WASHINGTON (CNN) – Homeland Security Adviser Fran Townsend warned Tuesday that terrorists could launch an attack against the U.S. in 2008, and noted that the Bush administration is already putting in place a plan to ensure there is a smooth transfer of power following the elections.
Townsend told CNN’s John Roberts that there is no “specific threat” the U.S. has picked up, but noted there were attacks in Spain and England around elections in those countries.
“We know that Al Qaeda views these periods as being a particularly vulnerable period,” she said on CNN’s ‘American Morning.’ “We don't have any specific information, but given our experience and what we know, I believe we've got a real obligation to prepare for that transition between the election and the inauguration in a special way.”
Townsend offered this warning as she prepares to leave her job counseling President Bush on homeland security matters.
Related video: Watch Townsend in The Situation Room Monday
– CNN’s Emily Sherman
Sen. Clinton launched a new ad Tuesday.
NEW YORK (CNN) – Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-New York, tells New Hampshire voters she’s the only candidate that can beat the “Republican attack machine” in a new television campaign ad that began running Tuesday in the Granite State.
“Here they go again — the same old Republican attack machine is back,” an announcer says in the ad. “Why? “Maybe it’s because they know that there’s one candidate with the strength and experience to get us out of Iraq.”
Clinton has portrayed herself as the most electable candidate in the Democratic field, and recent polling in the Granite State indicates that a majority of Democratic voters agree. According to a recent CBS News-New York Times poll, 68 percent of likely New Hampshire Democratic voters said they thought Clinton has the best chance of winning the general election.
RNC Spokesman Brian Walton criticized Clinton for the ad and said she holds political rivals responsible for her problems.
“Throughout her career Senator Clinton has time and time again blamed political opponents for her problems,” Walton said. “With Senator Clinton’s campaign in freefall it is no surprise that she would resort to the same tired excuses.”
–CNN Associate Producer Lauren Kornreich
Sen. Obama announces his education reform plan in New Hampshire Tuesday.
MANCHESTER, New Hampshire (CNN) – Sen. Barack Obama spent the day traveling the Granite State unveiling his education plan. Here’s how the day kicked off:
7:45 AM: Leave my hotel room en route to Manchester Central High School.
8:150-8:30 AM: Desperately search for parking on the street. I won't be back until 10:30PM, and all the street spaces are two-hour metered parking. I end up negotiating a spot with the convenience store across the street from the school. Thank you!
8:30-9 AM: Press members gather in the filing room. The Obama campaign supplies a healthy breakfast.
9 AM: Manchester Central High School. The press waits in the filing room until 9:04 AM. Then we’re escorted into the main hall, speech begins soon thereafter.
9:09 AM: First signs of snow flurries!
9:15 AM: Obama rolls out his plan to improve the American education system. He says the current system is "morally unacceptable for our children," and he discusses his own story. "Even though my mother didn't have a lot of money, scholarships gave me the chance to go to some of the best schools in the country." He continues, "I want to give every American child the same chances that I had." His plan includes: reforming No Child Left Behind, instituting affordable early education, actively recruiting and developing teachers through training and rewarding incentives, and developing new metric assessments to better assess and measure learning.
9:46 AM: Speech ends. Snow is falling hard now.
– CNN New Hampshire Producer Sareena Dalla
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Iowa’s senior Republican lawmaker says he believes that former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney will win the Iowa caucuses.
Sen. Chuck Grassley also predicts that former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee will place second and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani will finish third in the caucuses. Romney is the leader in most state polls in Iowa, with Huckabee in second place. Grassley is not endorsing any Republican candidates in the caucuses.
The longtime senator made his comments during a discussion Tuesday with reporters in Iowa. The Iowa caucuses will be held on January 3rd, and will kick off the presidential primary season.
– CNN Deputy Political Director Paul Steinhauser
Ruben Navarette, Jr: Some in denial over immigration issues.
SAN DIEGO, California (CNN) - Score one for the knee-jerk naysayers. You know the type: those who find it easier to criticize proposed solutions to tough problems than to propose solutions of their own, which then could be criticized.
Faced with the problem of what to do with thousands of illegal immigrants who drive on state roadways every day to go to work for people who insist with a straight face that they want nothing to do with illegal immigrants, New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer proposed a controversial, yet terribly sensible, plan to give the undocumented a state-issued driver's license that would be easily discernible from licenses carried by U.S. citizens and legal residents.
The plan hit roadblocks with the extremes, on the right and the left - which is always a good sign. But the criticism kept mounting. And now Spitzer has put the brakes on the plan after a brief but intense debate.
Correction. It wasn't really a debate. It was the rhetorical equivalent of a food fight in which pragmatism and common sense took a back seat to name-calling, fear-mongering and misrepresentation of fact - with a dash of racism.
Sen. McCain campaigned in Concord, New Hampshire last week.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Republican presidential candidate Sen. John McCain is betting heavily on the New Hampshire primary, hoping his muscular approach to national security will appeal to the state's Republican voters.
To win in the New Hampshire primary, McCain needs the support of the Independent voters who helped him win in 2000, many of whom are wary of his support of the Iraq war.
"Most Republicans support the war. Most Independents don't," CNN senior political analyst Bill Schneider said. "Any gains McCain makes with Republicans on the war are likely to be negated by losses among Independents."
If he fails to strike that delicate balance the Arizona Republican may have to cash in his chips and go home in January.
Huckabee has picked up another endorsement from a celebrity strong man.
COLUMBIA, South Carolina (CNN) – In the race for presidential endorsements, Mike Huckabee has the kitschy pop culture celebrity vote on lockdown.
First it was martial arts hero and "Walker, Texas Ranger" star Chuck Norris, who appears with Huckabee in his first TV ad.
Then hard-rocking hunting enthusiast Ted Nugent jumped on the Huckabee bandwagon, citing the Republican's support for second amendment rights.
Now, Huckabee is getting ready to rumble: wrestler Ric Flair, a.k.a. The Nature Boy, is supporting the former Arkansas governor in his bid for the White House.
CNN has learned the WWE wrestler is on board with Huckabee, and will co-host a campaign tailgate with the candidate at the South Carolina vs. Clemson football game on Saturday afternoon in Columbia, South Carolina. More details are forthcoming.
– CNN South Carolina Producer Peter Hamby
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Less than two months before Iowans cast the first votes of the 2008 election cycle, the Democratic race in the Hawkeye State is still a toss up, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News Poll released Monday.
Sen. Barack Obama, D-Illinois, is in the lead with 30 percent support from likely Iowa voters, followed closely by Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-New York, who earned 26 percent. Former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards got 22 percent and New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson earned 11 percent.
Clinton, the national frontrunner, has seen her lead drop on some key fronts, according to the poll. In July, 50 percent of Iowans thought she had the best experience to be president, but in the poll released Monday, 38 percent said they thought she did. Despite that, 39 percent said they still thought she is the most electable candidate, with Obama in second in that category with 25 percent.
The Washington Post-ABC News poll was conducted from November 14-18. The poll surveyed 500 Iowans and had a margin of error of 4 percentage points.
–CNN Associate Producer Lauren Kornreich
COLUMBIA, South Carolina (CNN) - Here's a (very) quick look at what's making political news in South Carolina this Tuesday morning:
The day after a new Iowa poll showed Barack Obama overtaking Hillary Clinton and John Edwards in Iowa, Michelle Obama visits South Carolina State University in Orangeburg and will hold a rally at Dreher High School in Columbia.
Wrestler Ric Flair will appear with Mike Huckabee at a campaign tailgate this Saturday at the Clemson-South Carolina game.
And Michael Bloomberg may soon be in South Carolina ... but not for reasons you might think.
– 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…
Thompson skids while Romney, Paul climb in N.H. poll
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Former Tennessee Sen. Fred Thompson has skidded into sixth place in a new CNN/WMUR poll of likely Republican voters in New Hampshire, edged out by ex-Libertarian and anti-war congressman Ron Paul and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee.
Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney topped the poll, widening a lead he has held for months in neighboring New Hampshire, while Arizona Sen. John McCain and former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani were running close in the second and third spots. Full Story
Obama cites childhood in helping shape world view
CLARION, Iowa (CNN) - Presidential hopeful Barack Obama told an audience Monday that some of his strongest foreign relations experience comes from having spent four years of his childhood in Indonesia, and having family ties to Kenya.
After first mentioning that as a senator he's had "frequent interactions with world leaders" on fact-finding missions across the globe, the Illinois Democrat added, "But you know, probably the strongest experience I have in foreign relations is the fact that I spent four years living overseas when I was a child in Asia — Southeast Asia." Full Story
A quartet of general election debates
There hasn’t been a single vote cast yet for president, but the Commission on Presidential Debates announced Monday the schedule for the 2008 general election debates between the Democratic and Republican nominees.
Mark your calendars:
* Presidential debate at University of Mississippi, Oxford, Mississippi - September 26, 2008
* Vice Presidential debate at Washington University, St. Louis, Missouri - October 2, 2008
* Presidential debate, Belmont University, Nashville, Tennessee - October 7, 2008
* Presidential debate, Hofstra University, Hempstead, New York - October 15, 2008
Details: All of the debates will start at 9 p.m. ET, run 90 minutes, and feature a single moderator. The town hall debate on October 7 will also “include any issues raised by the audience.”
Political Hot Topics
(Today's top political stories from news organizations across the country)
Compiled by Lindsey Pope
CNN Washington Bureau
New York Times: Panel Picks 4 Debate Sites, Angering Excluded New Orleans
The Commission on Presidential Debates has picked Oxford, Miss.; St. Louis; Nashville; and Hempstead, N.Y., as the sites of the presidential and vice-presidential debates in the general election campaign next year.
Washington Post: For Democrats, Iowa Still Up for Grabs
The top three Democratic presidential contenders remain locked in a close battle in Iowa, with Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (N.Y.) seeing her advantages diminish on key issues, including the questions of experience and which candidate is best prepared to handle the war in Iraq, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.
New York Times: In Iowa, Democrats Focus on Economy and Experience
Gloomy news about the economy formed a backdrop for the leading Democratic presidential candidates Monday as they intensified their fight over which one had the best experience to lead the nation.
LA Times: Giuliani Is Slammed Twice On Sept. 11 Issues
Rudolph W. Giuliani's image as 9/11 mayor took a double hit Monday as he lost a key endorsement from the Sept. 11 commission chair to a rival, and New York firefighters and families of victims of the terrorist attacks took their campaign against him to New Hampshire.
Chicago Tribune's Clout Street: Edgar Expected To Endorse Giuliani Tuesday
Former Gov. Jim Edgar is expected to endorse the Republican presidential candidacy of Rudy Giuliani on Tuesday, sources close to the former New York mayor’s campaign in Illinois say tonight.
WSJ: Iowa's House of Labor Is Split
Alan Anderson is urging fellow United Steelworkers in Mason City, Iowa, to support John Edwards. Joe Bohl, a cousin who works for the city's water utility, says he and other members of the government employees' union will likely back Sen. Hillary Clinton.
LA Times: Clinton, Obama Clash Over Experience
Amid new polling that points to a shift in momentum in this crucial state, Democratic presidential contenders Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama made arguments Monday that electing the other would prove a costly mistake.
Boston Globe: Richardson Hopes To 'Come In Under The Radar'
Bill Richardson is running an against-the-grain campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination.
DC Examiner: Giuliani Promotes Virtual Fence
Republican presidential contender Rudy Giuliani pushed the idea of a "virtual" rather than a real fence along much of the U.S.-Mexico border on Monday, an issue that's controversial in the Rio Grande Valley where many people oppose construction of a physical fence to stop illegal immigration.
Washington Post: The Specter of Swift Boating
The kerfuffle over the weekend caused by columnist Bob Novak's assertion that Hillary Rodham Clinton's campaign possesses "scandalous information" on Barack Obama, but has decided not to use it, highlights the sensitivity within the party over alleged dirty tricks and the lingering effect of the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth ads in 2004.
NY Daily News: Barack Obama Raps Hillary Clinton For Resume Jabs; Poll Has Him Pulling Ahead
Barack Obama charged Monday that Hillary Clinton acts as if she were a cabinet secretary instead of First Lady when she attacks his resume.
NY Sun: Entry Fee to Obama Visit Could Keep Harlem Fans at Bay
Senator Obama is planning a $50-a-ticket fund-raiser at Harlem's Apollo Theater next week on his first campaign trip to the neighborhood, raising concern among some local supporters that the entry fee will be too pricey for many residents.
Des Moines Register: Grassley: Romney Will Win Caucus
Despite the fact that he won't be endorsing a Republican candidate for the Jan. 3 Iowa Caucuses, Sen. Chuck Grassley said today he believes Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney will win.
Boston Globe: Some Recipients Of Romney's Charity Are Boosting His Bid
Mitt Romney's charitable foundation gave $253,833 to groups helping the needy and to organizations influential in Republican circles last year, while he was laying the groundwork for a presidential campaign, according to tax records.
LA Times: A Gap In GOP Candidates' Healthcare Proposals
Rudy Giuliani, Senator John McCain and Fred Thompson have all offered proposals with the stated aim of helping the 47 million people in the U.S. who have no health insurance, including those with preexisting medical conditions. But under the plans all three have put forward, cancer survivors such as themselves could not be sure of getting coverage…
Des Moines Register: Clinton 'Can't Wait' To Debate Republicans
Acting as if she had already left her Democratic rivals in the dust, Hillary Clinton turned her sights on the Republican presidential candidates Monday morning during an Iowa campaign event.
AP: Former News Anchor Takes Heat For Endorsing Clinton
Carole Simpson, a former ABC news anchor who is now a journalism professor at Emerson College, is on the hot seat after endorsing Hillary Clinton for president at a New Hampshire political rally.
Quad City Times: Edwards Rocks in Q-C
On a day when Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama were in central Iowa arguing over who would be more experienced on the economy, John Edwards brought a pair of near-60 rock ’n’ rollers to Davenport on Monday, arguing he’s the real agent for change.
LA Times: Lawmakers Seek A Cash Advance For Conventions
A stalemate in Washington is holding up money for security at next year's Republican and Democratic conventions and could force Minneapolis-St. Paul and Denver to front tens of millions of dollars, lawmakers warned Monday.
Des Moines Register: Democrats Fret Over Candidates' Bickering
Increasing clashes among the leading Democratic presidential candidates have sparked concern from some caucusgoers and even candidates that the squabbling may weaken the party's chance of victory in the 2008 presidential election.
USA Today: College Criticizes Invitation-Only Political Rallies
A Pennsylvania college that was the scene of a protest against Vice President Cheney is trying to start a movement to ban politicians from holding closed meetings restricted to supporters on all campuses in the nation.
San Francisco Chronicle: California Suing Nebraska Voting Machine Maker For $15 Million
California Secretary of State Debra Bowen sued a Nebraska voting machine company on Monday, seeking fines and reimbursements of nearly $15 million from the firm for allegedly selling nearly 1,000 uncertified machines to San Francisco and four other counties.
Politico: Retirements Push GOP To The Right
The unexpected retirement of Rep. Mike Ferguson (R-N.J.) marks the latest in an exodus of moderate Republicans that is pushing the caucus in a rightward direction and could potentially cripple the party’s chances of winning back seats in swing districts next year.
The Hill: FEC Decision Could Launch Attack Ads, Watchdogs Warn
A group of election-reform advocates fear that a Federal Election Commission (FEC) decision Tuesday could lead to an onslaught of corporate and union-funded attack ads on the eve of the presidential primaries.
On the Trail:
Compiled by Lauren Kornreich and Katy Byron
CNN Washington Bureau
*Sen. Joe Biden, D-Delaware, will hold an energy and environmental presser in Iowa City, IA.
*Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-New York, attends Organizing for Change events at the Shenandoah Volunteer Fire Department Garage in Shenandoah, Iowa and the Chicken Inn in Creston. Clinton will end the day by sharing donated food items and volunteering at the Central Iowa Shelter and Services in Des Moines.
*Former Sen. John Edwards, D-North Carolina, will hold two community meeting events with special performances by Bonnie Raitt and Jackson Browne at Grinnell College in Grinnell, Iowa, and Roosevelt High School in Des Moines.
* Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani will hold a press conference at the Chicago Sheraton Hotel and Towers in Chicago, and then meet with local supporters at the Maple Tree Restaurant in Oak Park, Illinois.
* Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee will take questions from reporters just before a fundraising reception in Tampa, Florida.
* Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio, will make campaign stops in Concord, New Hampshire including a book signing at Gibson's Bookstore in a town hall meeting at Concord High School.
* Sen. Barack Obama, D-Illinois, will deliver a policy speech at Manchester Central High School in Manchester, New Hampshire. Obama will also attend a service event at the New Horizons Food Pantry in Manchester. Obama will spend the remainder of the day holding meet the candidate events at Prospect Mountain High School in Alton, Kennett High School in North Conway, and Memorial Middle School in Laconia.
* Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, will attend a rally for his campaign at Lawlor Events Center at the University of Nevada in Reno, Nevada.
* New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson will hold two health care town halls in New Hampshire - one at Rivier College in Nashua and the other at VFW Post in Derry. He will then hold a "Presidential Job Interview" in Merrimack.
* Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney will give a speech at Des Moines University on health care titled "Stronger America: Expanding Access to Affordable Health Care." Romney will then tour the Skiff Medical Center in Newton, Iowa. The GOP candidate will hold a Jasper County "Ask Mitt Anything" event at The Newton Country Club in Newton.
* Former Sen. Fred Thompson, R-Tennessee, will hold three meet and greet events in Iowa - at De Koffiehoek & Bistro Coffee Shop in Orange City; 4 Brothers Bar & Grill in Le Mars; and Historic Martin Ballroom in Sioux City.
* The Senate Radio-Television Correspondents' Gallery Daybook
* The House Radio-Television Correspondents' Gallery Daybook