Rep. Ron Paul received an unconventional endorsement from a Nevada brothel owner.
LAS VEGAS, Nevada (CNN) – It isn’t everyday that that a presidential candidate gets an endorsement from a professed pimp, but that’s exactly what has happened to Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas.
Dennis Hof, owner of Nevada’s (in)famous Bunny Ranch brothels and star of the HBO show ‘Cathouse’, has publicly endorsed Paul after hearing him champion states’ rights at a campaign stop. Hof told CNN, “Who knows our state better than us? Who knows anything better than the constituents that live in that state? Nobody. We know. We don’t need big brother, the federal government, telling us what to do.”
Paul, a Libertarian and devout Baptist who does not condone prostitution, is uncomfortable with the unconventional support, according to his campaign. They counter that it is “the price of freedom.” “If you’re going to have a constitutional government, you’re going to work out these kinds of issues at the local level, as the constitution intends. Then sometimes you’re going to have to put up with things that make you uncomfortable.” The campaign added that if Paul were a local Nevada lawmaker that he would vote against legalized prostitution.
Paul has found the spotlight recently after putting up some big fundraising numbers, including a $4.2 million haul in a single day in early November. Hof says he plans to add to that, “The girls are good at shaking down the customers for $1s, $5s, $10s, $50s, $100s, whatever they got.” He is waiting for instructions from the campaign on how to raise and donate the money legally.
Prostitution is legal everywhere in Nevada except for the three counties that are home to Carson City, Reno and Las Vegas.
– CNN Nevada Producer Alexander Marquardt
Cheney is set to undergo a heart procedure Monday afternoon.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Vice President Dick Cheney will undergo a heart procedure Monday afternoon after doctors discovered an irregular heartbeat, his office announced.
Cheney was diagnosed with atrial fibrillation, an irregular heartbeat, when he visited his doctor Monday morning complaining of a lingering cough after a cold. It was then that the arrhythmia was diagnosed, the vice president's office reported.
Doctors described the procedure - intended to shock the heart back into normal rhythm - as routine, and said they expect the vice president to return to his residence Monday night.
The 66-year-old vice president has had a history of heart ailments - including four heart attacks dating back to 1978 - and was briefly hospitalized in January 2006 after suffering shortness of breath.
– CNN White House Correspondent Ed Henry
Richardson said he won't campaign on Christmas.
MOUNT AYR, Iowa (CNN) – Gov. Bill Richardson said Monday he plans to be with his family in New Mexico—and not on the campaign trail—on Christmas Day, a holiday that falls just days before the January 3 Iowa caucus.
The Democratic presidential hopeful began a campaign event by joking with an Iowa audience that the state’s voters may be seeing a few candidates at their Christmas dinners this year.
Asked about whether or not he'd really be pushing for votes on the holiday, Richardson told CNN that Christmas, being a religious holiday, should be private.
"I'm not going to disturb Iowa voters on Christmas," Richardson said. "I'll be here the day before Christmas and the day after, but I think Christmas is [for] family. It's sacred."
The top three Democrats—all locked in a statistical dead heat in recent Iowa polls—have yet to say whether or not they'll campaign on Christmas.
A spokesman with Sen. Barack Obama, D-Illinois, said Obama's schedule for Christmas is still "to be decided," and a spokesman with Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-New York, said they have no answers on her schedule "that far out." Former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards' Iowa spokesman said they are "still working out Edwards' late December schedule."
-CNN Iowa Producer Chris Welch
The Obama and Clinton campaigns are locked in a war of words.
WASHINGTON (CNN) – The campaigns of Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-New York, and Sen. Barack Obama, D-Illinois, began a new war of words Monday over reports that the Illinois senator’s PAC may have directed a majority of its campaign contributions to politicians in the key early nominating states.
"On the campaign trail, Senator Obama is outspoken about his desire to reform the campaign finance system so it was surprising to learn that he has been using his PAC in a manner that appears to be inconsistent with the prevailing election laws," Clinton's campaign said in a statement.
Clinton's campaign said 68 percent of the donations from Obama’s PAC, Hopefund, were given to officials in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina. But Obama spokesman Bill Burton said the majority of the funds were given to candidates outside the early primary states, and to Democrats nationwide facing tough re-election fights.
"The latest personal attack from Hillary Clinton is a completely false attempt to misrepresent Barack Obama’s full disclosure of his campaign finances," Burton said in a statement.
Why aren't the Democrats campaigning in Florida?
ST. PETERSBURG, Florida (CNN) – In the wake of Florida’s decision to move up its primary, and the national Democratic party’s decision to harshly punish the state for that choice, Democratic presidential candidates have so far honored a boycott on campaigning in the state. Republican hopefuls have been more hesitant to punish the important state, with several major candidates campaigning there and all agreeing to appear at the upcoming CNN YouTube debate in St. Petersburg. CNN deputy political director Paul Steinhauser explains.
Clinton received her 19th legislative endorsement in Iowa on Monday.
DES MOINES, Iowa (CNN) – With the top-tier Democratic presidential candidates running neck and neck in Iowa, every local endorsement counts. On Monday, the campaign of Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-New York, added to her haul.
State Representative from District 45 Beth Wessel-Kroeschell said in a statement that she's supporting Clinton based on the "depth and breadth of Sen. Clinton's experience and her knowledge of domestic and international issues."
In July, Wessel-Kroeschell introduced New Mexico governor Bill Richardson at a presidential campaign event in Ames, but held off giving an official nod, saying only "We really do have a strong field of Democratic candidates running for president this year," according to the Iowa State Daily.
Clinton currently holds the lead in Hawkeye State legislative endorsements, at 19. Sen. Barack Obama, D-Illinois, has nabbed 16, and Sen. Joe Biden, D-Delaware, has 14.
Romney had sharp words for Huckabee Monday.
WASHINGTON (CNN) – Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney Monday dismissed rival Mike Huckabee's recent charge that he once stood against Ronald Reagan, and accused the former Arkansas governor of "getting a little desperate."
"I must admit that I find the vision and the direction that Ronald Reagan laid out for this country to be very powerful and very compelling," Romney told CNN's Wolf Blitzer. "I'll tell you, Ronald Reagan would have never raised taxes like Mike Huckabee did, Ronald Reagan would have never said let's give tuition breaks to illegals like Mike Huckabee did, Ronald Reagan would have never stood by and pushed for a budget that more than doubled during his term as president."
"Mike Huckabee as a matter of fact has a very different record than Ronald Reagan, and I'm pretty proud that my record stands up quite well."
Romney's comments come a day after Huckabee assailed Romney's conservative record on CNN's Late Edition, claiming the former Massachusetts governor had changed his positions on abortion rights, same-sex marriage, and gun control.
"He was against Ronald Reagan's legacy and said he wasn't a part of that Bush-Reagan thing, I was a part of that Bush-Reagan thing," Huckabee said of Romney Sunday on CNN's Late Edition.
Meanwhile, in a conference call with reporters Monday, Huckabee brushed aside criticism about his record on taxes - most notably from the anti-tax group Club for Growth.
"If Reagan were running today, the Club for Growth would be running ads against him because he raised taxes by a billion dollars in California, and that was one of the attacks on him when he was running for president," he said.
The back and forth comes shortly after a new ABC News/Washington post poll showed Huckabee trails Romney by just 4 percent among likely GOP caucus-goers in the crucial early-voting state of Iowa. With a margin of error of plus or minus 5 percentage points, the poll suggests the two could be essentially tied.
Watch Wolf Blitzer's full interview with Mitt Romney on The Situation Room, 4-7 p.m. ET.
– CNN Ticker Producer Alexander Mooney
Edwards is out with two new campaign ads Monday. "Born," above, details his upbringing.
COLUMBIA, South Carolina (CNN)– Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards launched two new television ads Monday in Iowa and South Carolina, both of which mirror the campaign's overarching message in each of the two early primary states.
In Iowa, the Edwards campaign launched a populist-themed ad, "Mess," attacking the "corrupt system in Washington" – a phrase that's become a familiar refrain from the Edwards camp in Iowa.
Declaring it "the great moral test of our generation," Edwards says in the 30-second ad that "What we want to make certain is true is that our children have a better life than we've had."
In South Carolina, Edwards hit the airwaves with his third ad to play up his southern roots, a piece of biography the campaign is depending on to pull out a victory in the state, which he won in 2004.
The ad, titled "Born," shows an image of Edwards outside the pink Seneca, South Carolina house where he was born.
"My dad worked in the mills," Edwards says in the ad, also 30 seconds. "When I was born, he had to borrow fifty dollars to bring me home here. When the mills closed, I saw first hand how devastating bad government and corporate greed can be."
Edwards concludes: "I approve this message because growing up here, you never stop fighting. And you never forget where you came from."
– CNN South Carolina Producer Peter Hamby
McCain is aiming to appeal to independents in a new ad out Monday
(CNN) - Sen. John McCain’s campaign released a new ad Monday that ties the Arizona senator’s track record on spending and campaign finance reform with his position on the Iraq war and support for the current surge strategy.
“Since I’ve been in Washington, I’ve made a lot of people angry,” McCain says. “I upset the special interests and Washington lobbyists when I passed campaign finance reform. I made the Pentagon angry when I criticized Rumsfeld’s Iraq strategy, and I upset the media when I supported the strategy that’s now succeeding.” The 60-second spot, “Love America Enough,” is airing statewide in New Hampshire just 44 days before that state’s Jan. 8 primary.
McCain is trailing the front-runner, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, by 15 points in the Granite State, according to the latest in the latest CNN-WMUR-TV poll conducted by the University of New Hampshire Survey Center.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Two Democratic presidential candidates submitted video questions Monday for their Republican counterparts to answer at the CNN/YouTube debate later this week.
Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio, asked in his video post if the candidates support his House resolution calling for the impeachment of Vice President Dick Cheney. "Did Vice President Cheney lie to take us into a war?" he asks. The measure, introduced earlier this month, has attracted nearly two dozen congressional co-sponsors.
Sen. Chris Dodd, D-Connecticut, asked in his YouTube submission if GOP candidates believe Americans should give up their constitutional rights to protect national security.
The CNN/YouTube debate will take place this Wednesday at 8:00pm ET in St. Petersburg, Florida.
– CNN Political Assignment Editor Katy Byron