Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, takes questions Wednesday at a hospital in Iowa.
GRINNELL, Iowa (CNN) - Before delving into a preview of the healthcare speech he'll deliver Thursday, presidential candidate John McCain lightened the mood in a roomful of medical personnel by offering to show them his X-rays.
In a stop at a medical center the Republican senator from Arizona explained he "had broken bones when [he] was shot down and captured" during the Vietnam War, "and they healed by themselves." He said those images are often published in orthopedic journals.
"So it's kind of an oddity. I'll be glad to show anybody my X-rays," McCain
said laughing. "They're not that exciting, but doctors are kind of dull anyways, you know?"
McCain then joked, "There goes the doctor vote right there."
The White House hopeful will outline his healthcare proposal Thursday in Des Moines.
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– CNN Iowa Producer Chris Welch
The Senate will begin Mukasey's confirmation hearing next week.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Senate confirmation hearings for attorney general nominee Michael Mukasey will begin next Wednesday, Oct. 17, Sen. Patrick Leahy, Chairman of the Judiciary Committee, announced Wednesday.
President Bush nominated Judge Mukasey to replace Alberto Gonzales last month. Gonzales was criticized for the controversial firing of eight U.S. attorneys. He resigned in August.
- CNN Assignment Editor Katy Byron
Johanns has set his sights on Sen. Hagel's Senate seat.
(CNN) - Former Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns officially announced his expected candidacy for the U.S. Senate seat in Nebraska that Republican maverick Chuck Hagel is giving up in 2008.
"It's time to restore the people's trust in a government that, in my judgment, has strayed too far from conservative values - in principles that we hold dear," said Johanns, who resigned his Cabinet post in September.
Before joining the Bush administration in 2005, Johanns served as Nebraska's governor and as mayor of Lincoln, the state capital. He said he would put his "proven record" to work in Washington if elected to replace Hagel, one of several retiring GOP incumbents.
"As mayor, I prioritized law enforcement and held the line on property taxes," he said. "I served as governor during some of the most difficult fiscal times in our state's history, and during the attacks of 9/11. And as secretary of agriculture, I was responsible for the safety nets for all of America's farmers."
Hagel's decision to step down has provided an opening for Democrats, with former senator and governor Bob Kerrey considering a Senate comeback. Despite the state's generally strong Republican leanings, Democrats have won nine out of the last 11 Senate elections in the Cornhusker State.
But Johanns, who won 69 percent of the vote when re-elected governor in 2002, is considered a strong contender to keep the seat in GOP hands. He will face a primary battle against a field that includes state Attorney General Jon Bruning and Hal Daub, a former congressman and mayor of Omaha.
- CNN Political Writer Matt Smith
The two fierce rivals for the 2008 Republican presidential nomination do not disagree on everything.
(CNN) – An increasingly bitter fight between Republican presidential candidates Rudy Giuliani and Mitt Romney moved Wednesday from taxes to national security, with both campaigns portraying the other as indecisive.
The latest skirmish between their campaigns is playing out by e-mail. The Giuliani camp is attacking Romney for an answer he gave he gave during Tuesday‘s CNBC/Wall Street Journal GOP debate on whether Congressional authorization would be needed for military action against Iran.
Romney said, “You sit down with your attorneys and tell you what you have to do, but obviously the president of the United States has to do what's in the best interest of the United States to protect us against a potential threat.”
The Giuliani campaign called it a “lawyers test for national security.” And the Giuliani campaign’s news release this morning said, “Sound familiar? Another Massachusetts politician also wanted a national security test”, comparing to 2004 Democratic nominee John Kerry’s “global test” comment. The global test became a favorite GOP attack line, portraying Kerry as weak on national security.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Former President Jimmy Carter said Wednesday he is convinced the United States engages in torture that clearly breaches international law and told CNN President Bush creates his own definition of human rights to escape violating them.
"I don't think it. I know it, certainly." the former president told CNN's Wolf Blitzer when asked if he thinks the United States commits torture.
"Our country for the first time in my lifetime has abandoned the basic principle of human rights," Carter continued. "We've said that the Geneva Convention does not apply to those people in Abu Ghraib prison and Guantanamo, and we’ve said we can torture prisoners and deprive them of an accusation of a crime to which they are accused."
Carter's comments come on the heels of a New York Times report that disclosed the existence of secret Justice Department documents supporting the use of "harsh interrogation techniques" including, according to the Times, "head-slapping, simulated drowning, and frigid temperatures."
Last week, the White House confirmed the existence of the documents though would not make them public. Responding to the report last Friday, Bush defended the techniques used and said, “This government does not torture people.”
Asked about the president's comments, Carter said, "That's not an accurate statement if you use the international norms of torture as has always been honored - certainly in the last 60 years since the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was promulgated."
"But you can make your own definition of human rights and say we don't violate them, and you can make your own definition of torture and say we don't violate them," Carter added.
Responding to Carter's comments, a senior White House official said, "Our position is clear. We don't torture. It's just sad to hear a former president speak like that."
Watch the full interview with Carter tonight on The Situation Room, 7 p.m. ET.
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- CNN Ticker Producer Alexander Mooney
Edwards had strong words for Sen. Hillary Clinton's stance on Iraq and Iran.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Five years after Congress voted to give President Bush the authority to use force against Iraq, former Sen. John Edwards, D-North Carolina, slammed presidential rival Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-New York, for her Iraq policy and charged that she would not stand in the way of a war against Iran.
Clinton recently voted in favor of a bill declaring Iran's Revolutionary Guard a terrorist organization, which Edwards said is another step "that takes this nation one step closer to war."
"Evidently, Senator Clinton and I learned two very different lessons from the Iraq war," Edwards said in a statement Wednesday. "I learned that if you give President Bush even an inch of authority, he will use it to sanction a war."
Edwards has repeatedly attacked Clinton for refusing to apologize for her initial vote authorizing the war. In her speech on the Senate floor five years ago, she said she approved of sending troops to Iraq to disarm Saddam Hussein and to prevent future terrorist attacks against America.
"It is with conviction that I support this resolution as being in the best interests of our nation," Clinton said in 2002. "A vote for it is not a vote to rush to war; it is a vote that puts awesome responsibility in the hands of our President and we say to him – use these powers wisely and as a last resort. And it is a vote that says clearly to Saddam Hussein – this is your last chance – disarm or be disarmed."
The Clinton campaign had no comment.
- CNN Associate Producer Lauren Kornreich
Kansas Sen. Sam Brownback said he needs to finish at least fourth in Iowa.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Sen. Sam Brownback, R-Kansas, said in an on-line discussion Wednesday he would drop out of the race for the White House if he did not finish in the top four in Iowa.
In the question and answer session on The Washington Post, a person asked the Kansas Republican, "Is it true that you will drop out of the race if you don't finish in the top 4 in Iowa?"
"That is correct,” Brownback responded. “I need to finish in that group to move on forward."
–CNN Assignment Editor Katy Byron
MERRIMACK, New Hampshire (CNN) - At a leading technology company outside of
Manchester, Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-New York, called for America to restore its position as an innovation leader or risk losing its place in the global economy.
"Americans have been inspired by ideas, and our prosperity has been empowered by them," Clinton said. "But in the last six and a half years we are slowly giving up our advantage. We have seen our investment in research and development stay static. China has doubled the share of its national wealth invested in research and development even as the size of its economy has doubled as well."
Appearing before a group of employees at GT Solar, Clinton outlined her innovation agenda which includes a commitment to broadband expansion, investment in alternative forms of energy and increases in funding for research and development.
On Thursday, Clinton takes her presidential campaign to Plymouth State University where she will discuss her plan to make college more affordable.
- CNN New Hampshire Producer Sareena Dalla
WASHINGTON (CNN) - A new set of state polls out Wednesday shows Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-New York, leading her Democratic rivals for the presidential nomination and edging out potential Republican opponents in a general election match-up.
Quinnipiac University polls in Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania mirror trends seen recently in national polls. Clinton edges out former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani in general election match-ups in those states, with a slightly increased advantage since a round of polls last month. Clinton leads Giuliani in Florida 46 percent – 43 percent - the two were tied in September. The New York senator tops the former New York City mayor by six points in Ohio and Pennsylvania. The polls' margin of error is just over 3 percent.
The state surveys also indicate Clinton would handily win the Democratic primaries in those states if the contests were held today. How influential these states turn out to be in the race for the Democratic nomination remains in question. Florida will hold its primary on January 29th, a decision that has caused incredible consternation for national Democrats since Sunshine State Democrats are violating party rules by holding their contest prior to February 5th.
All Democratic candidates have pledged not to actively campaign there and whether Florida Democrats will actually be able to seat delegates at next year's party convention remains in question. Ohio holds its primary on February 5th and Pennsylvania Democrats won't vote until April.
- CNN Senior Political Producer Sasha Johnson
Mrs. Obama was on her way to a campaign event when the accident happened.
(CNN) - Michelle Obama, the wife of Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama, escaped injury Tuesday when her campaign van was involved in an accident in Hampton, Iowa. A motorcyclist who struck the van was injured.
The accident happened as she was en route to a campaign stop. A motorcycle collided with the van on U.S. Highway 65 in the central part of the state.
The Obama campaign said in a statement, "The motorcyclist was transported to a nearby hospital, and Barack and Michelle's thoughts and prayers are with him and his family at this time. Neither Mrs. Obama nor any members of the campaign staff were injured in the accident."
Police identified the motorcyclist as Timothy Scott Emerson, 41, of Iowa Falls, Iowa. He was taken by medical helicopter to Mercy Medical North Hospital, where a nursing supervisor said he was treated and released.
A report from the Hampton Police Department said the van carrying Michelle Obama was trying to make a left turn when it was struck. The motorcycle, which was three vehicles behind the campaign van, attempted to pass and struck the left side of the van, the report said, while traveling on the wrong side of the road.
The campaign event she was headed to was canceled.
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- CNN's Steve Brusk, Devon Sayers and Chris Welch contributed to this report