WASHINGTON (CNN) - Citing health reasons, Rep James Saxton, R-N.J., announced Friday he plans to retire at the end of his term.
Saxton is the 13th House Republican to announce retirement this year. Two other House GOP members, Rep. Heather Wilson, and Rep. Steve Pearce, both from New Mexico, announced plans recently to run for the seat of retiring GOP Sen. Pete Domenici, in their state.
"Although I had intended to run in 2008 and was planning a strong campaign, developments which occurred earlier this year regarding my health have prompted me to make this decision," Saxton said in a written statement. He has been treated for prostate cancer.
Michael Mukasey will soon take over the helm of the Justice Department.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Retired federal judge Michael Mukasey will become Attorney General Mukasey on Friday afternoon, taking the oath of office without fanfare from a Justice Department official.
Officials said Mukasey was en route from New York to Washington at midday and was expected to go straight to his new Justice Department office to take the oath in private from Assistant Attorney General for Administration Lee Loftus.
Next week Mukasey will be formally sworn in at a public ceremony either at the White House or the Justice Department. No date has been announced.
Justice Department officials busily processing documents in advance of Mukasey's arrival said they expected the new attorney general to hold a series of closed meetings with senior officials Friday, including one dealing with classified matters to which Mukasey did not have access prior to his confirmation.
(CNN) - In this Race to '08 podcast, Chief National Correspondent John King speaks with CNN Radio's Jim Ribble about Mitt Romney's presidential campaign in South Carolina.
King recently spent some time in the Palmetto State and has some interesting reporting about Romney's efforts to win over evangelical voters, Romeny's poll standing in the state, and how Romney's campaign has responded to Pat Robertson's endorsement of Rudy Giuliani.
Sens. McCain and Brownback shake hands at the press conference announcing Brownback's endorsement.
CONCORD, New Hampshire (CNN) – As the Republican field battles for the support of social conservative leaders, Arizona Sen. John McCain told reporters Friday that Kansas Sen. Sam Brownback's endorsement would have "far more impact" than evangelical leader, Pat Robertson's decision to back former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani.
Aboard his "Straight Talk Express," McCain called Giuliani's endorsement by the Christian Coalition founder a "stunning event," but added that in the social conservative community, Browback's backing would carry more weight. McCain pointed to the pro-life and pro-values communities where Brownback was "highly regarded."
Robertson's endorsement shocked many in the evangelical community given Giuliani's support for abortion and gay rights. Despite such differences, Robertson said he decided to endorse the former New York mayor because he was a "proven leader who is not afraid of what lies ahead and who will cast a hopeful vision for all Americans."
While the Giuliani camp hopes the backing of a prominent social conservative will help him build support with evangelical Christians, McCain is also vying for the same bloc of voters. McCain noted that he had already felt a lift since his Brownback endorsement with key Brownback campaign staffers and supporters coming on board.
– CNN New Hampshire Producer Sareena Dalla
Strickland endorsed Clinton Friday.
WASHINGTON (CNN) – Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton won the backing Friday from a governor of what is likely to be a key battleground state in the 2008 race for the White House.
Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland announced Friday in a conference call with reporters that he is endorsing the New York senator's campaign, calling Clinton an "experienced and strong leader."
"Here in Ohio which is in the heartland of the country, I believe she is the strongest candidate that our party can put forth, and I believe that she is the person that can win the presidency," Strickland also said.
Ohio played a key role in the 2004 presidential race, going to President Bush over then-Democratic nominee John Kerry by a little more than a 100,000 votes – a result that ultimately determined the outcome of the election.
“I don't think that it is likely that either a Democrat or a Republican will be successful without being successful in Ohio," Strickland said Friday. "I feel strongly [Clinton] is the candidate that can speak to the issues important to Ohioans and that she can carry Ohio."
– CNN Ticker Producer Alexander Mooney
Romney is taking on the subject of illegal immigration in a new ad.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney is airing a new ad in Iowa and New Hampshire Friday that touts his opposition to illegal immigration, and criticizes his Democratic rivals over their position on the issue.
"We all know Hillary Clinton and the Democrats have it wrong on immigration," Romney says in the new 30-second spot. "Our party should not make that mistake."
The Republican presidential candidate goes on to say he "authorized the State Police to enforce immigration laws" while governor and "opposed driver's licenses and in state tuition for illegal aliens."
In what appears to be a dig at rival presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani, Romney continues, "As president, I'll oppose amnesty, cut funding for sanctuary cities, and secure our borders."
Romney has previously aimed fire at the former New York City Republican mayor over the issue of "sanctuary cities," claiming he supported illegal immigration.
New York has never officially declared itself a sanctuary city, but it adopted a policy in 1988 that allows people to report crimes or check in to a hospital without their immigration status being questioned. In turn, Giuliani has pointed out that three cities in Massachusetts also carried that policy while Romney headed the state.
– CNN Ticker Producer Alexander Mooney
The DNC is auctioning of a "Mitt Romney Flip-Flop Kit"
WASHINGTON (CNN) – The Democratic National Committee criticized former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney Friday for encouraging supporters to sell their old belongings to help stock his presidential campaign war chest and said that he has "outgrown" his policy positions.
Romney's campaign launched "Mitt Market," a Web page where people can sell their possessions and direct the proceeds to be sent to his presidential campaign in the form of a donation. His campaign asked for "bicycles that the kids have outgrown to old electronics or baseball cards" and said "your stuff may be someone else's treasure."
As a response, the DNC is auctioning its own "Mitt Romney Flip Flop Kit" on ebay, which includes a DVD and flash cards with Romney's "more infamous flip-flops." The DNC said the proceeds will go a local animal shelter in honor of Romney's dog, Seamus, which he acknowledged rode in a dog carrier on top of the car during a family road trip.
Romney spokesman Kevin Madden said this shows that Democrats are worried about running against the former governor.
"The DNC spends an awful lot of time both worrying about and attacking Governor Romney," Madden said. "It just proves that the last person they want to run against is a chief executive like Governor Romney with a proven record of accomplishment who is determined to change the status quo of Washington and the free-spending, high-taxing ways of the Beltway Democrats."
"I’d put a list of actual Democratic accomplishments in this year’s Congress up for bid on e-Bay too if I could, but there aren’t any," Madden added.
–CNN Associate Producer Lauren Kornreich
(CNN) – Former New York Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik turned himself in Friday morning to face arraignment on federal corruption charges, the FBI said.
A federal grand jury's indictment of Kerik will be unsealed today, sources familiar with the investigation said.
Details of the charges were expected to be revealed at an 11:30 a.m. press conference.
How would you compare President Bush to his predecessors?
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Twenty-three percent of those questioned in a CNN/Opinion Research Corporation Poll released Thursday say that compared to other presidents in American history, President Bush is the worst ever.
Thirty-five percent of those surveyed say that Bush is doing a poor job compared to other presidents and 40 percent said he was doing a good job compared to his predecessors. Only one percent said that Bush was the best president ever in American history.
Thirty-four percent of those surveyed approve of how Bush is handling his job as president. That’s down slightly from the 36 percent who approved of the President's job performance when we asked the same question last month.
Bush’s approval rating has consistently been below 40 percent for more than a year.
"The last president with approval ratings this low for this long was Harry Truman. Truman's approval rating dropped below 50 percent in January 1950 and stayed below that mark for the rest of his presidency, says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland, adding that “Bush won't reach that milestone for several months.”
Giuliani praised friend Mukasey Friday.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Republican presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani praised newly confirmed Attorney General Michael Mukasey Friday, saying in a statement the former judge has "the leadership qualities that are needed to guide the department through this time of war."
"Michael has a long and distinguished career in public service as an Assistant United States Attorney and as a United States District Judge," the former New York City mayor said. "His 18-year career as United States District Judge was one of the most outstanding in the country and I am certain his tenure as Attorney General will be just as outstanding."
Giuliani and Mukasey are longtime friends, having first worked together more than 30 years ago in the New York City U.S. Attorney's office.
– CNN Ticker Producer Alexander Mooney