Joe Biden had some tough words for President Bush Tuesday.
(CNN) - Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden, who has criticized the White House for their “fixation” on Iran, called the president’s tough comments Tuesday on that nation’s nuclear program a “charade” in light of a newly-released assessment of Tehran’s nuclear capabilities.
The report said that Iran halted its development of a nuclear weapon four years ago.
President Bush said Tuesday that he only learned of the 2003 intelligence assessment last week. In remarks at a White House press conference, the president also said the report shows that Iran could again try to acquire nuclear weapons and remains dangerous, adding that the international community should keep up its pressure on Tehran over its nuclear program.
“I refuse to believe that,” said Biden, speaking on the campaign trail in Iowa. “If that’s true, he has the most incompetent staff in modern American history and he’s one of the most incompetent presidents in modern American history.”
The Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman linked the administration’s conduct to its actions before the Iraq war, saying that “for this president to knowingly disregard or once again misrepresent intelligence about the issue of war and peace, I find outrageous. [T]his is exactly what he did, exactly what he did in the run-up to the war in Iraq, in consistently exaggerating the intelligence.”
“If past is prologue, I do not trust this administration,” said Biden. “I do not trust them to level with us. I do not trust them to tell us the truth.” The senator has said that if the administration goes to war with Iran, President Bush should be impeached.
The White House response was muted. “Sounds like someone’s running for president,” said Press Secretary Dana Perino. “The RNC can therefore provide more comment.”
RNC spokesman Brian Walton added, “Apparently Joe Biden has seen recent polling that shows his statistical insignificance and is looking for relevance in the debate by offering heated rhetoric.”
- CNN Deputy Political Director Paul Steinhauser
WASHINGTON (CNN) - South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham is standing by his man, insisting Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, whom he endorsed, is doing well in the Palmetto State.
Still, Graham conceded to reporters Tuesday that “what you see nationally with Huckabee is happening in South Carolina.”
Graham was responding to a new USA Today/Gallup poll that places former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee in second place nationally among Republicans.
South Carolina is a key Republican primary state, and has historically been a firewall for Christian conservatives like Huckabee.
The increased Palmetto State support Graham senses hasn’t shown up in polls yet - an AP-Pew survey of South Carolina voters out Tuesday put Huckabee in fifth place there.
But that survey was taken over a lengthy period earlier this month, and may not fully reflect the recent surge in support for the former governor. In addition, in the crowded GOP field, fifth place is just 9 percentage points behind the poll’s leaders, Rudy Giuliani and Mitt Romney, who were each chosen by 19 percent of people surveyed.
–CNN Radio’s Lisa Desjardins
(CNN) - Senior Political Correspondent Candy Crowley has been spending some time on the campaign trail in Iowa where the first votes in the presidential primaries will be cast in about a month.
In Tuesday's Race to '08 podcast, CNN Radio's John Lisk talks with Crowley about how Senators Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama are increasingly leveling attacks at each other as the Iowa caucuses approach and polling shows a virtual three-way tie in Iowa between Clinton, Obama, and former senator John Edwards.
Giuliani's support has dropped 9 points in one month, according to a new poll.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - The presidential race in both parties isn't just tightening in the key early-voting states, but across the rest of country as well, according to a new USA Today/Gallup poll out Monday evening.
One month before Iowa and New Hampshire voters kick off the presidential primary season, the poll seems to show nationwide support for frontrunners Hillary Clinton and Rudy Giuliani has dropped considerably from this time a month ago.
Giuliani, the former New York City mayor, is down 9 percentage points in one month while Clinton, the senator from New York, has seen her support drop 11 points. Both Clinton and Giuliani's declines are the biggest one-month drop they have seen since the presidential election season began.
"The movement away from the frontrunners may be a sign that the public is starting to pay attention to the election, and may be moving beyond the "name recognition" phase," CNN Polling Director Keating Holland said. "It's an early indication of what might happen after Iowa and New Hampshire, when a few second-tier candidates will get instant name recognition to rival that of Clinton and Giuliani."
One-time dark horse candidate Mike Huckabee has shot up to second place in the national survey, now 9 percentage points behind Giuliani, 25 percent to 16 percent. Arizona Sen. John McCain and former Tennessee Sen. Fred Thompson are one point behind at 15 percent. Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney is just behind the pack with 12 percent.
Responding to the poll, Giuliani spokeswoman Maria Comella said, "We’ve been saying from the beginning that this race was always going to tighten. But when you look at the numbers, Rudy has been consistently leading in every major national poll since February. Unlike some other candidates, Mayor Giuliani has steady strength and real staying power."
On the Democratic side, Clinton's lead now stands at 15 percentage points over Illinois Sen. Barack Obama, 39 percent to 24 percent. In last month's poll Clinton's lead was 28 percent over the Illinois senator. Former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards stands at 15 percent, meanwhile, with the rest of the field in single digits.
While Clinton's support is down, Holland notes no single Democrat is the direct beneficiary.
"No single candidate has emerged as the ABC - Anybody-but-Clinton - candidate," he said. "Edwards went up 3, Obama went up 3, [New Mexico Gov. Bill] Richardson went up 2, [Delaware Sen. Joe] Biden went up 2. That's how Clinton maintains a double-digit lead - Democrats may be moving away from her, but they aren’t moving toward one of her rivals."
The poll surveyed 425 Republicans and leaning Republicans and 494 Democrats and leaning Democrats on November 30 through December 2. It carries a margin of error of plus or minus 5 percentage points.
- CNN Ticker Producer Alexander Mooney
WASHINGTON (CNN) – A fellow Democrat who was connected with John Edwards' presidential campaign is attacking Hillary Clinton in a new television ad he says will air later this week in the early voting state of Iowa.
The ad accuses the New York Democratic senator of folding to Republican pressure and will run on Iowa cable, according to Glenn Hurowitz, co-founder and president of Democratic Courage, the newly-formed political action committee that created the spot.
Hurowitz, an environmental activist, was listed as a “National Environmentalists for Edwards Leader” in an official press release sent out by the Edwards campaign earlier this fall, which described him as “principal” of Democratic Courage. He said in an interview Tuesday that he is no longer connected with the former North Carolina senator’s campaign in any way.
Hurowitz, along with fellow Democratic Courage founder Sam Goldman, has also donated to the Edwards campaign several times this election cycle, according to Federal Election Commission records.
John Edwards is locked in a heated three-way battle with Clinton and Barack Obama for first place in the Hawkeye State less than one month before the Iowa caucuses.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Sen. John McCain won the backing of New Hampshire's largest newspaper over the weekend. CNN's Bill Schneider takes a look at how much of a boost the New Hampshire Union-Leader's endorsement will give the Arizona Republican in the Granite State.
New polls show Romney is strong in three early-voting states.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - A new survey is highlighting the fluid nature of the GOP presidential race in three early-voting primary states.
In Iowa, the AP-Pew poll released Tuesday says the national front-runner, former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani, trails former Govs. Mitt Romney of Massachusetts and Mike Huckabee of Arkansas. Romney is also in contention for the top spot in New Hampshire and South Carolina.
But no lead is safe. Just 57 percent of Iowa Republicans say they strongly support their currently-favored candidate. The race is even more chaotic in New Hampshire and South Carolina, where just 49 and 44 percent of voters are certain of their choice.
Giuliani is viewed as the most electable candidate by Iowa and South Carolina Republicans and is tied with Romney in that category in New Hampshire. But solid majorities in each state say finding a candidate who shares their stands on the issues is a more important consideration.
In Iowa, Romney has 25 percent support among Republicans, Huckabee 24 percent, Giuliani 14 percent and former Tennessee Sen. Fred Thompson 12 percent.
In New Hampshire, Romney has 37 percent, Giuliani 19 percent and and Arizona Sen. John McCain 15 percent.
In South Carolina, where the poll shows voters are less focused on the race, Romney and Giuliani have 19 percent each, Thompson 18 percent, McCain 13 percent and Huckabee 10 percent.
The poll, which was conducted over a lengthy two-week period early this month, may have failed to capture Mike Huckabee’s late gains in Iowa. But it does capture deep divisions among traditional Republican blocs, with no one candidate capturing a majority of evangelicals, conservatives or men. Republicans who go to church at least once weekly prefer Huckabee in Iowa, Romney in New Hampshire, and Thompson in South Carolina.
The survey of likely voters in Iowa had a margin of error of plus or minus 7 percentage points. The margin of error in New Hampshire and South Carolina was 5.5 percent.
A former aide to Sen. Cantwell has been arrested on child sex charges.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - A staff member for Sen. Maria Cantwell has been arrested on charges he tried to arrange to have sex with a 13-year-old boy.
James Michael McHaney, 28, was arrested by federal agents Friday in the lobby of a building where they say he thought he would meet a witness cooperating with authorities and have sex with the boy, according to court documents.
A spokesman for Cantwell, a Democrat from Washington, said her office was informed of the arrest Friday afternoon and that McHaney was immediately fired.
"Our office has and will continue to fully cooperate with the ongoing federal criminal investigation," said Michael Meehan, Cantwell's chief of staff. "Sen. Cantwell has zero tolerance for crimes against children."
According to documents filed Nov. 30 in U.S. District Court in Washington D.C., the witness, while being supervised by authorities, sent an online message to McHaney Friday asking if he was interested in having sex with a 13-year-old boy. McHaney said he could take a long lunch break and went to the building where he was arrested and charged with attempted child exploitation, authorities said.
Channing Phillips, spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's office in Washington D.C., said McHaney appeared before a magistrate judge Monday and was ordered held without bond until a preliminary court hearing on Wednesday.
MANCHESTER, New Hampshire (CNN) - Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney said Monday his upcoming speech about religion is not "a JFK speech" to ease concerns about his Mormon faith, but called the subject an important one in the campaign.
"I've long anticipated that at some point, I'd be talking about the role of religion in a free society," the former Massachusetts governor told reporters. "That's what I'll be talking about."
Romney's campaign announced Sunday that he would give a speech on "Faith in America" on Thursday at former President George H. W. Bush's presidential library in College Station, Texas. Though the topic evokes the 1960 speech to Southern Baptist leaders given by John F. Kennedy, who became the first Roman Catholic president, Romney said that's not what he has in mind.
"I'm not going to be giving a JFK speech," Romney said. "He gave the definitive speech on discrimination relating to a political campaign, and what he said makes sense to me. I'm going to be talking about the role of religion and faith in America, in a free society."
However, he added, "I certainly will answer some questions related to how my own faith will inform my presidency."
- CNN Chief National Correspondent John King contributed to this report
DES MOINES, Iowa (CNN) - On the stump, Mike Huckabee boasts about running a clean campaign that steers clear of smearing his GOP rivals.
But now a group founded by some of Huckabee's supporters appears to be doing just that.
The group, Common Sense Issues, launched a series of automated calls Sunday to Iowa Republican voters offering negative information about Huckabee's rivals, and positive information about the former Arkansas governor.
The group's executive director, Patrick Davis, dubbed the calls "personalized educational artificial intelligence," and admitted they are designed to promote Huckabee.
"We believe that Mike Huckabee has the character and the record to put this country on the right path," Davis told CNN, "a path that is healthier physically, fiscally and culturally."
The calls directed Iowa voters to the group’s website, trusthuckabee.com, which allows visitors to sign up to be a Huckabee precinct captain, an important organizing position for the Iowa caucus.
–CNN Correspondent Dana Bash