Waterboarding threatened to derail the approval of President Bush's nominee to lead the Justice Department.
(CNN) - After weeks of controversy over Michael Mukasey's views on waterboarding, the Senate late Thursday approved the former judge's nomination for attorney general by a 53-40 vote.
President Bush nominated Mukasey to replace longtime ally Alberto Gonzales, who resigned in September.
The nomination had been considered at risk after a number of Democratic senators opposed Mukasey because of questions that arose from his views on the terror interrogation technique known as waterboarding and the president's power to order electronic surveillance.
Watch Brian Todd's report about an anonymous e-mail that has been making the rounds on the Internet.
(CNN) - Brian Todd takes a closer look at an anonymous e-mail that has accused Sen. Barack Obama, D-Illinois, of not showing proper respect for the American flag.
Related: Obama calls Internet accusation a 'dirty trick'
Click here to see CNN's new political portal: CNNPolitics.com
RNC Chairman Mike Duncan
WASHINGTON (CNN) – The Republican Party will penalize five states for holding presidential primary elections before February 5, 2008, Republican National Committee Chairman Mike Duncan announced Thursday.
New Hampshire, Florida, South Carolina, Michigan and Wyoming will be stripped of half their delegates to the party's convention in September, Duncan said in a conference call with reporters.
"The rules lay out a well defined process for selecting delegates, including a window from February 5 to July 28 in which state parties are permitted to hold their delegate selection process," Duncan said. "Five states have gone outside the rules with their delegate selection process, and they have been made fully aware of what the consequences will be."
The Iowa and Nevada caucuses are also scheduled to be held before February 5, but these two states will avoid being penalized because caucuses do not assign binding delegates to the convention.
Reacting to the news, several state party leaders said they still expect their full delegation will be allowed to participate in the convention.
Rudy Giuliani and Bernard Kerik prepared for a press conference in November 2001.
(CNN) - A year after admitting to misdemeanor charges of financial impropriety, former New York Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik faces new charges from a federal grand jury, sources familiar with the investigation said Thursday.
A sealed indictment against Kerik is expected to be unsealed on Friday, two sources familiar with the probe told CNN. No details of the charges involved were immediately available, but sources said earlier this week that prosecutors had been looking into allegations including bribery and tax evasion.
Kerik, 52, is a longtime friend and former protege of former Mayor Rudy Giuliani, now the Republican presidential front-runner in national polls. He was frequently by Giuliani's side in the days after the Sept. 11, 2001 attack on the World Trade Center, and his role as the city's police commissioner propelled him into the national spotlight.
With Giuliani's backing, President Bush nominated Kerik to be secretary of homeland security after winning re-election in 2004. But Kerik withdrew his name from consideration that December amid allegations that he employed a nanny who had questionable immigration status.
Bronx District Attorney Robert Johnson then began investigating allegations that Kerik had traded payment on repairs to his Bronx apartment for favors, including city contracts. The ex-chief pleaded guilty in 2006 to accepting tens of thousands of dollars in gifts while he worked as city corrections commissioner. He was fined $221,000 and avoided jail time under his plea agreement.
Giuliani, now the front-runner for the 2008 Republican presidential nomination, called his earlier patronage of Kerik "a mistake" during a campaign stop in Iowa on Thursday.
"I made a mistake in not clearing him effectively enough, and I take the responsibility for that," Giuliani told reporters at a campaign stop in Dubuque, Iowa. But he added that voters who look at his record as a prosecutor and mayor will decide, "If he makes the same balance of right decisions and incorrect decisions as president, the country would be in pretty good shape."
COLUMBIA, South Carolina (CNN) - Here's a quick look at what's making news in South Carolina politics this Friday morning:
The RNC declared Thursday that they would punish South Carolina, New Hampshire, Wyoming, Florida and Michigan for moving up their primary dates.
South Carolina GOP chairman Katon Dawson told CNN he stands by the decision to hold the Republican primary on Jan. 19.
"We have been outside the window the entire time and we knew that," he said. "We have always felt the South Carolina Republican primary will be the first in the South primary and we were willing to sacrifice a few delegates to make sure that 700,000 primary voters would have their voices heard."
The Boston Globe asks if Barack Obama's race is a blessing or a curse among black voters in South Carolina.
Jonathan Martin from The Politico gives his take on how South Carolina's changing demographics will impact the Republican primary this time around.
Mike Huckabee and Ron Paul - "Two dark horses riding high," says The State.
After Sam Brownback endorsed John McCain this week, Brownback's South Carolina chairman David Barron is now supporting McCain.
But other Brownback supporters are still making up their minds. On Tuesday, Brownback supporter state Sen. Kevin Bryant said he would support Mitt Romney.
– CNN South Carolina Producer Peter Hamby
CNN's Bill Schneider reports on the partisan divide in the latest Iraq poll numbers.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Reacting to a new CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll released Thursday that indicates Americans' opposition to the Iraq war has reached an all time high, the White House cited recent successes in the country and said it takes time for perceptions of the war to change.
“The American people want our troops to succeed in Iraq, and it may take some time for perceptions to change back here, but the evidence on the ground in Iraq is clear: the surge is succeeding in bringing greater security in Iraq," White House spokesman Tony Fratto said.
"And as the president has said, with continued success we can begin to bring troops home," he added. "As our troops are clearly succeeding on the ground in Iraq, they deserve our undivided support."
The poll, released earlier Thursday, showed 68 percent of Americans oppose the war in Iraq.
– CNN's Suzanne Malveaux contributed to this report
Watch John King's report about Romney's campaign in South Carolina.
(CNN) - Chief National Correspondent John King spent some time in South Carolina and filed this report.
King takes a look at former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney's methodical campaign to win over Republican primary voters in conservative South Carolina.
Watch Rep. Paul's Situation Room interview.
WASHINGTON (CNN) – Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, gave the credit for his growing presidential campaign to his grassroots supporters in an interview on CNN’s The Situation Room Thursday.
“I think we have a very good platform that’s very appealing to the people who care about what’s going on in this country,” said Paul. “I think it’s a strong message, a strong disaffection for what’s happening here in this country. I happened to be there,” explained Paul. “And, the grassroots has really put this together,” the libertarian added.
The Texas Republican spoke to CNN’s Wolf Blitzer about his fundraising, the expansion of his presidential campaign, the Iraq war, his ‘plan B’ if he doesn’t win the 2008 Republican presidential nomination, his voting record in the U.S. House of Representatives, and his views about the U.S. Constitution.
Watch Paul’s Situation Room interview.
Related: Will Paul spoil New Hampshire for the GOP?
– CNN Associate Producer Martina Stewart
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…
Michael Mukasey confirmed as attorney general
Waterboarding threatened to derail the approval of President Bush's nominee to lead the Justice Department.
Mukasey's confirmation was all but assured last week when two key Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee - Sens. Dianne Feinstein of California and Chuck Schumer of New York - said they would vote in favor of Mukasey despite the controversy. Full Story
Public to Congress: Shape up, or ship out!
WASHINGTON (CNN) - A record number of Americans say that most members of Congress do not deserve to be re-elected, according to the CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll released Friday morning.
According to the poll, if the elections were held today, Democratic congressional candidates would get 53 percent of the vote to 42 percent for Republican candidates.
Party affiliation aside, 2008 may be a rocky year for incumbents.
Fifty-three percent of people surveyed said that most members of Congress do not deserve re-election, the highest figure since the question was first asked in 1991.
Americans think more highly of the member of Congress representing them. However, 39 percent say their own member of Congress does not deserve re-election - also a record high since polling began on that question in 1991.
Broken down by party, GOP members of Congress received less support for re-election from the public than Democrats. Just 38 percent of those polled believe that most Republican members of Congress deserve re-election; 50 percent say that most Democrats in Congress deserve to be re-elected.
The CNN/Opinion Research Corporation telephone poll of 1,024 American adults was carried out over the weekend. The sampling error for the full sample was plus-or-minus 3 percentage points; some questions were asked of a half sample of approximately 500 respondents and carry a sampling error of plus-or-minus 4.5 percentage points.
– CNN Political Assignment Editor Katy Byron
RNC punishes five states for early primaries
WASHINGTON (CNN) - The Republican Party will penalize five states for holding presidential primary elections before February 5, 2008, Republican National Committee Chairman Mike Duncan announced Thursday. Full Story
S.C. Watch: In the Palmetto State, Mitt Romney is methodical VIDEO
(CNN) - Chief National Correspondent John King takes a look at former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney's
methodical campaign to win over Republican primary voters in conservative South Carolina.
Political Hot Topics
(Today's top political stories from news organizations across the country)
Compiled by Lindsey Pope
CNN Washington Bureau
New Hampshire Union-Leader: NH Takes A Big Hit From GOP Over Primary
New Hampshire is among five states formally sanctioned by the Republican National Committee yesterday for planning to hold its presidential primary before Feb. 5, 2008, the earliest date allowed by an RNC rule.
Baltimore Sun: DNC Bypasses City Over Labor Clash
Because a union plans to picket a downtown hotel, the Democratic National Committee is moving its fall meeting from Baltimore to Virginia, disappointing local and state leaders who had anticipated the spotlight of a presidential campaign landing briefly on the city.
New York Times: From Back of G.O.P. Pack, Huckabee Is Stirring
Mike Huckabee’s field staff had expected a modest crowd for a campaign event at a tiny rural community college [in Iowa] on Wednesday. But as people began to cram into the shoe-box-size room, campaign organizers scurried to roll back a dividing wall and set up extra chairs.
New York Times: Clinton Gets an Instant Chance to Wield a New Weapon
It used to be that when a campaign had an argument with a news report, it put out a mass e-mail message disputing the offending item. That was a huge technological leap from the fax machine.
The Tennessean: Poll Of Tennesseans Finds Clinton Nearly Even With Thompson
So much for the home field advantage. A newly released poll of Tennessee voters shows Republican Fred Thompson with only a narrow lead over Democrat Hillary Rodham Clinton in a hypothetical presidential match-up.
Washington Post: On Campaign Bus, Obama Opens Up About Challengers
Sen. Barack Obama (Ill.) took on his two principal rivals for the Democratic presidential nomination Thursday, arguing that Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (N.Y.) cannot appeal to independents and Republicans as effectively as he can and asserting that former senator John Edwards's populist message does not square with his record.
Des Moines Register: Voters Grill Obama On Electability
Democratic presidential Barack Obama faced questions from several voters today in southern Iowa about whether he could beat presidential party frontrunners Hillary Clinton and Rudy Giuliani.
Boston Globe: Politics Of Doubt Gnaw At Black Voters In S.C.
History whispers to black voters here in South Carolina not to get their hopes up when Senator Barack Obama comes to town and says he can win the presidency.
New York Times: Kerik’s Corruption Case Dogs Giuliani
The scene outside the old Victorian-style courthouse in Dubuque on Thursday morning showed that the indictment of Bernard B. Kerik is at the very least a big distraction for Rudolph W. Giuliani’s presidential campaign.
LA Times: If It Is The Economy, GOP May Be In Trouble
Republican strategists are beginning to fear that a deteriorating economy will pose serious obstacles for their party's presidential candidates, who may ultimately have to answer for rising gas prices and a slumping housing market.
New Hampshire Union-Leader: Biden, Richardson Call For 'Soft', 'Smart' Diplomacy
U.S. Sen. Joe Biden and Gov. Bill Richardson called for more foreign aid and more diplomacy at a major forum on foreign policy at St. Anselm College yesterday.
AP: Protesters Arrested in Giuliani's Office
Eighteen anti-war activists were arrested Thursday in campaign offices for Rudy Giuliani and Hillary Rodham Clinton after they demanded that both presidential candidates promise to withdraw all troops from Iraq if elected.
Quad City Times: Giuliani 2nd Pick of Many Conservatives
Rudy Giuliani is doing so well among conservatives that even those who don't back his presidential bid turn to him in strong numbers when asked to name their second choice, an Associated Press-Ipsos poll showed Thursday.
USA Today: Christian Coalition To Lay Low For White House Primaries
As Republican White House hopefuls tout endorsements from faith leaders, the once-powerful Christian Coalition of America will bypass the presidential primary contests entirely, the head of the South Carolina-based group said Thursday.
LA Times: On Second Thought, Conservatives Give Huckabee An Amen
Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, a longtime Southern Baptist pastor, didn't think to pray over the pepperoni when he pitched his candidacy for the Republican nomination to a fired-up crowd at Doughy Joey's. But otherwise, he hit all the right notes for Samuel - and for scores of other conservative Christians who packed his campaign events in Iowa this week…
Des Moines Register: Giuliani Faults Bill Clinton's Military Spending
Republican Rudy Giuliani, campaigning in Iowa the same day that Bill Clinton was in the Hawkeye State, charged today that the former president had weakened the American military and intelligence services through spending cuts during his administration.
Chicago Tribune's Clout Street: GOP Presidential Hopeful Thompson Establishes Illinois Leadership Team
Former Tennessee Sen. Fred Thompson's campaign for the Republican presidential nomination said today it has established a leadership team to cover each of Illinois' congressional districts, tapping heavily into connections established by its state chairman, state Sen. Bill Brady of Bloomington.
Quad City Times: Thompson's Facts on Immigration Bill
Republican presidential hopeful Fred Thompson said this week that he opposed a comprehensive Senate immigration reform bill, while his top rivals supported it. Rudy Giuliani and Mitt Romney forcefully opposed the legislation.
Politico: Bill Bogs Down Where Hillary Strides Ahead
Bill Clinton has spent the last two weeks as an unlikely victim of a manic media environment that his wife has largely mastered.
The Hill: Short Of Cash, NRCC Seeks Millionaires
Faced with lingering debt and a losing fundraising battle, House Republicans are recruiting a slew of self-funding candidates to run in many of their top races this election cycle.
New York Times' The Caucus: A Timely Clinton Web Initiative
In another new example of how the Web is empowering campaigns to get their word out, Team Clinton used the story on a new Web site that it says it will use to defend against reports, or, for that matter, opponents’ charges, that it views as being off base.
They are calling it “The Fact Hub: The straight scoop on Election ’08 from The Hillary Clinton Campaign.”
The Times of London: Is She Or Isn’t She? Hillary Clinton Caught On The Defensive As Voter Doubts Multiply
After striding surefooted through the foothills of the Democratic presidential contest, Hillary Clinton’s frontrunning campaign has spent the past week tripping itself up.
The Hill: Clinton Tops 2008 Rivals, Gets $530M In Earmarks
Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (N.Y.) has won tens of millions of dollars more in federal earmarks this year than her rivals for the Democratic presidential nomination, even though two of them have significantly more Senate seniority.
The Hill: Iraq Withdrawal Redux
The House is expected to rejoin the Iraq debate Friday with a quickly called vote on withdrawing troops from Iraq that caught some Democrats by surprise and was ridiculed by Republicans.
Roll Call: Capitol Police Send Out E-mail Looking for Information on Senate Fires
Capitol Police have issued another e-mailed request to Senate staff asking for any details that could help them find out who is responsible for setting seven fires in two Senate office buildings since late September.
Washington Times: Reagan21 Caucus Formed To Focus On Spending, Ethics
Capitol Hill Republicans are invoking former President Ronald Reagan in their latest effort to strengthen their party's conservative credentials, forming a new caucus whose members must pledge to support limited government and to restore ethics in Washington.
On the Trail:
Compiled by Lauren Kornreich and Katy Byron
CNN Washington Bureau
* Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani will visit with local residents at Crazy Pita outside Las Vegas, in Henderson, Nevada.
* Sen. Barack Obama, D-Illinois, holds a roundtable discussion with working women at the East Side Library in Des Moines, Iowa. Later, Obama holds a town hall meeting in Sioux City.
* Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, will hold a press conference at the State House Legislative Office Building in Concord, New Hampshire. McCain will hold a meet and greet later in the day at Village Perk Coffee Shop in Meredith. McCain will end his day on the trail in the Granite State with a house party in Moultonborough.
* Former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards makes a campaign announcement in Des Moines, Iowa. Later, Edwards holds town hall meetings in Sioux City, Carroll and Jefferson.
* Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney will meet with local area voters at Freshwater Farms in Atkinson, New Hampshire. The GOP candidate will then hold a "Ask Mitt Anything" town hall event at Nottingham West Elementary School in Hudson.
* Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee is on the trail in New Hampshire today with a speech at the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon.
* Former Sen. Fred Thompson, R-Tennessee, will reveal his "Save Social Security and Protect Seniors" plan in Washington, DC in the afternoon.
* Sen. Joe Biden, D-Delaware, and Sen. Chris Dodd, D-Connecticut, attend a fundraiser at the Dancing Lion in Oelwein, Iowa.
* Sen. Chris Dodd, D-Connecticut, holds an Iowa Democratic Party Veterans Caucus press conference at the State Capitol in Des Moines, Iowa.
* The Senate Radio-Television Correspondents' Gallery Daybook
* The House Radio-Television Correspondents' Gallery Daybook