McCain is touting his pro-life record in conservative South Carolina.
GOOSE CREEK, South Carolina (CNN) - Three days after Sen. John McCain's campaign sent out a direct mail piece attacking the conservative credentials of rival Republican Rudy Giuliani, the Arizonan once again touted his pro-life record and declared that he is the strongest candidate in the current GOP field on the issue.
"I think I've been pretty vocal in my consistent pro-life record, particular in the debates we've had that are televised nationally, and it is a consistent record," he said in an interview with CNN following a town hall meeting here on Thursday.
McCain added that his record on abortion is "the most consistent of any of the major candidates."
Despite a solid 83 percent rating from the American Conservative Union, McCain has had difficulty in appealing to many social conservatives still bitter about his support of campaign finance reform and the 2000 presidential campaign. McCain called religious leaders Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell "agents of intolerance" during that race.
McCain has since worked to make amends with religious leaders. In May, McCain was the keynote graduation speaker at Falwell’s Liberty University in Virginia.
McCain's mailing this week suggests he will promote his pro-life record in the final two months leading up to January 19 South Carolina primary.
The mail piece, obtained by CNN, is headlined: "McCain: the only Conservative who can beat Senator Clinton. It says that he "is a stronger candidate than Rudy Giuliani in the general election." The mail piece also attacks Giuliani from the right by declaring that McCain has "a consistent 24-year pro-life voting record."
Giuliani, a former New York City mayor, is a supporter of abortion rights, but has pledged to appoint strict constructionists to the federal bench.
Although he claims a strong anti-abortion rights record and a commitment to appointing strict constructionist judges, McCain's support for embryonic stem cell research and his opposition to a federal amendment banning gay marriage are positions not popular with Christian conservatives and religious leaders in South Carolina.
- CNN South Carolina Producer Peter Hamby
WASHINGTON (CNN) - President Bush used strong words Thursday. Saying "some in Washington should spend more time responding to the warnings of terrorists like Osama bin Laden and the requests of our commanders on the ground and less time responding to the demands of MoveOn.org bloggers and Code Pink protesters," Bush went to bat for his embattled Attorney General nominee. Watch this report about the President's effort to keep Michael Mukasey on track for confirmation by the U.S. Senate.
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DES MOINES, Iowa (CNN) - Sen. Hillary Clinton's rivals sense a little blood in the water after Tuesday night's debate, and they're ready to move in for the kill.
If her rivals want to stop Clinton, they've got to do it in Iowa, where the Democratic presidential race is a dead heat.
David Yepsen of the Des Moines Register thinks her performance in the debate this week hurt her - and not not primarily because of she is the frontrunner.
"I think what gets her in trouble is waffling, is equivocating, is not being clear." Yepsen said.
- CNN Senior Political Analyst Bill Schneider
Mitt Romney campaigned in Iowa Thursday.
WEST DES MOINES, Iowa (CNN) - Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney cited former Republican president Ronald Reagan no fewer than four separate times Thursday night, using his name as backup for the three key topics of Romney's platform: a strong economy, a strong military, and a strong family.
After first attacking the Democratic field by saying that "they think a strong economy is related to taking more money from people [and] raising their taxes," the former Massachusetts governor said the real way to grow the economy is to do the opposite.
"You do as Ronald Reagan did. You keep taxes down," Romney said. "I want to make the Bush tax cuts permanent. I want to kill the death tax once and for all. I want to lower the corporate tax rates so people can invest in their future."
Citing Ronald Reagan is no new tactic among the current crop of Republican presidential candidates.
Romney stressed that a strong military–which he says will come only with a robust economy–is also crucial given the current threats Romney says are coming from global Jihadism.
"As Ronald Reagan used to say he saw four wars during his lifetime," Romney said, "and not one of them began because America was too strong."
COLUMBIA, South Carolina (CNN) - Here's a quick look at what's making political news in South Carolina this morning:
Today South Carolina is the focal point of the presidential race, with no less than five candidates campaigning in the state. Democrats John Edwards, Barack Obama and Joe Biden, and Republicans John McCain and Mike Huckabee, are all visiting the Palmetto State. And that's on top of President Bush's fundraising visit to Columbia tonight on behalf of Sen. Lindsey Graham.
In Goose Creek Thursday afternoon, McCain suggested he will be more aggressive in promoting his pro-life record in South Carolina.
Also Thursday, Stephen Colbert's presidential bid hit a major roadblock after state Democratic party officials voted to keep his name off the primary ballot. In case you missed it, Democratic chairwoman Carol Fowler called into "The Colbert Report" Thursday night to explain to Colbert why he was left off the ballot.
On the Republican side, GOP chairman Katon Dawson certified 11 candidates to be on the primary ballot: McCain, Huckabee, Rudy Giuliani, Duncan Hunter, Ron Paul, Mitt Romney, Tom Tancredo, Fred Thompson as well as three lesser-known presidential hopefuls: John Cox, Hugh Cort and Cap Fendig.
- CNN South Carolina Producer Peter Hamby
For the latest, breaking political news, check for updates throughout the day on the CNN Political Ticker http://www.cnn.com/ticker. All politics, all the time.
Making News Today…
Missouri senator to back Giuliani
WASHINGTON (CNN) – Sen. Kit Bond, R-Missouri, will endorse former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani for president Friday in the nation’s capital, two GOP sources with knowledge of the event tell CNN.
Bond's support gives Giuliani a boost in a Midwest swing state that will hold its primary on February 5, 2008. He is a former governor, who was first elected to the Senate in 1986 and reelected to a fourth term in 2004. Bond also serves as vice chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, which makes him an influential voice on national security matters.
- CNN Chief National Correspondent John King
Clinton last to file for New Hampshire primary
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-New York, Friday will be the last major candidate to add her name to New Hampshire's presidential primary ballot.
Presidential hopefuls have until the end of the day to submit the paperwork and pay the $1,000 filing fee to get on the Granite State ballot.
And the delay may be over for election enthusiasts that have been waiting to hear what date the New Hampshire primary will take place. While not being specific on the timing, Secretary of State William Gardner has indicated he would set the date for the primary once the filing period closes.
- CNN Associate Producer Lauren Kornreich
McCain: I am most consistent on abortion
GOOSE CREEK, South Carolina (CNN) — Three days after Sen. John McCain's campaign sent out a direct mail piece attacking the conservative credentials of rival Republican Rudy Giuliani, the Arizonan once again touted his pro-life record and declared that he is the strongest candidate in the current GOP field on the issue.
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Political Hot Topics
(Today's top political stories from news organizations across the country)
Compiled by Lauren Kornreich
CNN Washington Bureau
Obama Envisions New Iran Approach: Senator Barack Obama says he would “engage in aggressive personal diplomacy” with Iran if elected president and would offer economic inducements and a possible promise not to seek “regime change” if Iran stopped meddling in Iraq and cooperated on terrorism and nuclear issues. New York Times
Despite polls, Obama, Edwards strong with primary state donors: Newly compiled fundraising data show public polls do not necessarily indicate the support that presidential candidates have among the most committed Democrats and Republicans in key primary states. The Hill
The first President Bush speaks (and leaves us confused): George H.W. Bush - the 41st president and father of the 43rd president - has joined the chorus wondering whether Hillary Clinton's debate stumbles earlier this week could dramatically redirect the course of the Democratic presidential race. But as he discusses the matter - in an interview airing on "Fox News Sunday" this weekend - he provides a useful reminder that Clinton isn't the only one who sometimes struggles with an answer. LA Times
Clinton, Dodd sign letter warning Bush on Iran: Hillary Clinton and 29 other senators wrote to President Bush yesterday to tell him he has no congressional authority for war with Iran, sparking debate among the Democratic presidential candidates. Boston Globe
Romney adviser at home in the spy world fray: On Sept. 19, 2001, J. Cofer Black, the director of the CIA's Counterterrorist Center, summoned two agents to his office. "I want bin Laden's head shipped back in a box filled with dry ice," Black told them, one of the agents later reported. "I want to be able to show bin Laden's head to the president." Black – who is now Mitt Romney's chief adviser on counterterrorism and national security – is a brash and tough-talking veteran spy. He is also controversial. Boston Globe
Thompson questions Clinton's diplomacy: Republican presidential candidate Fred Thompson suggested on Thursday that Democratic rival Hillary Rodham Clinton's lack of clarity in her answers at the debate raises questions about her ability to handle diplomacy. Associated Press
Did Romney up taxes or close loopholes?: Mitt Romney's Harvard MBA and gold-plated resume convinced many business leaders he would follow in the tradition of corporate-friendly Republicans when he was elected governor of Massachusetts in 2002. Associated Press
GOP: 'Clinton Will Give Illegal Immigrants Voting Rights.' Say What?: Fred Thompson and Mike Huckabee are on the same page today in trying to advance the Hillary Clinton driver's license imbroglio: During the Tuesday Democratic debate, Clinton offered a hazy answer to a question about Gov. Eliot Spitzer's proposal to offer limited licenses to illegal immigrants, opening up an angle of attack for Democrats. But the issue is proving fertile ground for Republicans as well. Hotline
Clinton's fundraiser raises questions: On the wall of Hsiao Yen Wang's apartment, a cramped, 17th-floor public housing unit on the city's Lower East Side, are photographs of her husband, David Guo, a cook who specializes in Fujian cuisine. Associated Press
The angry voter: Bad news for Dems: Congressional Democrats certainly know the power of a throw-the-bums-out message. It vaulted them to power a year ago this week. Little wonder anxiety is boiling over inside the new majority as lawmakers ponder a succession of polls and reach an inescapable conclusion: Lots of people think they are bums, too. Politico
Poll: Thompson edging Romney for GOP lead in S.C.: Former U.S. Sen. Fred Thompson holds a thin lead for the 2008 S.C. Republican presidential primary, a new poll shows, potentially setting up the Palmetto State as the not-Mitt-Romney firewall. The State
Michelle Obama, Indebted to Clinton, Campaigns as an Everywoman: She's a mother in her early 40s, an accomplished lawyer with an Ivy League education married to a Democratic presidential candidate who promises to redefine U.S. politics. Not Hillary Clinton, circa 1992; it's Michelle Obama, 2007. Bloomberg
Edwards now eligible for public funds: The Federal Election Commission on Thursday declared Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards officially eligible for federal matching money to help finance his campaign. Associated Press
Issue of Illegal Immigration Is Quandary for Democrats: Until Tuesday night, the Democratic presidential candidates had largely ignored the subject of illegal immigration. The topic, Democratic strategists concluded, was fraught with too much potential for alienating general election voters. Washington Post
You've Got Mail From Sen. Chris Dodd: Chris Dodd may not be breaking fundraising records, but he gets points for fundraising creativity. His latest invention: the faux internal e-mail. Washington Post
Obama introduces Senate resolution on Iran: Democrat Barack Obama introduced a Senate resolution late Thursday that says President Bush does not have authority to use military force against Iran, the latest move in a debate with presidential rival Hillary Rodham Clinton about how to respond to that country's nuclear ambitions. Associated Press
GOP declares war on Dem pet projects: First they took on the hippie museum. Now, they’re gunning for Los Angeles’ Fashion District and tennis player Andre Agassi’s prep school. Politico
Bill Clinton Gives Interview to Former Foe: File this under Dept. of Strange Bedfellows: Former President Bill Clinton has apparently granted an interview to Chris Ruddy, a one-time archenemy of the Clintons who now runs the conservative publication Newsmax. New York Times
Undecided Schumer May Be Key to Mukasey's Chances: As Democratic opposition builds over attorney general nominee Michael B. Mukasey, no Democratic lawmaker has found himself in a tighter spot than Sen. Charles E. Schumer (N.Y.), who had eagerly recommended the former federal judge as a consensus candidate. Washington Post
On the Trail:
Compiled by Lauren Kornreich
CNN Washington Bureau
* Sen. Joe Biden, D-Delaware, Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-New York, and Sen. Chris Dodd, D-Connecticut, speak at the Granite State Independent Living's National Forum on Equality, Opportunity and Access at the Radisson Hotel in Manchester, New Hampshire.
* Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-New York, files paperwork to get on New Hampshire's primary election ballot in Concord. Later, she stops by Sophie and Zeke's in Claremont.
* Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani announces an endorsement in Washington, D.C. Later, he meets with local residents in Errol and Dixville Notch, New Hampshire. In the evening, Giuliani delivers remarks at a town hall meeting in Shelburne and meets with locals in Berlin.
* Former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards heads to South Carolina for a town hall meeting in Cheraw and a roundtable discussion with former employees of Springs Textile Mill in Lancaster. Later, actor Danny Glover joins Edwards to tour A Place for Hope and the Blackmon Road Community in Rock Hill.
* Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, holds a town hall meeting in North Charleston, South Carolina. Later, McCain attends an event in Lexington honoring Joshua L. Torrence, a Marine who was killed in Fallujah, Iraq.
* Following his New Hampshire stop, Sen. Joe Biden, D-Delaware, heads to South Carolina for a meet and greet at Limestone College in Gaffney and an NAACP banquet at Carolina First Center in Greenville. In the evening, Biden attends the HBCU Classic Coaches' reception at the Hilton Hotel in Greenville.
* Sen. Chris Dodd, D-Connecticut, attends an Every Child Matters Presidential Candidates Forum at the University of New Hampshire in Durham. Later, Dodd meets with local residents at the Puritan Backroom Restaurant in Manchester.
* Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney holds "Ask Mitt Anything" town hall meetings in Marshalltown and Waterloo. Later, he heads to Cleveland, Ohio and talks to the press at the Union Club.
* Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee holds an event at the Convention Center in Columbia, South Carolina.
* Sen. Barack Obama, D-Illinois, visits the historic Clarendon County Courthouse, where one of the historic Brown v. Board cases was decided, for a community gathering in Manning, South Carolina. Later, Obama addresses NAACP freedom fund dinners in Sumter and Greenville.
* Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, holds rallies in Clemson and Columbia, South Carolina.
* New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson stumps through Iowa starting with a coffee with locals in DeWitt. He delivers a speech called "Keeping our Promise," which will focus on policy for veterans and military families in Davenport. Later, Richardson holds events in Tipton and Cedar Rapids.