Mitt Romney is facing criticism from the Log Cabin Republicans Thursday.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney is once again facing fire from a gay Republican group, which announced Thursday it will launch a radio ad in New Hampshire questioning the presidential hopeful’s fiscal conservative credentials.
The 60-second ad from the Log Cabin Republicans focuses on Romney’s record on taxes, claiming that as governor he promised to balance the Massachusetts budget without raising taxes, but reneged on that pledge – a move they say had an impact on some New Hampshire residents who work in the Bay State. They said the ad will run in the Manchester and Portsmouth-Dover-Rochester radio markets.
“Mitt-Flops,” states the narrator.
“Sounds like something you'd wear to the beach, but they could cost you…. Romney even refused to support the Bush tax cuts. Now? He’s seen the light on tax cuts. Do you believe this conversion?” The spot ends with a clip of Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry, and the tagline: “Mitt Romney – just another Massachusetts flip-flopper.”
ST. PETERSBURG, Florida (CNN) - Fresh from the previous night’s CNN/YouTube debate, Sen. John McCain spoke with reporters about the experience Thursday morning. He said he was pleased with the reviews but joked that he encourages his staff to only show him the good ones.
He discussed the primary calendar, saying about the current system, “it’s crazy, it’s way too compressed and we’ve got to sit down and fix it,” adding the threat of congressional action if the parties can’t agree on improvements. The Arizona senator stressed the need for a longer primary season to give candidates more scrutiny before the parties’ conventions.
McCain also focused on his continued disagreement with fellow presidential candidate Mitt Romney about the use of waterboarding as an interrogation technique. The senator strongly opposes the practice, which he defines as torture and contrary to the Geneva Conventions.
- CNN’s Wes Little
Clinton leads in a new poll out of Florida.
ST. PETERSBURG, Florida (CNN) - It appears that a majority of Florida Democrats want Hillary Clinton to be their party’s presidential nominee.
Fifty-one percent of likely Democratic Florida primary voters support the New York senator in a new CNN/Opinion Research Corporation Poll out Thursday.
That’s 30 points ahead of her nearest rival in the Sunshine State, Senator Barack Obama of Illinois.
“Hillary Clinton has a big lead in Florida, but there is evidence that the race may change dramatically in the Sunshine State after Iowa and New Hampshire have their say,” says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. “If the election were held today, Clinton would get support from 51% of Democratic likely voters, to 21% for Obama and 11% for Edwards.”
The Iowa caucuses, which kick off the presidential primary voting, will be held on January 3, five weeks from today. Florida will hold its primary on January 29. The state moved up its primary date to become more of a player in the presidential primary process, but it did so without permission from the national Democratic and Republican parties.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Nearly 5 million viewers tuned in to watch the CNN/YouTube Republican presidential debate Wednesday night, making it the highest rated primary debate in cable news history.
A total of 4.9 million viewers watched the Republican candidates square off – 4.4 million on CNN and 500,000 on CNN Headline News, which simulcast the debate.
CNN’s Democratic presidential debate at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas two weeks ago is the second highest-rated debate in history, with 4 million total viewers.
With five weeks to go before the first wave of voters weigh in at the polls, the historic television audiences seem to indicate a growing interest in what have shaped up to be wide-open primary contests in both parties.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Republican presidential hopeful Rudy Giuliani has called a story raising questions about the accounting of his security expenses while he was mayor of New York a "hit job."
Late Wednesday, Politico.com reported city records show Giuliani billed New York City government offices for at least $34,000 in security and travel costs on trips to the Hamptons in his last year in office, with charges spread around departments under his control.
In its report, which Giuliani says might have been fueled by opposition research, Politico said it obtained the records through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request. CNN was also able to obtain the same records.
"I thought the way the story was presented was like a hit job," Giuliani told CNN after the CNN/YouTube debate Wednesday night.
"Coming two hours before this debate, I kind of got the idea that it was not a legitimate story."
Paul is apparently spending serious money on direct mail in South Carolina.
COLUMBIA, South Carolina (CNN) - Ron Paul and his grassroots supporters may dominate the Internet, but in South Carolina, the Texas congressman is pretty close to dominating the snail mail game as well.
Well-funded former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, who has dropped at least seven mail pieces as counted by CNN, seems to have sent out more direct mail than any other candidate in this early primary state. But in recent weeks the Paul campaign has sent out at least five very large, very polished pieces of mail to potential GOP primary voters.
One of them is a 12-page mailer, already released in New Hampshire, that folds out to be nearly three feet long.
All of the South Carolina mailings go straight for the jugular on issues important to the Republican base: abortion, illegal immigration, social security, and fiscal responsibility. (Paul's mail also delves into the libertarian's favorite topic – defending the Constitution.)
His abortion mailer features a large photo of a smiling baby and reads: "Dr. Ron Paul is more than pro-life. He is the essence of all that it stands for." The illegal immigration brochure pledges "to end immigration nonsense" and fight "amnesty." His economy mailer touts his record fighting "the tax and spend crowd" in Washington.
But the detailed, fold-out mailings seem to carefully avoid the one position that truly puts him at odds with his Republican rivals: his repeated calls to immediately remove U.S. combat forces from Iraq.
The 12-page Paul mailer promises "protection and peace without nation building" but avoids any reference to Iraq, hinting that the campaign—at least in paid media—may be reluctant to bring up the congressman’s stance on Iraq in a state where support for the war remains relatively strong.
- CNN South Carolina Producer Peter Hamby
Clinton won a big union endorsement Thursday.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Hillary Clinton was endorsed by the Amalgamated Transit Union Thursday.
The ATU represents 180,000 bus drivers, light rail operators, maintenance workers and other transit employees in 46 states.
In a written statement, the ATU said it would work to educate its members about the New York senator's campaign and "mobilize its U.S. members and their families in the early primary states in support of her nomination."
- CNN Political Assignment Editor Katy Byron
Giuliani criticizes the leading Democrats in a new TV ad.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - In a new television ad touting his record as New York City mayor, Republican presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani takes a swipe at Democratic candidates, saying they're sure to raise taxes once they reach the Oval Office.
"I know that reducing taxes produces more revenues. Democrats don't know that," Giuliani says in the ad, titled "Promise", which begins airing in New Hampshire and Boston television markets Thursday. He said Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, John Edwards have promised to raise taxes.
"The only thing I can tell you in addition to that is they'll raise taxes even more than they promise," says Giuliani.
- CNN Political Assignment Editor Katy Byron
(CNN) – In this video clip, watch CNN’s John Roberts interview former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee and Huckabee supporter Chuck Norris. The martial arts expert explained how he came to support the Republican presidential candidate. “Mike is a guy who means what he says and says what he means,” Norris told Roberts. “That’s why I jumped on the campaign trail with him.”
Huckabee brushed aside attacks against him by rival Mitt Romney telling Roberts “I’m going to let him say whatever he wants.” “I’m running for president. I’m not running against these other guys.”
Despite Huckabee’s good-natured outlook on his opponent’s jabs, Norris suggested Huckabee can take the rough-and-tumble of presidential politics. “We did some martial arts together and this guy’s tough,” said Norris. “He hung in there with me,” he added.
Huckabee also spoke with Roberts about his views on illegal immigration and his thoughts on the YouTube debate format.
Related video: Huckabee impresses Norris
–CNN Associate Producer Martina Stewart
WASHINGTON (CNN) - As the debate banter went back and forth between Republican presidential contenders in Wednesday night’s CNN/YouTube debate, 24 undecided Republican voters had a unique opportunity to express their views on the candidates in real time. In each of these video clips, a line graph displays the voters’ reaction. The yellow line represents the 12 women in the group and the blue represents the 12 men.
Watch the reactions:
- CNN's Martina Stewart and Emily Sherman