clinton said at the news conference announcing the endorsement.
The AFT said it will urge its members to try and help elect Clinton.
– CNN Assignment Editor Katy Byron
Watch McCain on board the CNN Election Express Wednesday.
CAMDEN, South Carolina (CNN) – Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, told CNN Wednesday he agrees with President Bush's veto of legislation expanding a children's health insurance program, saying the bill provided a "phony smoke and mirrors way of paying for it."
"Right call by the president," the Republican White House hopeful told CNN's John King. "We've laid a debt on these same children ... that we're saying we're going to give health insurance to."
The bill, which would cost $35 billion over five years, is meant to expand the State Children's Health Insurance Program to provide coverage to an additional 10 million children.
– CNN Ticker Producer Alexander Mooney
Ron Paul raked in an impressive fundraising total.
WASHINGTON (CNN) – He's locked in low single digits in most polls, but Texas Rep. Ron Paul raised more than $5 million for his presidential bid in the third quarter, roughly equal to or just short of several of his higher -profile rivals.
"Dr. Paul's message is freedom, peace and prosperity," Paul campaign chairman Kent Snyder said in a statement announcing the total. "As these fundraising numbers show, more Americans each day are embracing Dr. Paul's message."
Paul's fundraising total is a 114-percent increase over what he raised last quarter and is also only $2 million shy of what Democratic White House hopeful John Edwards raised during the same period. It is also roughly equal to the fundraising totals of Arizona Sen. John McCain and New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson.
On Wednesday, Sen. Hillary Clinton addressed recent media scrutiny of her laughter.
WASHINGTON (CNN) – Democratic presidential frontrunner Hillary Clinton used the occasion of Wednesday’s endorsement announcement from the American Federation of Teachers to take a light-hearted crack at the New York Times over what the paper has dubbed "The Clinton Cackle."
"I don't want to go on too much longer, because it might cause me to laugh, and then you know, heaven knows what we'd hear about for the next week," she said at the conclusion of her acceptance speech to the laughter of both the AFT members and media present.
Earlier this week, the Times published a 962-word piece analyzing the New York senator’s use of laughter during interviews and debates. The article suggested different motivations for different uses of “The Cackle,” which the paper said was a term coined by Clinton’s friends.
"You gotta have a sense of humor in this business we're in," she concluded.
Sen. John Warner, R-Virginia.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Sen. John Warner of Virginia successfully underwent a non-surgical procedure Wednesday to maintain proper heart rate and rhythm, his office said.
"Senator Warner called his office this morning around 11:30 a.m. to say he is doing very well," his office said in a written statement. "He advised his staff that he passed this morning's procedure 'with flying colors' and that 'no one is to go home early, as we all have work to do.'"
In non-surgical ablation, a catheter is snaked from an artery in the groin into the heart. Then, a machine directs laser or microwave energy into the heart muscle producing the abnormal rhythm, causing it to scar and disrupting the abnormal rhythm's electrical pathway.
Several fires have been set in the Dirksen Senate Office building.
WASHINGTON (CNN) – Authorities are investigating a series of small fires set in women's restrooms in Senate office buildings in recent days, according to the Capitol Police.
Four such fires were set Wednesday in the Senate's Dirksen and Hart office buildings, police said.
Three fires took place in the morning in separate restrooms and were extinguished by police. The D.C. Fire Department was called to the scene of the fourth fire, in the Dirksen building, Wednesday afternoon. That fire generated a lot of smoke, police said.
Sgt. Kimberly Schneider said there were no injuries and no evacuations.
Police are searching for suspects but have no hard leads, she said. "It's a work in progress."
Police added additional patrols in the office buildings and asked staff members to report any "unusual activity or behaviors that may be associated with these fires."
Authorities said they did not believe the fires intended to harm anyone.
"This would appear designed to be more of a nuisance than to endanger anyone," said Capitol Police Chief Phillip Morse.
Limbaugh set off a firestorm last week with his "phony soldiers" comment.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - The company that syndicates Rush Limbaugh's popular radio program defended the conservative talk-show host Wednesday over his controversial "phony soldiers" remark, telling the Senate's top Democrat it is "unfair" to assume his comments were directed at combat soldiers who disagree with the Iraq war.
In a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Mark Mays, the CEO of Clear Channel Communications, wrote, "Over the years Mr. Limbaugh has repeatedly praised the dedication and valor of our brave men and women in uniform.
"Given Mr. Limbaugh's history of support for our soldiers, it would be unfair for me to assume his statements were intended to personally indict combat soldiers simply because they didn't share his own beliefs regarding the war in Iraq," he added.
Mays' letter was a response to a letter sent by Reid Tuesday, and signed by 41 Senate Democrats, calling on Clear Channel to publicly repudiate the comments. Sens. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, the leading candidates for the Democratic presidential nomination, were among the senators that signed the letter.
Limbaugh's comments in question came last Wednesday when Limbaugh and a caller were discussing critics of the Iraq war:
"What's really funny is, they [Iraq war critics] never talk to real soldiers," the caller said. "They like to pull these soldiers that come up out of the blue and talk to the media."
"The phony soldiers," Limbaugh then said.
Clinton won a big endorsement Wednesday.
WASHINGTON (CNN) – Sen. Hillary Clinton, D- New York, will receive the endorsement of American Federation of Teachers on Wednesday.
Clinton has also received labor endorsements from the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, the United Transportation Union, and the International Union of Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers among others.
– CNN Senior Political Correspondent Candy Crowley
Kids pull wagons full of petitions this week asking President Bush not to veto insurance legislation.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - President Bush on Wednesday vetoed legislation expanding a children's health insurance program by $35 billion over five years.
Bush quietly exercised the veto at 10 a.m. before leaving the White House for a trip to Lancaster, Pennsylvania, to discuss the federal budget and taxes.
Congress sent the legislation expanding the State Children's Health Insurance Program, or SCHIP, to the White House on Tuesday.
Sen. John Warner was hospitalized Tuesday.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Influential Republican Sen. John Warner of Virginia was hospitalized Tuesday with a heart condition, according to a statement from the senator's office.
Doctors at Inova Fairfax Hospital performed a procedure to correct atrial fibrillation, the statement said, and a follow-up, routine procedure is scheduled for Wednesday.
"His doctors fully anticipate that Senator Warner will be home this weekend and back to work next week," the statement said.
The statement said Warner, 80, "handled planned appointments" at his office Tuesday morning, checking in with the Capitol Physician's Office mid-morning. He returned to his office for more meetings after that, and left in the afternoon for an appointment at the hospital.
Atrial fibrillation is a heart rhythm disorder that usually involves a rapid heart rate.
Warner said last month he would not seek re-election in 2008.