McCain and Huckabee joke with each other Thursday night at a press conference in Iowa.
SIOUX CITY, Iowa (CNN) – One thing seemed clear Thursday night at the AARP-sponsored 'Divided We Fail' candidate forum–Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee like each other.
Numerous compliments were sent back and forth during their hour and a half together on stage, and the phrase "I respect him" was tossed around more than a few times.
Huckabee praised McCain's ability to focus on the issues in the Senate and avoid the name-calling that often prevails.
"I have great respect for him," Huckabee said. "All kidding aside, I know we're competitors in the presidential race, but he has been willing to rise above that kind of nonsense time and time again...to try to really bring solutions to the problems."
Watch Ed Henry's report from fire-ravaged Southern California.
SAN DIEGO, California (CNN) - White House Correspondent Ed Henry traveled with President Bush to Southern California on Thursday. Henry reports on how the President's response to the wildfires continues to contrast with his response to Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
Related: In response to wildfires, Bush trying to avoid another Katrina
Click here to see CNN's new political portal: CNNPolitics.com
Watch Valerie Plame Wilson discuss her new book with Wolf Blitzer.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Valerie Plame Wilson, the woman at the center of the CIA leak investigation, was in the Situation Room Thursday. Watch her talk with CNN's Wolf Blitzer about her husband, her new book, the Bush administration, and her work as a CIA operative.
Watch Romney's comments on family values Wednesday.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney criticized the "family values" of the Clinton presidency Thursday, saying as president he would set a better example.
"One of the ways that you help instill, if you will, family values is by having a White House be a place that demonstrates family values," the Massachusetts Republican said in a response to a question at a New Hampshire house party about how he would instill family values as president.
"And, you know, I think during the last Clinton presidency, the White House did not demonstrate that in a way that was helpful to our nation's culture," Romney added.
New York Sen. Hillary Clinton, wife of former President Bill Clinton, is the frontrunner for the Democratic presidential nomination.
Romney went on to say that the president is under a "microscope," making it especially important to "live by higher standards."
"Because the world is looking at you, you're representing not only yourself but your country," he added. "The kids or America are looking at you. One piece [of instilling values] is acting the part, acting the part of higher ethical standards."
Responding to Romney's comments, top Clinton adviser Howard Wolfson said, "Hillary Clinton needs no lessons on character from a man who switches his positions on a daily basis."
– CNN Ticker Producer Alexander Mooney
Watch Thompson's comments Wednesday.
BLUFFTON, South Carolina (CNN) - At a campaign stop in South Carolina Wednesday, Fred Thompson said that the Iraqi insurgency is made up of "a bunch of kids with improvised explosive devices," and suggested that the appearance of losing to such an enemy would harm U.S. national security.
Thompson was confronted about Iraq by a Bluffton resident named Bernhard Steinhouse, who asked Thompson whether he would bring back U.S. forces from the country.
"We will not be a safer country, we will not be a safer America if the whole world watches us being defeated by a bunch of kids with improvised explosive devices," Thompson said.
Roadside bombs are one of the leading causes of U.S. casualties in Iraq.
Thompson's comments drew criticism from Joe Biden, the Democratic presidential candidate and senator from Delaware who has made funding mine-resistant combat vehicles a signature of his Senate efforts over the last year.
"If Sen. Thompson believes that we are fighting 'a bunch of kids,' he is totally divorced from reality," Biden said in a statement Thursday. "He should come back to Iraq with me and talk to our soldiers who are in the middle of a civil war between lethal militias or fighting the Bush-fulfilling prophecy of al Qaeda in Iraq or being blown up by IEDs."
Thompson did not say under what circumstances troops would be able to leave Iraq. He said that as of now, U.S. forces are succeeding in securing the country, a shared sentiment among all of the Republican presidential frontrunners, mainly by Sen. John McCain. He noted that things could change.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - The House of Representatives passed a more modest expansion of a popular children's health insurance program Thursday, despite Republican complaints about a vote held while several members were visiting wildfire-ravaged California districts.
Even so, the 265-142 margin was short of the two-thirds margin Democrats would need to override another veto by President Bush, who killed a larger bill earlier this month.
Bush said the version he vetoed on October 3 would have encouraged families to leave the private insurance market for the federally funded, state-run program.
Watch Romney explain his approach to Iran.
MANCHESTER, New Hampshire (CNN) - Campaigning in the critical primary state of New Hampshire, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney said Thursday that he would take “military action” against Iran if “strict economic and diplomatic sanctions” did not curtail that country’s nuclear buildup.
“Let their country know that they are a pariah,” Romney said firmly during a visit to a local hospital.
“If for some reason they continue down their course of folly toward nuclear ambition, then I would take military action if that's available to us. That's an option that's on the table.”
“I really can't lay out exactly how that would be done, but we have a number of options, from blockade to bombardment of some kind….[F]rankly, I think it's unacceptable for Iran to have nuclear weapons."
Romney reiterated that he also supported strict sanctions and other forms of international pressure to prevent Iran’s nuclear buildup. He also said he would seek to indict Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad under the U.N.’s Genocide Convention.
– CNN New Hampshire Producer Sareena Dalla
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Democratic presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama offered qualified support for the Bush administration’s new sanctions against Iran Thursday, even as their differences over the issue loomed larger on the campaign trail this week.
Clinton offered support for the administration’s tougher sanctions, saying in a statement “We must use all the tools at our disposal to address the serious challenge posed by Iran, including diplomacy, economic pressure, and sanctions."
“I believe that a policy of diplomacy backed by economic pressure is the best way to check Iran’s efforts to acquire a nuclear weapons program and stop its support of terrorism, and the best way to avert a war," she added. "We must work to check Iran’s nuclear ambitions and its support of terrorism, and the sanctions announced today strengthen America's diplomatic hand in that regard.” (Related: Dodd, Edwards blast Iran sanctions, criticize Clinton)
But she said a stronger effort to work out a diplomatic solution was needed along with the sanctions.
Romney with wife Ann.
Manchester, New Hampshire (CNN) – Although former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney campaigned in New Hampshire Thursday, his thoughts were most certainly across the country.
Romney's second eldest son Matt is one of the evacuees of the California wildfires that have ravaged the southern part of the state for the past four days.
"My son and his family were mandatorily evacuated from their home," Romney said. "They've been in a hotel now for three days and I think this is their third day."
"Their home so far as we know is still fine but they're in Rancho Bernardo," Romney added. "Of course that was one of the areas very significantly hit and the local authorities asked them all to leave their homes, all on their neighborhood."
Romney also said that President Bush's visit to the state Thursday was an "important" step.
DES MOINES, Iowa (CNN) – All signs point to January 3–the same day the state's Republicans will hold theirs.
Carrie Giddins, communications director for the Iowa Democratic Party, said a notice will be sent out to members of their state central committee early Thursday afternoon alerting them to a conference call to be held at 8pm central time Sunday night.
"On that call it will be recommended that the caucuses move to January 3," Giddins told CNN.
The Iowa caucuses had been tentatively scheduled for January 14 for both parties, but on October 16 the Republican party's state central committee voted and chose January 3 for theirs. It was not certain whether or not both parties would end up holding their contests on the same day, even though tradition has typically made that the norm.
-CNN Iowa Producer Chris Welch