Mukasey says he personally finds waterboarding 'repugnant.'
WASHINGTON (CNN) - President Bush's pick for attorney general, Judge Michael Mukasey, called the interrogation technique known as "waterboarding" a "repugnant" practice Tuesday, but again refused to say whether it violates U.S. laws banning torture.
As he did in his Oct. 18 confirmation hearing, Mukasey told Senate Judiciary Committee members that he has not received classified briefings on what techniques American interrogators are allowed to use and cannot make a legal judgment.
Watch Mike Huckabee address recent attacks on him from the right.
WASHINGTON (CNN) – Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee answered some of his conservative critics in an interview in the Situation Room Tuesday. “Why are they coming after you like this?,” Wolf Blitzer asked, referring to a conservative group’s recent attack on Huckabee’s tax record as governor of Arkansas. “Because I’m a threat to some folks who really want an old-fashioned, establishment Republican that can be controlled by a handful of people on Wall Street,” Huckabee responded “and you know Wolf, I can’t.”
Huckabee also discussed his record regarding illegal immigrants while Arkansas’s governor and Rudy Giuliani’s views on abortion. Watch the interview.
Click here to see CNN's new political portal: CNNPolitics.com
– CNN Associate Producer Martina Stewart
NEW YORK (CNN) - A confidante of President Bush is backing Rudy Giuliani for president, the former New York City mayor's campaign announced Tuesday.
Joe Allbaugh headed the Federal Emergency Management Agency under Bush and served as his chief of staff when he was the Texas governor and as campaign manager of the 2000 Bush-Cheney presidential campaign. Allbaugh will serve as a senior advisor to Giuliani.
– CNN Producer Shirley Zilberstein
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Now that the Nevada Democratic caucus is set to take place on January 19, the state's Democratic Party is putting in place a program to teach rural high school students the art of caucusing.
The party has been coordinating with several school districts to form a "non partisan curriculum" guiding high school seniors through the basics of what can be a confusing process.
While the majority of high school seniors are under 18, the Democratic Party notes 17 year-olds are allowed to participate in the caucus if they will turn 18 by Election Day, November 4, 2008.
Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, and South Carolina are the only four states sanctioned by the Democratic National Committee to hold their presidential nominating contests in January.
– CNN Ticker Producer Alexander Mooney
Clinton is likely to be in the center of fire at tonight's debate.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - The Democratic presidential hopefuls all face off tonight in Philadelphia, but the Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama campaigns are already taking shots at each other.
While the senator from New York is far ahead of her rivals in all the national polls, there are expectations that Obama, D-Illinois, and former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards will step up their attacks on Clinton in tonight’s debate.
“Obama has raised the expectations for the debate, and that may not altogether be a good thing,” says CNN Senior Political Analyst Gloria Borger, adding that “he has signaled very strongly that he intends to be sharper in his criticism of Hillary Clinton, so all eyes will be on him."
The question is whether he can execute it well enough to keep Clinton from complaining that he’s "gone negative"—a notion, she says, that would "undermine the ‘hopeful’ politics of his campaign.”
But in what’s known as a pre-buttal, Clinton Campaign chief strategist Mark Penn said in an e-mail to reporters that “considering that both Sens. Obama and Edwards made their names by pledging to be positive, the last thing one would have expected was for either of them to go out and announce with pride that they were now going to go negative on a fellow Democrat.”
The Obama campaign quickly responded, with chief strategist David Axelrod telling Borger that “it’s the height of disingenuousness, for these people, who a run hardened political machine, to turn around and profess that any legitimate exchange is out of bounds.”
– CNN Deputy Political Director Paul Steinhauser
WASHINGTON (CNN) - A new poll shows Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-New York, and former Gov. Mitt Romney, R-Massachusetts in the lead in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina.
The poll by the American Research Group shows former Gov. Mike Huckabee, R-Arkansas, moving up to second place behind Romney in Iowa and making some ground in South Carolina and New Hampshire.
On the Democratic side, Sen. Clinton maintains her front runner status in all three states.
Iowa NH SC
Romney 27% 30% 29%
Giuliani 16% 23% 23%
McCain 14% 17% 13%
Huckabee 19% 7% 5%
Thompson 8% 5% 10%
Iowa NH SC
Clinton 32% 40% 41%
Obama 22% 22% 19%
Edwards 15% 10% 18%
Richardson 7% 5% 1%
Biden 5% 4% 6%
Sample Size: 600 likely voters
Sample Dates: Oct. 26-29, 2007
Margin of error: +/-4%
– CNN Political Producer Xuan Thai
Watch Sen. McCain discuss the state of the Republican Party.
NEW YORK, New York (CNN) – Arizona Sen. John McCain said Monday he supported economic sanctions against Iran, a no-negotiations policy with anti-Israeli militant groups, and endorsed free-trade in a speech to a group of American Jewish leaders.
McCain, who is seeking the Republican presidential nomination, also told attendants at the American Jewish Organizations Conference that the decrease in the number of American deaths in Iraq can be attributed directly to the “surge,” of U.S. troops sent in to that country by President Bush.
“I can look you in the eye today and say that it is succeeding,” McCain said.
The Arizona senator acknowledged that some Americans view the GOP with skepticism, because a handful of its federal lawmakers have been convicted of abusing their positions for personal gain.
“Republicans obviously have very low approval ratings throughout the country because largely, in my view, because of our spending practices, which have led to corruption and I don't use that word lightly,” he said. “I say corruption because there are former members of Congress now residing in federal prison.”
But McCain also pointed out that the GOP is the party of American legends including President Abraham Lincoln, President Theodore Roosevelt and President Ronald Reagan. And he said that the GOP is “an inclusionary party not an exclusionary party,” that promotes “less government, less regulations, strong national defense, lower taxes, more individual freedom.”
– CNN’s Laura Winter
Clinton said Tuesday she is against Mukasey's confirmation.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-New York, said Tuesday she will not support Judge Michael Mukasey's confirmation to be then next attorney general, citing the judge's "continued unwillingness to clearly state his views on torture and unchecked Executive power."
"When we leave any doubt about our nation’s policy on torture, we send a terrible message to the rest of the world," Clinton said in a statement issued by her Senate office. "Judge Mukasey has been given ample opportunity – both at his confirmation hearings and in his subsequent submission to the Judiciary Committee – to clarify his answers and categorically oppose the unacceptable interrogation techniques employed by this Administration."
Earlier Tuesday, Illinois Sen. Barack Obama, Clinton's chief rival for the Democratic nomination, also said he was against Mukasey's confirmation.
As for the other Democratic Senate presidential candidates, Connecticut Sen. Chris Dodd has said he is against the confirmation and Delaware Sen. Joe Biden said in a statement he will not vote for Mukasey unless he states "clearly that waterboarding constitutes torture and that the president is bound by the law."
Meanwhile, former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards released a statement Tuesday calling on the Senate to deny Mukasey's confirmation.
"The credibility of Justice Department has been badly tarnished, and it is now clear that Mukasey is not the man to restore it," Edwards said.
Responding to the candidates' opposition of Mukasey, Maria Comella, a spokeswoman for Rudy Giuliani's presidential campaign, said, "You know the Democratic presidential nominees have hit a new low when Chuck Schumer isn't even on their side.
"Judge Mukasey is an honorable, well-qualified nominee for attorney general who doesn't deserve to have his nomination politicized and used for personal gain by the likes of Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama," she added.
Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-New York, was an early supporter of Mukasey's nomination though he has said he is waiting for Mukasey's written answers on waterboarding before he decides whether to vote for the judge's confirmation.
Bill Clinton made two campaign stops in South Carolina on his wife's behalf.
ROCK HILL, South Carolina (CNN) - At a campaign rally in South Carolina Monday evening, former President Bill Clinton defended his wife Hillary from charges made by other campaigns and some political observers that she is too polarizing to win the presidency.
"They continue to say she's the most unelectable because she's so polarizing," Clinton told the crowd gathered at a community center here. "Well they have dumped on her for 16 years. They'd all be polarizing too if the right wing of the Republican party which controls their politics had been dumping on them for 16 years. I'd like to see how those boys would stand up to it. I think the girl's done pretty well ... The more people know her her positive ratings go up and her negative ratings go down."
Clinton, who spent much of his nearly hour-long speech digging into issues like climate change, health care and the national debt, said his wife is better qualified than any other Democratic contender to step into the White House and lead from day one.
"I like all these other people running for president, and I'm not saying they couldn't restore our standing in the world, I'm just saying that America gets no honeymoon," he said. "We have made too many people mad for too long and we need to get this show on the road, she's the most likely to do that."
Still, Clinton said he liked liked every Democrat running for office, noting that he read Sen. John Edwards' health care plan and Sen. Barack Obama's energy plan with interest.
"I hope any of us can win. One thing I like about this race as a Democrat is I don't have to be against anybody," he said.
Monday marked Clinton's third campaign visit to South Carolina on behalf of his wife's presidential campaign.
UPDATE: The RNC responded to Clinton's comments: "Bill Clinton may not be against any of the Democrat presidential candidates, but the American people will be against their proposals for staggering tax hikes that will feed a growing DC bureaucracy that isn’t getting things done for the American people," said RNC spokesman Brian Walton.
"There is a reason Clinton didn't win South Carolina when he ran for president, and it's the same reason Hillary and the other Democrat candidates won't win it in 2008."
– CNN South Carolina Producer Peter Hamby
Richardson is out with a new ad in Iowa Tuesday.
WASHINGTON (CNN) – New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson launched a new ad in Iowa Tuesday that seeks to clarify his differences with his presidential rivals over the war in Iraq.
"I knew there would be differences between the candidates, especially on Iraq," the New Mexico Democrat says in the 60-second ad. "I will get every soldier out. You cannot say you will end the war if you plan to leave thousands of troops behind. The Iraqis sure will not think the war is over."
“If you are wondering if anyone can really do all this, just look at what I have done in my life and how I have done it," Richardson continues. "Not by dividing people, but by earning their trust. And that is really where we need to begin in Iraq. There is a way out."