McCain in New Hampshire Tuesday comments on Iran.
KEENE, New Hampshire (CNN) – One day after the release of a
four-year-old U.S. intelligence report that said Tehran halted its nuclear program in 2003, Arizona Sen. John McCain warned reporters Tuesday that the Iranians were "still sponsoring terrorist organizations," and "sending dangerous and lethal explosive devices into Iraq."
McCain told the crowd at a Granite State campaign stop that he did not have "inside details" on Iran's nuclear development, but that the intelligence community needed to pay careful attention to the original information that had led to their earlier assessment that Tehran was seeking to develop a nuclear weapon.
"We've had a history of not having the greatest intelligence capability," said the senator, offering mistaken Cold War-era assessments that misled Pentagon planners during the Korean War and the arms race with the Soviet Union as examples. The Iraq war supporter did not mention the intelligence community's most recent failure, its pre-war assessment of Saddam Hussein's weapons program.
The Republican presidential candidate cited a lack of human intelligence on the ground, and remarked on the inability of intelligence agents to "swim into a society" and collect information. He vowed to overhaul the human intelligence system if elected.
–CNN New Hampshire Producer Sareena Dalla
WASHINGTON (CNN) - President Bush is heading to the Mideast early next year to try and seal a peace deal during his final year in office, White House officials confirmed Tuesday night.
"The President will go to the Mideast region in early January,” said National Security Council spokesman Gordon Johndroe, though he would not elaborate on any details of the itinerary.
Israeli TV, however, is reporting that Israel will be one key stop on the trip. A trip to that country would be Bush’s first as president. He did visit Israel once as governor of Texas.
The Mideast swing is the latest addition to what is shaping up to be a busy international travel schedule for the commander in chief as he seeks to chisel out a legacy that extends beyond the war in Iraq; President Bush revealed last Friday that he and First Lady Laura Bush will be heading to Africa early next year.
- CNN White House Correspondent Ed Henry
WASHINGTON (CNN) - The one-time chief of staff to then-Rep. Curt Weldon, R-Pa., has been charged in a criminal conspiracy for failing to disclose income his wife made for doing "little work" at a firm with connections to Weldon's family.
Russell Caso Jr. is charged with a single conspiracy count in a criminal "information," which normally signals a plea agreement and a promise to cooperate with a continuing investigation. Justice Department officials said Caso will appear in court Friday morning.
Documents from U.S. District Court in Washington did not name Weldon nor the firm, which were referred to as "Representative A" and "Firm A."
The documents said Caso's wife received $19,000 from a "non-profit consulting firm" designed to help "American businesses to operate in Russia and facilitating the flow of trade between the United States and Russia."
DES MOINES, Iowa (CNN) - One day after a pro-Mike Huckabee group's 'push polling' efforts were brought to light here in Iowa, fellow Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney is calling for an investigation into their tactics.
In a statement Tuesday, Romney's campaign asked Iowa attorney general Tom Miller to open an investigation of the "allegedly illegal conduct" by Common Sense Issues, a group that launched a series of automated phone calls that target the former Arkansas governor's rivals but praise Huckabee himself.
Romney communications director Matt Rhoades wrote that "relying on the resources of an out-of-state soft money organization to run your ground game is awful politics and voters are right to be annoyed by this kind of conduct.”
Huckabee has denounced the tactics and urged the group to stop the calls.
He told CNN Tuesday that the efforts are hurting him, adding that the calls are "not in the spirit of the kind of campaign that I'm running or want to run."
Obama's campaign denied Clinton allegations of 'dirty tricks.'
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Sen. Barack Obama's presidential campaign is denying a fresh accusation leveled by the campaign of Sen. Hillary Clinton that surrogates for the Illinois Democrat are engaging in "dirty tricks" in Iowa.
Clinton campaign manager Patti Solis Doyle made the charge in a letter to supporters Monday night. "In both Iowa and New Hampshire, we have heard that Obama staffers are berating Hillary supporters on the phone with negative attacks against her," wrote Doyle.
She went on to describe accounts of a negative campaign tactic known as "push polling" - a practice where voters receive phone calls from individuals posing as independent pollsters who instead offer details of negative and sometimes misleading attributes about a particular candidate.
Doyle also said some of Clinton’s Iowa supporters have received calls that direct them to the wrong precinct locations.
In a statement released Tuesday, Obama campaign spokesman Bill Burton called the accusation a "flat-out falsehood."
"Our opponents have promised to stop at nothing in an effort to tarnish Barack Obama's character," Burton continued. "Push polling or tactics of confusion have no place in this campaign and we don't or won't engage in them. Unlike some other campaigns, we want every potential Iowa caucusgoer to participate in the process, no matter who they support."
Tuesday's back-and-forth between the leading Democratic presidential campaigns is the latest in a heightened war of words one month before Iowa voters kick off the presidential primary process.
On Monday, Clinton charged Obama "started running for president the day he arrived in the U.S. Senate," and in his "rush to campaign" has missed key Senate votes.
Obama's campaign hit back, saying he "doesn't need lectures in political courage from someone who followed George Bush to war in Iraq, gave him the benefit of the doubt on Iran, supported NAFTA and opposed ethanol until she decided to run for president."
- CNN Ticker Producer Alexander Mooney
Thompson campaigned in South Carolina Tuesday.
SPARTANBURG, South Carolina (CNN) - Fred Thompson wants the government to keep its hands off your dinner plate.
That's what he told a questioner Tuesday in South Carolina, anyway.
Standing about 15 feet away from a mouth-watering steam tray buffet loaded with fried chicken, creamed corn and macaroni and cheese at Wade's Southern Cooking in Spartanburg, Thompson dismissed the idea that preventative care and wellness education should be central features of a government's health care system.
"I'm telling you, I don’t think that it’s the primary responsibility of the federal government to tell you what to eat," Thompson said to applause when asked if his health care plan included any details on preventative care, a priority for Democratic candidates.
"The fact of the matter is we got an awful lot of knowledge,” said the former Tennessee senator. “Sometimes we don’t have a whole lot of will power, and I don’t know of any government program that's going to instill that."
Thompson, ever a fan of small government, said healthy living should be the responsibilities of families first.
"We shouldn’t be looking at the federal government in Washington first and working our way down, it ought to be just the other way around. With that, or whether you're talking about education, there's some things the federal government can't do," said Thompson.
- CNN South Carolina Producer Peter Hamby
WINDHAM, New Hampshire (CNN) - Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney promised New Hampshire voters on the trail Monday that he and his family would not "embarrass" them if he were elected president.
"I am going to make sure when in the White House that we don't do anything to embarrass the American people," he told Granite State voters at a campaign stop at Windham Junction General Store in Windham, New Hampshire.
Romney was responding to a question about what he would do as president to strengthen and bolster the American family.
- CNN Political Assignment Editor Katy Byron
A federal grand jury has indicted Democratic fund-raiser Norman Hsu in a massive 15-count fraud scheme
NEW YORK (CNN) - A federal grand jury has indicted Democratic fund-raiser Norman Hsu in a massive 15-count fraud scheme, including 12 counts of mail and wire fraud and violating various campaign finance laws, according U.S. Attorney Michael Garcia.
According to the indictment, unsealed Tuesday, Hsu, 56, persuaded his victims to invest at least $60 million in his fund-raising scheme from 2000 to August of this year. Hsu swindled at least $20 million from his investors, according to the unsealed documents.
Hsu had been a top contributor to Democrats, including presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. But their campaigns and others said they have returned Hsu's donations or given them to charity.
Hsu made various donations of over $25,000 and in the names of others to candidates for the U.S. Senate, the U.S. House of Representatives and president, according to the indictment.
Romney campaigned in New Hampshire Tuesday.
WINDHAM, New Hampshire (CNN) - Mitt Romney brushed aside former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee's recent gains in the polls as an "initial infatuation" in an interview with CNN Tuesday on the trail in the Granite State.
"We started off with the McCain surge, the inevitable candidate, then it became the Giuliani surge, and then it was the Thompson surge, and now we have the Huckabee surge," the Republican candidate said.
"There is an initial infatuation and people take a close look on a person's issues and decide whether they want to support them or not," the former Massachusetts governor told CNN.
According to the latest USA Today/Gallup national poll, released Monday, Huckabee has surged to second among Republican voters, behind former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani. The margin of error was plus or minus 5 percentage points.
- CNN Political Assignment Editor Katy Byron
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Stinging from national party-imposed penalties that have sliced Michigan’s Republican delegate count in half, and entirely eliminated its Democratic delegation’s voting power, state leaders of both parties presented a new plan Tuesday to re-organize the chaotic presidential primary system.
Democratic National Committeewoman Debbie Dingell, wife of Rep. John Dingell, D-Michigan, and state Republican Party Chairman Saul Anuzis introduced a joint proposal that builds on several earlier plans already in circulation, including a measure introduced by Rep. Sander Levin, D-Michigan, Sen. Carl Levin, D-Michigan, and Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Florida.
Michigan is among several vote-rich states seeking to end Iowa and New Hampshire’s monopoly as sites of the first presidential vote each cycle.
“A system like this would finally bring sanity to the process,” Anuzis said in a statement. “Our proposal would create a reasonable and fair solution for each state and would end the state leap-frogging that is moving the beginning of the process obscenely early.”
The release of the new plan was deliberately timed, says Michigan Republican Party spokesman Bill Nowling, to coincide with this month’s meetings of both national parties.