DEARBORN, Michigan (CNN) - Only two of the nine presidential candidates at today's Republican presidential debate wore flags on their lapels.
Former Tennessee Sen. Fred Thompson and former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani both wore flag pins on their lapels while the remaining seven did not. They were: Sen. John McCain, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, Sen. Sam Brownback, Rep. Duncan Hunter, Rep. Ron Paul, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Hucakbee, and Rep. Tom Tancredo.
Flag lapel pins became a campaign issue for Democratic candidate Barack Obama last week when he acknowledged to an interviewer that while he wore the lapel pins after 9/11, he no longer believes it’s appropriate. Obama told reporters that he has stopped wearing a flag lapel pin because he believes it has been a “substitute for true patriotism.”
– CNN Political Director Sam Feist
Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani chats with his friend Joe Torre, manager of the New York Yankees.
DEARBORN, Michigan (CNN) - Here at the Michigan Republican debate, Giuliani didn’t just take on his fellow Republican candidates, but he also took on New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner. Rudy Giuliani was asked whether Joe Torre, the manager of his beloved Yankees, should keep his job following the Yankees’ playoff elimination by the Cleveland Indians.
Giuliani’s simple answer: “God willing.”
There has been much media speculation about whether Steinbrenner will retain Torre who has been the Yankees’ manager for 12 years. Steinbrenner reportedly said that if the Yankees didn’t advance in the playoffs, Torre’s job was “on the line.”
Giuliani is a longtime Yankee fan.
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– CNN Political Director Sam Feist
The first question of Tuesday's debate was directed at Fred Thompson.
(CNN) – It was just a few seconds that may normally have gone unnoticed, but since Tuesday’s presidential debate in Dearborn, Michigan, marked former Sen. Fred Thompson’s first joint appearance with his GOP White House rivals, all eyes and ears were trained on the Tennessee Republican’s every word . . . and in some cases his pauses.
Thompson was asked in the debate’s lead-off question whether he believed the nation was headed towards a recession.
“I think there is no reason to believe that we’re headed into a recession,” he began his response. “We’re enjoying 22 quarters of successive economic growth that started 2001 then further in 2003 with the tax cuts that we put in place. We’re enjoying low inflation. We’re enjoying low unemployment. Stock market seems to be doing pretty well.”
He continued by saying, “I see no reason to believe we're headed for," and then took what a former television and movie actor might call a dramatic pause that lasted for several seconds before completing his thought with “for an economic downturn."
Thompson concluded his inaugural presidential debate question with his analysis of the nation’s economic future and answered a follow-up question on the causes of consumer angst.
The former senator officially announced his candidacy last month just hours after the last Republican debate ended. He received criticism from his rivals for skipping that event.
–CNN Associate Producer Lauren Kornreich
WASHINGTON (CNN) - The GOP presidential debate wasn’t the only political headline in Michigan Tuesday. While the Republicans faced off against each other in Michigan, five of the Democratic presidential hopefuls announced they were taking their names off the ballot in Michigan, to protest the state’s moving of its primary up to January 15, violating Democratic Party rules.
The family feud between the Democratic White House hopefuls and the Michigan Democratic Party is an illustration of the hole the Democrats could be digging for themselves in Michigan and Florida come the general election. None of the top six Democratic candidates are campaigning in either state, and that could give Republicans an advantage.
Florida plays a crucial role in presidential elections. The Florida recount and the ensuing Supreme Court decision decided the 2000 election. But Michigan shouldn’t be overlooked. It’s an important large state that the Democrats don’t take for granted. Al Gore won the state by only five points in 2000, and John Kerry took the state by only three points in the last election.
– CNN Deputy Political Director Paul Steinahuser
LONDONDERRY, New Hampshire (CNN) – At a picturesque New England setting, perched close to apple orchards and pumpkin patches, Sen. Barack Obama, D-Illinois, was asked by New Hampshire voters which former president he admired the most and why.
“I suppose I’m biased because I’m from Illinois, but there’s a tall skinny guy who the Washington folks didn’t think had much experience, who had served in the state legislature there, and then a couple years in Congress before taking on the presidency who did pretty well. I am a great admirer of [Abraham] Lincoln,” Obama told the group.
While acknowledging Lincoln was “very much a politician,” the presidential hopeful noted, “he is somebody who had the capacity to draw on the best of the American people and to see the good or at least the points of view of the whole country and that didn’t make him paralyzed.”
Obama called Lincoln’s integrity, empathy and honesty rare qualities in today’s leaders.
–CNN New Hampshire Producer Sareena Dalla
DES MOINES, Iowa (CNN) - Sen. Chris Dodd, D-Connecticut, announced Tuesday that state senator Tom Hancock will throw his support behind the Democratic candidate.
In a statement, Hancock, a former president of the Iowa Fireman's Association, said he had not intended to endorse a candidate for the caucuses but decided to support Dodd for his positions on first responders.
"It was Chris Dodd's leadership that ensured that fire fighters across the country would have the resources they need to protect our communities – before the attacks of September 11th made that a priority for others," Hancock said in the statement.
Hancock becomes the second Iowa state legislator to endorse Dodd. State senate president pro-tempore Jeff Danielson was the first.
The campaign also announced Tuesday that it will add 17 new field organizers, bringing their total number of organizers across the state to 60.
–CNN Iowa Producer Chris Welch
WASHINGTON (CNN) - He wouldn't say which presidential candidate he supports by name, but former Mexico President Vicente Fox made clear Monday on CNN's Larry King Live who he hopes will be the next occupant of the White House.
"A lady would be my choice," the man who served as Mexico's president from 2000-2006 said, when asked if he had a favorite in the White House race.
Asked if he was referring to Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton, Fox repeated that he'd prefer a woman in the White House.
"There ain't no other lady running," King noted.
"I think that women show their vision, their capacities, their emotions, their passion, their compassion," Fox continued. "And to me governments and politicians need huge doses of that of religion, of spiritual values, of letting themselves be guided by God and not just polls."
Fox also said former President Bill Clinton is an "inspiration" and said Clinton, along with former President Jimmy Carter, have shown "that there is life after the presidency."
In the wide-ranging interview, Fox also commented on the controversial and at times blunt remarks about President Bush in his new book, "Revolution of Hope."
In the book, which hit stores last week, Fox calls the president "the cockiest guy I have ever met in my life," and is sharply critical of the Bush's Iraq policy and his immigration stance."
"Among friends, you have to be very frank," Fox said of his comments. "And I tried to express very candidly in this book my first impressions in meeting President Bush and other leaders and how the relationship developed."
Fox also said that he meant to praise the president when he called him cocky.
"To me, it's praise, because, you know, that's a key characteristic of a leader and a president," he said. "He must have self- confidence. But also he must be humble and listen to people and try to raise from people what will be his public policies."
WEBSTER CITY, Iowa (CNN) - Her shoelace, that is.
After delivering a speech on retirement accounts Tuesday, Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-New York, was asked by an audience member, "Would you tie your shoes so that you don't trip over them?"
"I might need health care!" Clinton responded laughing. "I bought these moccasins, which I highly recommend to you, at the Fort Dodge [Iowa] museum and gift shop. They are so comfortable, but occasionally I have to stop and tie them... Thank you."
After first asking Clinton her thoughts on the length of the campaign season, the woman raised the shoelace issue as a quick follow-up.
Once the laughter in the audience died down, Clinton responded to the first question.
"Boy, you are singing my song. I'll tell you what, if there were a way to shorten campaigns I would be the first one in line."
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-CNN Iowa Producer Chris Welch
Rob Reiner has a new directing project.
WASHINGTON (CNN) – Hollywood mogul Rob Reiner is taking his directing skills from the lot to the campaign trail.
After announcing his support for Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-New York, Reiner took another step to help her presidential bid by producing a movie for her campaign’s web site. The video, which was released on Tuesday, shows the legendary actor and director coaching Clinton volunteers on how to be more persuasive on the trail.
"No, no, you're not going to convince anyone with that," Reiner said to a female supporter making campaign calls. After grabbing the phone and lecturing her, she improved her performance and was able to get her message out.
Reiner announced in late September that he would officially back Sen. Clinton's presidential bid.
Reiner, the director of numerous box office hits, including "When Harry Met Sally," has been one of Hollywood's most politically active figures. He backed Howard Dean's 2004 presidential bid, but threw his star power behind Sen. John Kerry after he won the Democratic nomination.
Legendary director Steven Spielberg has also announced his support for Clinton.
– CNN Associate Producer Lauren Kornreich
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TIME.com: The Screwups of Campaign '08