WASHINGTON (CNN) – The Congressional Black Caucus Political Education & Leadership Institute will announce Monday that its Democratic Presidential Debate will be held January 21, the nationally recognized holiday honoring Martin Luther King, Jr.
The event will be broadcast live from Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, by CNN, CNN International, CNN Radio, and the network’s other platforms.
“It is fitting this final South Carolina Democratic Presidential debate will take place on the day South Carolina and the nation honor Martin Luther King, Jr.,” said House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn, D-South Carolina. “South Carolina’s primary will be the first test of the candidates in a state where nearly half of the Democratic primary voters could be African Americans.”
McCain speaks to veterans.
BOSCAWEN, New Hampshire (CNN) – Speaking to hundreds at a Granite state veterans ceremony, Arizona Sen. John McCain paid tribute to veterans and thanked the large crowd for supporting those who are currently serving the
"The war in Iraq sadly has divided America," said McCain. "But none of us are divided in our appreciation and our love and affection for those men and women in our military who are serving the cause of freedom."
McCain continued by sharing a personal story of his time in a North Vietnamese prison camp as a prisoner of war. He described a friendship with another POW, Mike Christian, who was beaten for sewing an American flag into his uniform.
"Mike Christian fashioned himself a bamboo needle and got himself a piece of white cloth and a piece of red cloth and sewed on the inside of his shirt the American flag. Every evening in that prison cell we would stand and put Mike Christian's shirt on the wall of our cell and say the pledge of allegiance," McCain told the crowd.
"Pledging allegiance was the most important part of our day," McCain continued.
The Vietnamese guards discovered the shirt and Christian was beaten. The same night Christian made another American flag.
"He wasn't doing that because it made him feel better. He was doing that because he knew how important it was to us, to pledge our allegiance and our love and our faith and our confidence and our futures in that great flag which is the symbol of this great nation."
McCain's story struck a chord with the crowd of older veterans, a key demographic of his campaign, many of whom agree with his conviction to stay the course in Iraq. McCain said of young Americans currently at war: "We will be inspired by them and we will know at the end of the day that they have carried on the tradition and inspiration of those who went before us. "
–CNN New Hampshire Producer Sareena Dalla
The CNN Election Express on location near the Colorado-Utah border Sunday.
ONBOARD THE CNN ELECTION EXPRESS (CNN)– We’re out in the middle of the rugged desert in southeastern Utah. I can’t give a town as a locator, because there’s no town for miles around. Grand County is the best I can do.
Utah is considered the most Republican state in the country. President Bush grabbed 72% of the vote here in 2004. The governor and both senators and two of the state’s three house members are Republicans. The last time the Democrats won this state in a presidential election was 1964.
Mormons make up just over 60 percent of Utah’s population.
We started this morning in Grand Junction, Colorado. After a couple of live reports by CNN Senior Political Analyst Bill Schneider for our domestic and international networks, we packed up and headed west.
We’re on the road to Las Vegas, where CNN and the Nevada Democratic Party will put on Thursday night’s presidential debate. The national party made Nevada more of player in the presidential primary calendar, moving the state’s caucuses up to mid January. Nevada’s growing Latino population and its large union workforce are two reasons why the Democrats made the move.
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– CNN Deputy Political Director Paul Steinhauser
(CNN) - With less than three months before the presidential primary, a new Florida poll shows Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Rudy Giuliani with strong leads over their rivals.
The St. Petersburg Times/Bay News 9 poll shows Clinton with a 24-point lead over her closest competitor, Barack Obama. This lead may be difficult to close in on, since most of the Democrats are not actively campaigning in Florida after the conflict over Florida’s early presidential primary.
Clinton is overwhelming favored with 48 percent, compared to 24 percent for Barack Obama. Eight percent favored former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards and four percent supported Joe Biden.
Among Republican voters, Giuliani leads with 17-points, while former Tennessee Sen. Fred Thompson slipped in numbers. The poll showed him in fifth place with 8 percent support, behind former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, with 9 percent, Arizona Sen. John McCain with 12 percent, Mitt Romney with 19 percent and Giuliani with 36 percent.
The telephone poll of 800 registered Florida voters was conducted from Nov. 4-7. The margin of error was plus or minus 5.3 percentage points for the Democratic primary poll and 5.5 percentage points for the Republican primary poll.
– CNN Political Assignment Editor Marissa Muller
Mike Huckabee says value voters have coalesced around his campaign.
DURHAM, New Hampshire (CNN) – Following a five kilometer morning run at the University of New Hampshire Saturday, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee told students and reporters that while there may be division among evangelical leaders, there is no division among the "grassroots rank and file."
This statement comes after three key endorsements this week to three separate presidential candidates: Sen. Sam Brownback to John McCain, Christian Coalition founder, Pat Robertson to New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani and Donald Wildmon of the American Family Association for Huckabee.
Huckabee remains a "dark horse" in the republican field but his campaign has gained traction by growing support among the hotly contested social conservative voting block. Huckabee points to his performance in the three Value Voters straw polls as an indication that he has a solid command over the key demographic.
"Among the troops, there is no division, there is a clear consensus and they have coalesced around me," Huckabee said. "Some of the people who are the heads of organizations are scattered but their people aren't. Frankly when it gets down to it, having the people is going to be more important than having the leader." He then added, "If I have the choice between one leader and 50 thousand followers, I'll take the 50 thousand followers any day."
Huckabee also told reporters he wished he had received Pat Robertson's endorsement and and was surprised that he had given his backing to New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani.
"That was a real surprise and it apparently surprised a lot of his supporters as well," Huckabee, a former pastor said. "There was a lot of anger directed towards Pat and feeling like he had abandoned core principles that he had always adhered to, but you know it's his choice and I respect it, wish I could have had his endorsement but didn't. But again, I'll take his people any day."
– CNN New Hampshire Producer Sareena Dalla
Rudy Giuliani campaigns in Colorado on Saturday.
(CNN) - Leading Republican presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani criticized Hillary Clinton Saturday in Colorado for being indecisive on illegal immigration and Iraq.
“It is the whole shifting positions of Hillary Clinton, which I think has now caught up to her. Hillary Clinton has been doing this for a long time. The driver’s license answer merely displayed what has been going on with Hillary Clinton throughout this entire campaign. She cannot take a position and stick with it,” said Giuliani at a campaign stop in Loveland, Colorado.
“And if you want to go back, you can track six different positions on Iraq and that is a very serious matter,” added Giuliani.
Giuliani was interrupted by 9/11 conspiracy theorists who accused Giuliani of having prior knowledge of the attack on the World Trade Center. As one protester was escorted from the Loveland Coffee Company by police, others continued chanting and carrying signs reading, “911 was an inside job.”
Giuliani dismissed the protesters as being small in number. “After being mayor for eight years, I would consider this kind of a minor four or five person protest. It doesn’t compare to anything I have faced in the past,” said Giuliani.
– CNN Political Desk Editor Marissa Muller
Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona.
(CNN)–GOP White House hopeful John McCain says the indictment of former New York City police commissioner Bernard Kerik raises questions about the judgment in character of fellow rival, and former Kerik boss, Rudy Giuliani.
Speaking on 'Fox News Sunday,' McCain said he was not suggesting the former New York mayor knew of any wrongdoing on Kerik's part, "but I would hope that it would have been taken into consideration by Rudy that Mr. Kerik went over to Iraq, was assigned the task force of the Iraqi police, obviouslyleft after a short period of time, and the Iraqi police effort was in total collapse," the Arizona senator said.
Kerik served as an advisor to the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq in 2003, and was tasked with helping oversee the training of the Iraqi police force.
McCain also sought to highlight his national security credentials, over his rivals for the Gop nomination. "I am friends with Rudy Giuliani. I respect him," McCain said. "But the fact is that I'm the only one of the top three [GOP candidates] with any national security experience. Any. I've been involved in national security issues for the last 20 years. I was in the military for 22 years before that. I know these issues. I was involved in them ranging from the Cuban missile crisis to the issues we face today. That's what my qualifications are, and I think they're certainly - it's well to point out that neither Governor Romney nor Mayor Giuliani have any national security experience."
McCain also expressed disbelief over Christian conservative leader Pat Robertson's endorsement earlier in the week of Giuliani. "I'm not often rendered speechless. I certainly was at this event," he said. "I'm still surprised by it, and I will continue to be surprised by it for probably as long as I live."
McCain received the endorsement of former GOP candidate, Senator Sam Brownback, R-Kansas, this past week.
– CNN Political Desk Editor Jamie Crawford
Huckabee responds to the indictment of former NYC police commissioner Bernard Kerik .
DURHAM, New Hampshire (CNN) – While many in the Republican race see the indictment of former New York City police commissioner Bernard Kerik as an opportunity to pounce on national Republican frontrunner, Rudy Giuliani, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee is steering clear from the debate.
"I don't think it's fair to ascribe to a candidate something that someone he knows did," Huckabee told reporters Saturday after his five kilometer race at the University of New Hampshire.
"I know the easy thing for me to do would be to pounce on him and say 'oh yeah,' but you know what if I'm going to hold everybody accountable for something their friends did, none of us would be standing when it's over."
The CNN Election Express stops at the Vail Pass for live reports as they head toward Las Vegas.
ON BOARD THE CNN ELECTION EXPRESS (CNN)– We’re on the road to Las Vegas. That’s where CNN and the Nevada Democratic Party will hold a presidential debate this Thursday.
We’re riding the CNN Election Express, stopping along the way as we pass through the Rocky Mountains towards Las Vegas. We started this trip in Denver, along side the state capitol. The Democrats are holding their presidential convention in the Mile High City next summer. Setting aside California, it’s been 80 years since the Democrats held a convention west of Chicago, and they are coming here for good reason.
Colorado has a Democratic governor and a Democratic controlled state legislature for the first time in 40 years. “I think Colorado is absolutely a state that the Democratic Party could win,” says Colorado Governor Bill Ritter. He continues, saying “Bill Clinton won it in 1992. No Democrat has won it since, but we are in a different place than we have been in recent elections.”
And it’s not just Colorado. Democrats made major gains throughout the Rocky Mountain states. They’ve picked up four House seats, two Senate seats and three Governorships in the past two elections.
“I would say there’s a four state area, Colorado, Nevada, Arizona, and New Mexico, that truly are going to be up for grabs in the presidential election and some others as well could be surprises,” says Arizona’s Democratic Governor, Janet Napolitano. “So when you combine those electoral votes if you’re looking at the map and how to get to that magic number to be elected as president, there’s a big clump of votes out there to get,” she adds.
The Mountain West’s population is growing and changing. Many residents now come from the East and West coasts and there’s a growing Latino population. But it’s not just California transplants and East Coast retirees who are changing the nature of politics here. It is concern within the natural constituency of the Republican Party that there is a threat to the things that make this region special. Increased oil and gas drilling has sportsmen and ranchers worried about quality of life issues.
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Clinton says it's time to "turn up the heat" on Republicans.
DES MOINES, Iowa (CNN) - Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton says she's "turning up the heat" on the Republicans, taking aim at the party numerous times in her speech at the Iowa Democratic Party's Jefferson Jackson Dinner Saturday.
With what appears to be the beginning of a new campaign slogan for the New York senator, Clinton used the phrase "turn up the heat" to emphasize that Democrats should be launching their attacks on Republicans instead of spending their time looking at "who's up and who's down and who says what about whom."
"We have to ask ourselves, 'what is this election going to be focused on?' Clinton said. "I'll tell you what I want to do. I'm not interested in attacking my opponents. I'm interested in attacking the problems of America, and I believe we should be turning up the heat on the Republicans. They deserve all the heat we can give them."
"You listen to the Republicans who are running this year," Clinton continued. "They see eight more years of George Bush. They see a nine trillion dollar debt and say lets spend trillions more. They see that we had one rush to war, and they say wait why not have one more?"
Clinton said that Americans are "done with Republicans and their failed policies" and added that "Democrats need to decide what [they] are for."
Clinton listed a number of things that she says Republicans are unwilling to "fix," like No Child Left Behind, the growing concern over healthcare, and the environment. After each bullet point, Clinton asked the audience of about 9,000 Iowa Democrats, "What are we going to do?" and each time the throng of Clinton supporters shot back, "Turn up the heat!"
-CNN Iowa Producer Chris Welch