The CNN Election Express on location in St. Petersburg.
ST. PETERSBURG, Florida (CNN)– The CNN Election Express is in Florida. That’s where the Republican presidential candidates will face off this Wednesday in a CNN YouTube debate.
While Florida’s long played an important role in general election in the race for the White House (remember the Florida recount in 2000), this time around it’s also playing a larger role in the primary process. That’s because the Sunshine State moved up the date of its primary to late January.
Right now Senator Hillary Clinton of New York is the front runner in polls in Florida in the battle for the Democratic presidential nomination. In surveys of Republican voters in Florida, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani’s on top.
The CNN Election Express just made a cross country trip. Dale Fountain drove the bus to Florida from Las Vegas, where CNN hosted a Democratic presidential debate on November 15th.
Click here to see CNN's new political portal: CNNPolitics.com
– CNN Deputy Political Director Paul Steinhauser
Romney campaigned through New Hampshire on Saturday.
DERRY, New Hampshire (CNN) – Following his "Ask Mitt Anything" event in Amherst, Mitt Romney told voters and reporters that presidential candidates should refrain from discussing with young people their early life "indiscretions."
The former Massachusetts Governor's statements were a response to Sen. Barack Obama's visit to a Manchester high school Tuesday where he told students he was a "goof off" in high school and had experimented with drugs and alcohol.
"I agree with the sentiment that nobody's perfect and most of us, if not all of us, in our youthful years have engaged in various indiscretions we wouldn't want to have paraded in the front of a newspaper," Romney said. "On the other hand if we're running for president, I think it's important for us not to go into details about the weaknesses and our own failings as young people for the concern that we open kids thinking that it's ok for them."
Romney told the crowd that he would subscribe to President Bush's strategy of handling matters of poor judgment from one's youth.
"He said when he was young and irresponsible, he was young and irresponsible, and he left it at that," Romney said of the President, "And I think that in order to leave the best possible example for our kids, we're probably wisest not to talk about our own indiscretions in great detail."
Following the event, Romney participated in the Derry parade, where he greeted locals, one by one for a one and half mile stretch.
–CNN New Hampshire Producer Sareena Dalla
Giuliani is scheduled to spend the weekend campaigning in New Hampshire.
(CNN)–Rudy Giuliani will receive the endorsement Saturday of Mayor Frank Guinta of Manchester, New Hampshire on Saturday according to the New Hampshire Union Leader.
The paper said the announcement was scheduled 2:30pm eastern at Manchester City Hall, and that Guinta would be named campaign co-chairman for the state of New Hampshire.
Guinta was quoted in the paper as saying that as a fellow mayor, "I can identify with [Giuliani] on those things that are most important to people, making the city safer and stronger and continuing a vibrant economy. That record is what we need in the White House, and he is the individual who is most capable" of winning the general election.
New Hampshire, with its status as the first state to hold a primary, plays an important role in the presidential nominating contest. New Hampshire Secretary of State, Bill Gardner, announced earlier this week that the primary would be held on January 8, 2008.
Giuliani was scheduled to spend the weekend campaigning in New Hampshire.
– CNN Political Desk Editor Jamie Crawford
Romney criticized Giuliani's fiscal record as New York mayor
AMHERST, New Hampshire (CNN)–With rival Rudy Giuliani also spending the weekend in the Granite State, Mitt Romney called the former New York mayor a "friend," but said he said he "left a bit of a problem" in New York City by leaving a three billion dollar deficit.
"Mayor Giuliani is a friend of mine, I think he is a good man, the former Massachusetts governor said. "And I know he did a good job as mayor of New York City, but on spending and fiscal matters, they left a bit of a problem there, because when he came in, there was a budget gap, but when he left, he left a budget gap twice as big as the one he inherited – over three billion dollars."
He also threw a compliment to current New York mayor Michael Bloomberg. "Mayor Bloomberg has said he's not going to leave a deficit like that to the person who follows him, and by the way, that three billion dollars does not include the cost of 9/11. And so we need to have in my view someone in Washington that will reign in spending and say enough is enough."
Campaigning alongside Romney, were New Hampshire Senator Judd Gregg, and Romney's son, Craig.
This is the first of five stops Romney will make Saturday. He continues on to Derry, Bow, Goffstown, and Nashua.
Sen. McCain and his mother, Roberta.
(CNN)–Santa Claus and presidential politics came together Friday in New Hampshire, when GOP hopeful, Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, and his mother attended a luncheon in Bedford, to kick off this year's 'Santa Fund,' sponsored by the New Hampshire Union Leader newspaper.
McCain attended the luncheon with his mother, Roberta. She donated $1,000 to the fund.
According to the paper, the 'Santa Fund' is a drive for the Salvation Army to help provide toys, food, and warm clothing for New Hampshire families in need during the holiday season.
With New Hampshire's position as the first primary in the presidential nominating contest, the paper will also soon draw the eyes of many in the political world, when it makes an endorsement for the January 8, 2008 primary.
Sen. Clinton announced a toy safety agenda Friday.
WASHINGTON (CNN) – On one of the biggest shopping days of the year and the historical start of the Christmas shopping season, Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-New York, announced a toy safety agenda she would implement if elected to the White House.
“As the holiday shopping season begins, our government should be taking immediate action, decisive steps to ensure that the toys we are importing from China and other countries are safe,” Clinton said in a statement released Friday.
While Clinton noted many recent recalls of toys manufactured in China, the Democratic White House hopeful also placed responsibility on American companies that purchase toys from China and other countries. “They have to do a better job at every stage of the process, from design through production and shipping, to make sure that the toys they are bringing into this country – and profiting from – do not pose risks to children,” Clinton’s statement said.
Clinton’s toy safety agenda includes imposing obligations on American companies that import toys; requiring independent, third-party testing of toys; increasing the number of product inspectors; instituting a complete ban on lead in products intended for children; and increasing enforcement of civil and criminal penalties for violations of consumer product safety laws.
– CNN Associate Producer Martina Stewart
Watch Mark Halperin discuss the presidential candidates with American Morning's John Roberts.
(CNN) - As we head into the holiday season, Time Magazine political analyst Mark Halperin has a few suggested additions for the wish lists of the top presidential contenders.
With Republicans, fellow Democrats and certain segments of the media all coming after New York Sen. Hillary Clinton, Halperin thinks she should wish for a “suit of armor.”
“She’s the most likely next president of the United States, but she needs a hard shell for the next few weeks,” said Halperin in an interview with CNN’s John Roberts.
Halperin went on to say that Sen. Barack Obama needs “magic fairy dust” for a victory in one of the next Democratic debates in order to show voters that he is a better candidate than Sen. Clinton. As for John Edwards, he needs to hope that Sens. Clinton and Obama “knock each other out” in order for him to sneak up and win the nomination.
Halperin recommended a puppy for Republican presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani. “When the times get tough….he wants people to think of him as a soft and cuddly guy,” said Halperin. Lastly, Halperin suggested that former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee should wish for “hard cash” in order to maintain a competitive edge against “guys with tens of millions dollars.”
– CNN’s Emily Sherman
Fred Thompson tries some moose chilli at a gun store in New Hampshire Friday.
BRISTOL, New Hampshire (CNN) – Just one day after Thanksgiving, Fred Thompson said he was thankful for being in the Granite state and for being in the company of those who favor the second amendment.
"In this primary we need to remember that those rights are always an issue," the former Senator from Tennessee said. "And some of my opponents have bad records or no records and I have a solid record in support of the second amendment."
This marks the second time Thompson has held a gun related campaign stop in New Hampshire, a decision that speaks to Thompson's efforts to court a conservative pro-second amendment constituency.
"I think its kind of a forgotten issue right now because Democrats are not making much of an issue out of it. They were against gun rights for a long time and they paid for it at the polls," Thompson continued: I don't think the American people think that taking guns out of the hands of law-abiding citizens makes for a safer America. Just the opposite."
Thompson reiterating his record and commitment to supporting gun owner organizations while in Congress. He also shared his personal ties commenting that he had once owned his own skeet shoot.
While making a tour of the Granite state gun shop, Thompson purchased a pair of purple gloves for his four year old daughter and a shirt for himself that read, "Skip's Gun and Sport Shop: Daycare for Men." He also took a moment to try some "Moose Chili" prepared by a local Granite state gun owner who had shot the moose last year.
Related: Supreme Court to rule on gun ownership rights