Bush said there is no need for higher taxes Friday.
WASHINGTON (CNN) – The economy is "vibrant and strong" - that was President Bush's message to Americans, speaking from the the Oval Office Friday.
But to keep it that way, Bush called on Congress to keep taxes low. "If you want this economy to continue to grow and if you want to reinforce the fact that we've got - entrepreneurship is strong and people are working, don't raise taxes," he said.
In his address, the president also addressed recent press reports concerning the United States' approach to interrogating and detaining terror suspects. The president reiterated that the U.S. does not torture, and that the program is necessary to keep Americans safe. (Related: Bush: 'This government does not torture')
"I have put this program in place for a reason, and that is to better protect the American people. And when we find somebody who may have information regarding a potential attack on America, you bet we're going to detain them, and you bet we're going to question them," he said. "Because the American people expect us to find out information, actionable intelligence, so we can help them - help protect them."
– CNN's KD Fabian
What role do user comments play in the presidential election process?
(CNN) – The popular New Jersey-centric politics Web site, PoliticsNJ.com, examines the role user comments play online. Matt Friedman writes: "In between blowing off steam, some frequent commenters have found that, on occasion, they actually have had some informative discussions, and that what they write here can sometimes impact campaigns and news cycle – whether it’s insider gossip or criticism of a reporter’s story."
While the focus of the story is on New Jersey, it also examines the role comments on national blogs such as The CNN Political Ticker play in the political process.
For more, the full story is here.
Romney is launching a new ad in New Hampshire pledging not to raise taxes.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - A day after Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney sharply criticized rival Rudy Giuliani for seeking to uphold a commuter tax when he was mayor of New York City, the former Massachusetts governor launched a new radio ad in New Hampshire touting his commitment to a no-new-tax pledge.
"For years, conservative candidates for president signed their name on the dotted line, pledging to oppose tax increases," Romney says in the ad that's set to hit airwaves in the crucial primary state Friday. "I'm proud to be the only major candidate for president to sign the tax pledge. The others have not.
"We've got to get taxes down. And grow our economy," Romney adds. "I believe it's not fair that you have to pay taxes when you earn your money, when you save your money and when you die."
The ad follows a day of back-and-forth between the Romney campaign and the Giuliani campaign over the former mayor's support of a commuter tax on visitors to New York City and over Giuliani's opposition in 1997 to the use of a line item veto.
Speaking on behalf of Giuliani in a conference call with reporters Thursday, former Massachusetts Gov. Paul Cellucci said Romney's criticisms were a move of "desperation," and noted Giuliani has said he supports the line item veto as one of his "12 commitments"
And Friday morning, Steve Forbes, national co-chair of Giuliani’s campaign, also defended the former New York City mayor.
"Results speak louder than rhetoric – that's why Rudy Giuliani's record of cutting taxes and slashing government spending makes him the true fiscal conservative in the race," Forbes said in a statement released by Giuliani’s campaign.
– CNN Ticker Producer Alexander Mooney
COLUMBIA, South Carolina (CNN) - Here's a quick look at what's making news in South Carolina politics this morning:
On January 17th, CNN will team up with the Congressional Black Caucus to hold the final Democratic debate before the South Carolina Primary.
Of course, the actual date of that primary remains in question.
Watch CNN's John King explain why Fred Thompson's candidacy may hinge on South Carolina. (Click on "Thompson's southern strategy.")
Illegal immigration: still firing up the grassroots in the Upstate.
Sen. Hillary Clinton will have three surrogates campaigning in South Carolina this weekend: Arkansas Congressman Marion Barry, New York Congresswoman Yvette Clark, and former Clinton adviser Lissa Muscatine.
Barry will attend the South Carolina Rally for Darfur on Saturday.
Saturday will also feature the Kershaw County Democratic Party Bar-B-Q Party and straw poll.
Sen. Barack Obama will also visit South Carolina this weekend, holding a town hall in Aiken and a rally in Rock Hill, both on Saturday. He will also attend church in Greenville on Sunday at Redemption World Outreach Center, where he will speak to the congregation. It's Obama's ninth visit to South Carolina.
– CNN South Carolina Producer Peter Hamby
Who will win the coveted support of the former head of New Hampshire's Democratic Party?
MANCHESTER, New Hampshire (CNN) - Kathy Sullivan is a big fish who swims in a small but very important pond, and she is ready to be landed.
The former head of the New Hampshire Democratic Party is a “prize political catch” well known for her grassroots approach to campaigning and willingness to get her hands dirty. Up until now, no presidential candidate has been able to win her backing. That is about to change.
Sullivan told me she is getting ready to get back in the game and is committed to helping her candidate win the Democratic presidential nomination.
“I am thinking, because we are getting into October, the election is three months away,” she said last week during a meeting at her law office. “So, if I want to have any fun in terms of getting involved in the campaign, I better hurry up.”
The timeframe? “Probably the next couple of weeks,” she said.
A gay Republican group is questioning Romney's conservative credentials.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney is facing fire from a gay Republican group, which announced Thursday it will launch a television ad in Iowa questioning the presidential hopeful’s social conservative credentials.
The 30-second ad from the Log Cabin Republicans is comprised of clips from a 1994 Senate debate, in which Romney said that abortion "should be safe and legal in this country." Romney was challenging Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Massachusetts, that year.
The ad's narrator goes on to state, "for year's he's fought conservatives and religions extremists."
In a statement announcing the ad, Log Cabin President Patrick Sammon said he wants members of his own party to know "the truth about Romney."
"As much as Gov. Romney wants to re-invent himself, his record speaks of itself," Sammon said. "The Mitt Romney of today is different from the Mitt Romney who was elected Massachusetts governor and ran for the U.S. Senate."
Kevin Madden, a Romney campaign spokesman, dismissed the criticism noting, "Gov. Romney supports a federal marriage amendment and so it makes sense that a national gay rights group would attack him."
"The advertisement misrepresents Governor Romney’s courage to admit that he had been wrong on this issue and the fact that he is proud of his strong record of defending the sanctity of life," Madden added.
Watch John Edwards in the Situation Room Thursday.
WASHINGTON (CNN) – Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards, D-North Carolina, spoke with CNN's Wolf Blitzer on Thursday. The former senator discussed his chief rivals for the Democratic presidential nomination - Sens. Hillary Clinton, D-New York, and Barack Obama, D-Illinois. Edwards also discussed the Iraq war and and U.S. policy towards Iran.
Rep. Ron Paul spoke with Wolf Blitzer on Thursday.
WASHINGTON (CNN) – Watch Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, discuss his fundraising, poll position, policies, and his rivals for the White House in 2008.
Making News Today…
Craig says he's staying in Senate after judge upholds guilty plea
WASHINGTON (CNN) – Idaho Sen. Larry Craig said Thursday he will remain in the Senate and study "additional legal options" after a judge refused to throw out his August guilty plea stemming from a sex sting in a Minneapolis airport restroom.
Craig's lawyer, Billy Martin, said the three-term Republican has not yet decided whether to appeal Thursday's ruling by Hennepin County District Judge Charles Porter. And in a statement from his office, Craig said he was "extremely disappointed" in the decision.
"I am innocent of the charges against me. I continue to work with my legal team to explore my additional legal options," he said.
Under heavy pressure from Republican colleagues, he announced he would resign at the end of September. But he postponed that move while seeking to have his guilty plea withdrawn, and said his experience in recent weeks has shown he can remain effective as a senator.
A big New Hampshire fish about to be caught
MANCHESTER, New Hampshire (CNN) — Kathy Sullivan is a big fish who swims in a small but very important pond, and she is ready to be landed.
The timeframe? “Probably the next couple of weeks,” she said. Full Story
An “Old Bull” announces retirement
(CNN) - Surrounded by cheering family members, staff and supporters, Republican Sen. Pete Domenici of New Mexico announced Thursday that he won't seek re-election next year because he suffers from a progressive, incurable brain condition that might prevent him from completing another six-year term.
"I had to consider whether I could, in good conscience, run for re-election and serve you as well as you deserve," said Domenici, 75, who made the announcement in the gym of an Albuquerque grammar school he attended as a boy. "I concluded it would be wrong to ask New Mexicans to support me if I could not pledge that I could ably serve another full term."
Domenici, first elected to the Senate in 1972 and re-elected five times, said he has been suffering for the last two years from frontotemporal lobar degeneration, or FTLD, a deterioration of brain tissue that can lead to personality changes, difficulty with speech and dementia.
While the condition has had "very little impact" on him, Domenici said a check-up in September showed a "slight" progression of the condition. He said the "erratic, unpredictable" nature of the illness prompted his decision to retire.
However, the senator said he is still well enough to do his job and has "no doubts" he can finish out the rest of his current term, which ends in January 2009.
Richardson has no interest in Senate seat
WASHINGTON (CNN) – New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson has no interest in seeking the seat of retiring Republican Sen. Pete Domenici, a senior political adviser to the governor tells CNN.
“Gov. Richardson is running for the White House unequivocally, and we are going to be the Democratic nominee,” the adviser said. Full Story
– CNN Political Editor Mark Preston
GOP candidates fight pork
WASHINGTON (CNN) - As frustration grows over what is perceived as a bloated federal budget, many of the Republican White House hopefuls attend a conference Friday to discuss how they would curb spending if elected president.
The Americans for Prosperity Foundation is holding a two-day "Defending the American Dream Summit," which will focus primarily on trying to prevent lawmakers from adding personal items to bills such as the now infamous “bridge to nowhere” in Alaska. The group said it expects 1,000 people from across the country to come to the nation's capital to try to end this practice.
Today, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, former Tennessee Sen. Fred Thompson, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, Kansas Sen. Sam Brownback, and Texas Rep. Ron Paul, plan to address the conference. Arizona Sen. John McCain spoke to the group last night.
– CNN Associate Producer Lauren Kornreich
Political Hot Topics
(Today's top political stories from news organizations across the country)
Compiled by Lindsey Pope
CNN Washington Bureau
IOWA AND NEW HAMPSHIRE DELEGATES AGAINST PRIMARY LEGISLATION: Members of the Iowa and New Hampshire congressional delegations sent a letter Thursday to House leaders saying that Congress would be "overstepping its boundaries" if legislation establishing a presidential primary system were approved. USA Today: Iowa, NH Oppose Primary Legislation
MAGAZINE CHALLENGEDS IOWA CAUSUS STANDING: An article in the new issue of "The American Prospect" magazine says Iowa doesn't deserve its prominent role in nominating presidential candidates. WCF Courier: Caucus Digest: Iowa Doesn't Deserve Caucus Role, Media Critic Says
REPUBLICAN CANDIDATES FOR THE WHITE HOUSE IN STEP WITH BUSH OVER SCHIP VETO: The four leading Republican presidential candidates have aligned themselves with President Bush’s veto on Wednesday of an expanded health insurance program for children, once again testing the political risk of appearing in lock step with a president who has low approval ratings and some critics of the veto within their party. New York Times: G.O.P. Contenders Endorse Health Insurance Veto
REID TO BUSH: “WE’RE NOT GOING TO COMPROMISE": Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) closed the door to negotiations with President Bush on a vetoed children’s health bill Thursday, saying Congress already has given as much ground as it can. Roll Call: Reid: No More Negotiations on SCHIP
RUDY UNPLUGGED: So what should a mayor do? Just let constituents call his weekly radio program on WABC — the one called “Live From City Hall ... With Rudy Giuliani” — and whine and complain and get in his face without answering back? New York Times: Giuliani Pulled No Punches on the Radio
UP COMING VOTERS QUIZ RUDY: High school senior Kamal Mahmood and his classmates got a real-life government class Thursday from Republican presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani at a town hall meeting. Quad City Times: Giuliani Holds Town Hall, Fundraiser in Illinois
CHRISTIAN RIGHT ONLY OUT TO HURT GOP IF RUDY GETS NOMINATION: Religious conservative leaders say they don't expect to win if they carry through with preparations to run their own presidential candidate next year. Washington Times: Religious Right Aims to "Hurt" GOP
ROMNEY REACHES OUT TO EVANGELICALS: Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney has stepped up his efforts to woo evangelicals in response to the threat by some Christian conservative leaders to back a third-party candidate. Boston Globe: Romney Increases Overtures to Disenchanted Evangelicals
GIULIANI 9/11 RESPONSE IN THE CROSSHAIRS OF NEW CLINTON AD: As new polls put Rudy Giuliani and Hillary Clinton on a White House collision course, the former First Lady yesterday unveiled an ad that forecasts future attacks on the ex-mayor's handling of 9/11. NY daily News: Hillary Ad Hints at Rudy's 9/11 Weak Spot
VOTERS GET EMOTIONAL WITH RUDY: Boosted by his handling of 9/11, Rudy Giuliani enjoys the most "emotional" support on the presidential campaign trail, according to an unusual new study released yesterday. NY Post: Rudy Stirs Up Most Passion Among Voters
THE '08 GOD-O-METER: Wondering how often the presidential candidates invoke faith issues on the stump? Now, you can consult an online "God-o-meter" that measures and rates candidates based on their use of religion on the campaign trail. Des Moines Register: Iowa Ear: God-o-Meter Ranks Candidates on Faith
"WITHOUT HIS PERSONAL FUNDS, HE WOULD BE BROKE TODAY": Presidential contender Mitt Romney has retained his fundraising edge over his Republican rivals, despite a slightly larger haul by Rudy Giuliani in the past three months, figures released Thursday show. USA Today: Romney's Cash Lead Fueled by Own Fortune
THOMPSON SKIRTS HOT BUTTON ISSUES: He won't talk about religion. He only goes to church when he's visiting his mom. He lobbied for an abortion-rights group. On the campaign trail, he shrugs off questions about conservative hot-button topics like the death penalty and Terri Schiavo. The Tennessean: Conservatives Gamble, Take Fred Thompson
OBAMA: NO SURPRISES FOR SOLDIERS: American soldiers should not encounter unexpected war extensions, Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama told a crowd of about 450 people here today. Des Moines Register: Obama: Give Troops Respect, Not Surprises
OBAMA TO OPEN UP HIS WALLET IN IOWA: Barack Obama's hopes for the Democratic nomination hinge on getting hundreds of thousands of new voters fired up enough to actually turn out – and on spending a good chunk of his $80 million. AP via NY Post: Obama Hope to Surprise Clinton in Iowa
DEAN DONORS FAVOR OBAMA: Donors who made Howard Dean the Democratic presidential front-runner ahead of the 2004 Iowa caucuses have flocked to Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.), helping him raise more money than any other White House candidate this year, according to a review of fundraising records. The Hill: Deaniacs Open Their Wallets for '08 Hopefuls
HILLARY LEADING LADY FOR HOLLYWOOD ENDORSEMENTS: IF there's such a thing as the Hollywood Presidential Primary, then Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton is the clear favorite in the back-lot polls. LA Times: Cause Celebre: Hollywood Shifts Toward Clinton
HILLARY NOT ONLY THE TARGET OF '08 RIVALS, BUT ALSO THE MEDIA: Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton has been criticized this past week for her evasiveness, dodginess, weasel words and shady connections — not only by her conservative critics but by liberal columnists and reporters. Washington Times: Liberals Slam Hillary Over Dodge Tactics
HILLARY'S $5,000 BOND QUESTIONED BY GIULIANI: Former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani assailed Democratic Sen. Hillary Clinton on Thursday for considering a plan that would give a $5,000 bond to the nation's newborns and suggested it could exacerbate immigration problems. Chicago Tribune: Giuliani, Clinton Trade Barbs
BILL TO RESTORE AMERICAN REPUTATION IF HILLARY ELECTED: If Hillary Clinton wins the US presidency, Bill Clinton will be given the job of repairing America's damaged international reputation, the former president tells the Guardian in an interview today. The Guardian: Bill Clinton: Hillary Wants Me to Restore Image of US
CLINTON SAYS HER GOP SUPPORT IS ON THE RISE: The New York senator said at a campaign stop at a Chicago steakhouse that she thinks her GOP support is growing around the country. AP via Quad City Times: Clinton Visits Illinois During Campaign Stop
IN INTERVIEW ELIZABETH EDWARDS QUESTIONS LIMBAUGH'S MILITARY SERVICE EXEMPTION: An Air America producer just sent over some transcript from an interview… conducted with Elizabeth Edwards, in which she questioned Rush Limbaugh's Vietnam exemption. Politico: Elizabeth Questions Limbaugh's Draft Deferment
LITTLE KNOWN GOP CANDIDATE IN COURT FOR DISORDERLY CONDUCT: Republican presidential candidate Robert Haines was more than two hours late yesterday for his arraignment in Manchester District Court on a disorderly conduct charge. New Hampshire Union-Leader: Candidates Arraignment Becomes Campaign Stop
REP WILSON EYES DOMENICI SEAT: Rep. Heather Wilson (R) will run for the New Mexico Senate seat that opened up Thursday when Sen. Pete Domenici (R) declared that he will not seek reelection in 2008, according to a source familiar with Wilson’s decision. The Hill: Wilson to Seek Senate Seat
“I FIND IT UNFATHOMABLE THAT THE COMMITTEE TASKED WITH OVERSIGHT OF THE C.I.A.’S DETENTION AND INTERROGATION PROGRAM WOULD BE PROVIDED MORE INFORMATION BY THE NEW YORK TIMES THAN BY THE DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE”: The disclosure of secret Justice Department legal opinions on interrogation on Thursday set off a bitter round of debate over the treatment of terrorism suspects in American custody and whether Congress has been adequately informed of legal policies. New York Times: Debate Erupts on Techniques Used by C.I.A.
CLINTON MAKES PLEDGE TO LIBERAL GROUP AGAINST TORTURE: As senior Democrats vowed Thursday to obtain secret legal opinions that the Justice Department allegedly issued to sidestep limits on harsh interrogations, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (N.Y.) became the last Democratic candidate to endorse a liberal group’s pledge against torture. The Hill: Clinton Last Dem to Back Torture Pledge
CRAIG VOWS TO STAY, BUT MEETS CHALLENGE FROM ENSIGN: National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman John Ensign (Nev.) on Thursday called for Sen. Larry Craig (R-Idaho) to honor his original resignation speech and his personal commitment to Republicans that he would resign if the judge did not vitiate his guilty plea. Roll Call: Ensign Calls on Craig to Resign
VIRGINIA DEMOCRATS HEATED ABOUT BUSH SCHIP VETO: Looking for ammo for legislative elections, Gov. Timothy M. Kaine and state Democrats are ganging up on President Bush for vetoing a health-care bill for children. Richmond Times-Dispatch: Democrats Knock Bush Veto
A NEW CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION?: Not content with calling for a new constitutional convention to update our 220-year-old charter, Virginia professor Larry Sabato is holding a convention of his own this month. DC Examiner's Yeas and Nays: Alito, Dole, Ferraro to Help Rewrite Constitution ===============================================================
On the Political Radar:
Compiled by Lauren Kornreich
CNN Washington Bureau
* Republican presidential candidates Rudy Giuliani of New York, Mike Huckabee of Arkansas, Fred Thompson of Tennessee, Sam Brownback of Kansas, Ron Paul of Texas and Mitt Romney of Massachusetts address the Americans for Prosperity Foundation's "Defending the American Dream Summit" where they'll talk about fiscal restraint and limiting pork barrel spending in Washington, D.C.
* Former Sen. John Edwards, D-North Carolina, campaigns in Iowa with town hall meetings in Cresco, Waukon and Elkader. In the evening, he attends a fundraiser at Upper Iowa University in Fayette.
* Sen. Barack Obama, D-Illinois, continues to campaign around Iowa with meet and greets in New Hampton and Charles City. The Democratic presidential hopeful holds a town hall meeting in Mason City.
* Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona raises money and talks to the media in his home state.
* New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson heads south to Atlanta, Georgia to meet with the Southern Congressional Black Caucus and the Georgia chapters of Mi Familia. After that, he meets with local residents at the Varsity and delivers a speech at the Georgia Association of Democratic County Chairs Reception.
* Sen. Joe Biden, D-Delaware, attends a breakfast in Fort Madison, Iowa and drinks coffee at Cups 'n Cakes in Keosauqua. Later, he holds a town hall meeting with Henry County Democrats at Iowa Wesleyan College in Mount Pleasant.
* Rep. Tom Tancredo, R-Colorado, holds a press conference in Des Moines to call for the removal of Judge Hanson, who tried to overturn Iowa's state ban on gay marriage.
* The Senate Radio-Television Correspondents' Gallery Daybook
The House Radio-Television Correspondents' Gallery Daybook