Rep. McCrery joins many fellow Republicans who have decided to leave Congress.
(CNN) - A top-ranking Republican on one of the most influential committees in Congress announced Friday that he plans to resign - opening up yet another G.O.P. seat in a year that has already seen 18 Republicans announce plans to leave the chamber.
Jim McCrery, of Louisiana, said at a news conference late Friday that he does not intend to seek re-election to the House next year. McCrery, currently serving his 10th full term, is the ranking Republican on the powerful House Ways and Means Committee and was in line to chair the committee before Democrats took control in the 2006 elections.
"Congressman Jim McCrery has distinguished himself in Congress as a key player in the debate of some of the most pressing issues facing our country," said Tom Cole, chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee. "He has been a champion for the American taxpayer and his work on issues like retirement security and health care has also earned him a great deal of respect from members of Congress on both sides of the aisle."
Sen. Obama’s TV ads are Nevada’s first of the campaign season.
LAS VEGAS, Nevada (CNN) – Sen. Barack Obama’s campaign announced Friday that it would start airing television ads in Nevada next week, making Obama the first presidential candidate in both parties to be seen in ads by Silver State residents.
The first spot to be rolled out is entitled “Take it Back,” an ad previously seen in Iowa and New Hampshire that portrays Obama as a reformist and focuses on his refusal to take campaign contributions from lobbyists and PACs.
New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson was the first candidate on Nevada’s airwaves with radio ads over the summer in both English and Spanish. Obama quickly followed suit with his own radio ads in Spanish, both campaigns attempting to tap into Nevada’s growing Hispanic population.
While the races have narrowed in Iowa and New Hampshire, an American Research Group poll released Friday gave frontrunner Sen. Hillary Clinton a 25% lead over Obama in Nevada (23% remain undecided). Nevada is the fourth state in the Democratic nomination process, but with Michigan stripped of its delegates by the Democratic Party, Nevada could play a pivotal role following Iowa and New Hampshire.
An Obama spokesperson told CNN, “The race is tightening nationally and certainly we are committed to making sure that the campaign here in Nevada is one of the strongest and that we’re getting the message across.”
The ads will run starting Tuesday until the January 19 caucuses.
– CNN Nevada Producer Alexander Marquardt
The same Ron Paul supporters who hauled in four million dollars in one day online to the Paul campaign have a new plan to boost the Republican candidate – a giant blimp nearly two hundred feet long. Internet Reporter Abbi Tatton takes a look.
– CNN Associate Producer Eric Weisbrod
Huckabee's immigration plan is derived from a National Review article.
BLUFFTON, South Carolina (CNN) - The nine-point immigration plan released Friday by former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee came with a footnote:
"Note: This plan is partially modeled on a proposal by Mark Krikorian, Executive Director of the Center for Immigration Studies." That proposal by the conservative anti-illegal immigration activist was published in the National Review in May 2005.
Not only is Huckabee's plan strikingly similar to the magazine piece – in some cases, it contains exact quotations copied over from the article.
For instance, the Huckabee plan states that "Employment is the chief draw for most illegal immigrants and denying them jobs is the centerpiece of an attrition strategy."
Krikorian's article contains that same statement, verbatim.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Mitt Romney defended his anti-illegal immigration credentials Friday, telling CNN there was no gap between his tough enforcement rhetoric on the stump and recent reports that he continued to employ workers at his Massachusetts home who could not legally work in this country months after news accounts first revealed their status.
“I certainly have never proposed that homeowners have a responsibility when they hire a contractor to then go out and inquire of the company’s employees whether they happen to be legal or not,” the Republican presidential candidate told CNN’s Dana Bash after an Iowa campaign stop. “As a homeowner… that’s not something that’s available under the current system in this country.”
He added that that kind of verification was the responsibility of the companies themselves, and of the federal government.
When the former Massachusetts governor was asked if, as a presidential candidate, he should have made a special effort to ensure workers at his home were eligible to work in this country – gone the “extra mile” – he reacted angrily.
“And what’s the extra mile? … and you tell me how to do that in this country,” he said. “Let’s say I go to a restaurant, should I make sure that waiters there are all legal? How would I do that?”
Romney also told reporters that his Thursday speech on faith was not designed to address concerns among many evangelicals, who will form a major voting bloc in next month’s Iowa caucuses. “The speech was not about politics I don’t know how the politics work,” he said. “[I] don’t know what the implications are from a political standpoint” - although his own campaign sent out a release Friday noting the political impact of that speech.
– CNN’s Dana Bash contributed to this report
The House page program came under scrutiny after the Mark Foley scandal last year.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - A lawmaker who resigned from the board that oversees Capitol Hill pages said one parent suggested lax supervision led to "kids gone wild."
Rep. Ginny Brown-Waite, R-Florida, Friday said she resigned because she was angered to learn that two pages had oral sex in public areas of the their Capitol Hill dorm. The pages were dismissed from the program, but Brown-Waite said the incident is an example of lax supervision of the teens.
"It wasn't kissing and hugging - let me put it that way," Brown-Waite said. "It did go beyond that, there were not only a young male and female involved, but there were also observers and other page participants who were, let's say, enablers."
"This had been going on for months," she said. "Almost all of the pages knew about it."
No members of Congress were involved, Brown-Waite said.
McCain discussed the CIA tapes controversy at a campaign stop in New Hampshire Friday.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Presidential candidates took aim at the CIA and the Bush administration over the destruction of video recordings that documented the interrogation of Al Qaeda suspects Friday, and included the use of the controversial “waterboarding” technique.
Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton told CNN that the revelation “raises some very serious concerns,” since it may have been done despite a legal request for such material from the 9/11 commission.
“So we're going to be looking into this vigorously to determine exactly what happened, what were the reasons for the destruction of the tapes what was the CIA trying to protect,” said the New York senator. “We've got to really clean house here and get to the bottom of what has been going on in the last years.”
Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona, who has long been critical of the administration’s stance on harsh interrogation techniques that some have defined as torture, criticized the CIA but stopped short of accusing anyone at the agency of criminal action.
"I don't think they should have destroyed those tapes and it will harm the credibility of the CIA in my view, and I wish they had listened to members of Congress who said they should not do so," McCain told reporters after a New Hampshire campaign event, but "as far as I know, they didn't break any laws.
“But they should be concerned by their credibility with the American people. And to take actions such as that without a convincing argument for doing so, it erodes American confidence in the institution,” he added.
New Mexico Sen. Bill Richardson directed most of his criticism at the White House.
"The Bush-Cheney Administration seems to be on a mission to destroy our credibility in the world," Richardson said in a statement. "That these tapes existed is reprehensible. That they were destroyed is outrageous…. No one is above the law."
Delaware Sen. Joe Biden, Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, said the administration’s actions in the matter, in allegedly withholding the recordings, “appear to violate federal law.”
"This is another troubling example of the Bush administration's lawless behavior that only serves to undermine our credibility at home and abroad,” he said in a statement. “Obstructing justice and making false statements to an official investigation cannot be condoned by our government.”
Biden called for the CIA's inspector general to launch an official investigation.
Meanwhile, former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards said the actions raise "deeply troubling questions about whether their destruction was intended to prevent the American people from learning the truth about the harsh interrogation techniques sanctioned by the Bush-Cheney Administration."
MANCHESTER, New Hampshire (CNN) – At a campaign event Friday, former Sen. John Edwards made light of sparring between his opponents, Sen. Hillary Clinton and Sen. Barack Obama, saying the campaign season has turned "silly."
"The criticisms have sort of ratcheted up," said Edwards of the exchanges between the senators from New York and Illinois. He laughed while explaining his take of the charges made by the Clinton camp.
"[Barack Obama] wrote an essay when he was in kindergarten talking about how he wanted to be president, and somehow or another, that was supposed to be an issue of character," he said.
"I have to confess on my own behalf," Edwards continued playfully "when I was in kindergarten, I wanted to either be a cowboy or superman."
When asked later if it was to his advantage that Clinton and Obama were on the attack of one another, Edwards dismissed the question, saying only it was his intention to remain "clear and strong and positive," over the next four weeks.
–CNN New Hampshire Producer Sareena Dalla
Huckabee said he would put his own Christian twist on a "God speech."
BLUFFTON, South Carolina (CNN) – Speech? What speech?
Mike Huckabee said Friday he did not watch the speech on faith given by former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, but offered lukewarm praise for what he had heard about Romney's comments.
The former Arkansas governor said from what he had heard, Romney "seemed to have done an excellent job."
But the Baptist minister argued that he has been confronted with questions about his faith more than Romney has, and that he would make a "God speech" too if given the airtime.
"I get all of the God questions at the debates, so you know when people say, 'Oh, he had to make a speech,' I'm thinking, 'Hey you know what? If you'll give me national television time, I'll make you a God speech, and I'll tell you what I'll do, I'll throw in an offering and an altar call to throw in with it.'"
Huckabee was speaking with reporters after attending a fundraiser here.
– CNN South Carolina Producer Peter Hamby
Huckabee's tax record is under fire from the Club for Growth and rival Fred Thompson.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Republican presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee, who has been criticized by his party’s fiscal conservatives, found his tax record under fire Friday from both a rival candidate and an independent group.
Republican Fred Thompson is taking aim at Huckabee in the crucial state of Iowa, and – in what amounts to the harshest of GOP slaps – linking him to another former Arkansas governor, President Bill Clinton.
The former Tennessee senator – who, like Huckabee is seeking the support of the party's conservative base – is assaulting his Republican rival for his record on taxes while governor in a mail flier sent to Iowa Republicans this week.
Meanwhile, the anti-tax Club for Growth released an anti-Huckabee ad on YouTube, with plans to air it nationwide on FOX News Monday,
"Mike Huckabee wants to hide the fact that he and Bill Clinton share a 'D' lifetime rating for their tax and spend policies," says the Thompson mailer, in reference to Huckabee's negative assessment from the libertarian Cato Institute's Scorecard of Governors.
Elsewhere, the flier states, "Mike Huckabee talks like a Republican but taxes like a Democrat."
The 60-second Club for Growth spot excerpts a speech Mike Huckabee gave as Arkansas governor in which he says certain tax increases are acceptable.
After an initial burst when he first floated the idea of a presidential run, Thompson's poll numbers have steadily declined in the Hawkeye State, while Huckabee has surged to a tie for first place there in most polls.
Huckabee's campaign has not responded to a request for comment. But late last month he told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer that that the Arkansas speech has been taken out of context.
"I was basically giving a put up or shut up speech to the legislature who had been saying we have got a $200 million deficit, and we don't like any proposal the governor has to fix it," he said. "What I was saying to them was, if you don't like my proposals, give me yours, but let's fix this deficit. And we did."
– CNN Ticker Producer Alexander Mooney