Sen. Lieberman will throw his support behind McCain, a senior GOP source tells CNN.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Sen. Joe Lieberman, a Democrat turned Independent, will endorse Republican Sen. John McCain for president, officials close to both Lieberman and McCain familiar with the plan tell CNN.
Lieberman is planning to announce his support for McCain at an early Monday morning event in New Hampshire, but the campaign is keeping a close eye on a winter storm that could force it to be rescheduled.
The McCain campaign declined to comment on the source's account, and would not confirm it.
An aide to Lieberman tells CNN he decided to endorse McCain because he considers him "the most capable to be commander in chief on day one of his administration, and the most capable of uniting the country so that we can prevail against Islamic extremism."
The Lieberman aide insists the senator does not see this as a "commentary on or an endorsement of the Republican party, only the person."
Lieberman had not planned to endorse anyone until after the primary season, but McCain asked Lieberman for his endorsement a few days after the two men returned from a Thanksgiving trip to Iraq together, and Lieberman decided to do it, according to the same Lieberman aide.
Lieberman will continue to caucus with the Democrats.
Like McCain, Lieberman has been a vocal supporter of the Iraq war. For Lieberman, it is an issue that caused him to split with his own political party after losing the Democratic Senate primary in 2006. Lieberman refused to back down, and won reelection as an Independent.
Lieberman was the Democratic vice presidential nominee in 2000.
Lieberman's Democratic colleagues welcomed him back to the Senate, and he is the 51st vote that gives Democrats a razor thin majority in the 100 member chamber. Lieberman chairs the Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs Committee, and he still attends weekly Democratic strategy meetings.
"I have the greatest respect for Joe, but I simply have to disagree with his decision to endorse Senator McCain," Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said in a statement to CNN.
Lieberman's office called Reid's office Sunday to inform the Democratic leader of his decision to endorse a Republican.
A longtime Lieberman adviser described it as a "hangover" from the 2006 campaign when Democrats, including Connecticut Sen. Chris Dodd, New York Sen. Hillary Clinton, and other longtime friends declared they could and would not support his reelection bid after he lost the primary. Instead, they backed the Democratic nominee Ned Lamont.
This endorsement could help emphasize McCain's national security standing, show he is able to work across party lines, and perhaps help persuade independent voters in New Hampshire to support his presidential bid.
- CNN's John King and Dana Bash
WASHINGTON (CNN)–Three senators told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer that Congress needs to investigate the interrogation tapes of suspected terrorists destroyed by the CIA in 2005.
On CNN’s Late Edition, Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Joseph Biden of Delaware said, "I can't think of a Justice Department that's been riddled with as much politicizing of everything from firing prosecutors to making up tapes. That is the last place we should be using as the investigative tool."
Biden also reiterated his call for a special prosecutor if Congress is not allowed to do its job.
On Friday, Justice Department officials sent a letter to the House Intelligence committee that said congressional inquiries would interfere with their own investigations.
But two members of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Republican Kit Bond of Missouri and Democrat Evan Bayh of Indiana, told Blitzer Sunday that Congress and the Justice Department should both have their own investigations. "The reason we have confidence in our process is because there are checks and balances," Bayh said.
Bond agreed that Congress should have an oversight role when it comes to the intelligence services. "We in the Intelligence Committee have had extensive investigations, and one of the problems in the intelligence community is they have not held anybody accountable for anything," he said. "We are continuing to push to see that accountability exists."
The controversy is expected to continue in the coming weeks, as the Intelligence Committee's chairman, Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia, and the House Intelligence Subcommittee's chairwoman, California Rep. Jane Harman, have both vowed to proceed with the investigations despite the Justice Department’s requests.
- CNN's Ted Metzger and Peter Lanier
Clinton offered a sharp critique on Obama's readiness to be president in a PBS interview Friday.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Former President Bill Clinton sharply questioned whether Sen. Barack Obama is experienced enough to be president during a television interview that aired Friday night.
And the husband of Obama's rival for the Democratic presidential nomination, Sen. Hillary Clinton, suggested that electing the Illinois Democrat to be commander-in-chief would be a "risk."
"If you listen to the people who are most strongly for him, they say basically, 'We have to throw away all these experienced people, because they have been through the wars of the nineties,'" Clinton said in an interview on PBS' The Charlie Rose show. "'They made enough decisions and enough calls that they made a few mistakes, and what we want is someone who started running for president a year after he became a senator because he's fresh, he's new, he's never made a mistake. And he has massive political skills, and we're willing to risk it.'"
Asked later in the interview if he thought voters would be "rolling the dice about America" if they elect Obama president, Clinton did not outright disagree, saying, "It's less predictable."
"When was the last time we elected a president based on one year of service in the Senate before he started running?" the former president added.
"I don't want a president who's never made a mistake and never had to correct one," he also said.
Campaigning in Iowa Saturday, Obama said the former president's harsh assessment was likely to due to the latest polling numbers that indicate his wife is trailing in Iowa and slipping in New Hampshire.
“Look, I mean when I was 20 points down, they all thought that I was a wonderful guy,” Obama said at a campaign event in Waterloo. “Obviously things have changed here in Iowa and the rest of the country, and that's the kind of politics we've become accustomed to.”
Also in the PBS interview, Clinton compared Obama to himself in 1988, when he was a young governor of Arkansas who decided not to run for president yet.
"Even when I was a governor, and young, and thought I was the best politician in the Democratic Party, I didn't run the first time I could have. I had lots of Democratic governors encouraging me to, but I knew in my bones I shouldn't run, that I was a good enough politician to win, but I didn't think I was ready to be president."
- CNN Ticker Producer Alexander Mooney
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Republican presidential hopeful Fred Thompson downplayed Mike Huckabee's recent rise in the Iowa polls, and said Sunday it should not be credited to his conservative appeal, but rather "some religious leaders and church people."
"I mean, they're a cohesive group and well-organized," the former Tennessee senator said in an interview on CBS' 'Face the Nation.' "And he has worked them very, very hard. And, you know, when you're talking about a relatively few votes, a group such as that can do you a lot of good politically."
Thompson added that "liberal is the only word that comes to mind" when describing rival Huckabee's record as Arkansas governor. Thompson also took aim at Mitt Romney, calling him an inconsistent conservative.
"I'm not sure how you would ever determine how Mitt would govern in the future if you looked at his past, in comparison to what he's saying today," Thompson said of the former Massachusetts governor.
The Thompson campaign continues to unleash a barrage of negative mailers and campaign statements in the Hawkeye State aimed at the two former governors.
Thompson, who has slipped to third behind Huckabee and Romney in most recent Iowa polls, said that there's "no question" he needs to do well in the caucuses, which will take place in roughly three weeks.
He also repeated his campaign trail calls for a tougher immigration policy and stronger border security. The issue is a central one among Republicans in most early-voting states.
"I think that if [immigrants] know they can't go back and forth across the border, if they know that they're not going to be working here indefinitely, if they know they're not going to be protected from the law essentially in these cities, that they'll go back on their own accord," Thompson said. "Obviously, not all of them, and not overnight. But it will move in the right direction. That's the only thing that we can do."
- CNN Associate Political Editor Rebecca Sinderbrand
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Democratic and Republican candidates stunned by the Des Moines Register’s presidential picks reacted with polite resignation Sunday.
The state’s largest and most influential daily made the announcement with less than three weeks to go before Iowa’s first-in-the-nation caucuses.
The paper’s endorsement of John Edwards during his 2004 presidential run was followed by his surprisingly strong showing in the Democratic caucuses that year, but Sunday the editorial board said it “too seldom saw the 'positive, optimistic' campaign we found appealing” during the last campaign. “His harsh anti-corporate rhetoric would make it difficult to work with the business community to forge change."
Edwards disputed the assessment Sunday. "… I'm as positive as I have ever been,” he told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, chalking up the board’s decision to a “fundamental disagreement” on economic policy.
"They seem to believe that you can forge big change in this country by working with oil companies, gas companies, power companies, insurance companies, drug companies," the North Carolina trial attorney said. Clinton, he added, “defends the system,” though he congratulated her for the paper’s nod.
Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and John Edwards are all in a tight fight for the lead in most recent state polls of registered Democratic voters.
Huckabee shares his working class roots.
BERLIN, New Hampshire (CNN) - Campaigning Saturday in New Hampshire's economically depressed North Country, Mike Huckabee expressed his empathy with Berlin's working community, and identified himself as one of them.
"I grew up concerned about whether or not there would be a job in my family the next month and the next month," the former Arkansas governor told voters who have experienced growing unemployment and economic hardship as Granite State mills and factories close.
"I didn't grow up with a dad who was a governor," he said, repeating a regular campaign jab at his Republican competitor, Mitt Romney, whose father was a former governor of Michigan. "I grew up with a dad who was a fireman."
CNN Producer Mike Roselli captured this photo of Obama in Algona, Iowa Sunday.
MASON CITY, Iowa (CNN) - Presidential hopeful Barack Obama told worshipers Sunday that he wasn’t raised in a church, but “came to Christ” during his years as a community organizer in Chicago.
“During this holiday season, and during the political season, I am continually reminded that the values I learned in the scriptures and at church ... can be applied outside of church every single day,” the Illinois Democratic senator told attendees of the First Congregation United Church of Christ on this gray and snowy morning in the Hawkeye State.
This church, in particular, seemed an appropriate venue for a Christmas season appearance. Meredith Wilson, who wrote “It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas,” and “The Music Man,” attended this church.
For the past 40 years, parishioners have had a tradition of tossing mittens, hats and scarves - all intended as donations to the poor - onto a church Christmas tree. Obama had a pretty good toss, and joked that his days of playing basketball helped him.
“I am confident of my skills,” he said.
Obama's stop came in the midst of a six-day swing that will take him to more than 20 cities in the Hawkeye State, and will end in Des Moines on Tuesday.
- CNN Political Producer Mike Roselli
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Mitt Romney grew emotional during a television interview aired Sunday in which he recalled his family's civil rights legacy and the Mormon church's 1978 decision to allow blacks to participate fully in church rites.
In an interview on NBC's 'Meet the Press' Sunday, Romney's eyes seemed to fill with tears when he recalled the moment he heard about the church's policy change. "I was driving home from, I think it was law school, but I was driving home... I heard it on the radio, and I pulled over and literally wept," he said. "Even at this day, it's emotional."
He also clarified some of his recent remarks on faith, saying that "for America to be a great nation and lead the world, we must have a religious base," but added that he does believe it is possible for an individual to be both moral and atheist.
The former Massachusetts governor also said that he did speak with leaders of the Mormon church before running for president, but he made the final decision in consultation with his family.
Romney repeated campaign trail statements that Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court case that allowed abortion to remain legal, should be overturned, and said he would love it "if people would welcome our becoming a no-abortion country." He said any new penalties should not punish women who underwent the procedure, but that physicians who performed certain abortions should lose their licenses, or face up to two years in prison.
The former governor, who has made a get-tough immigration policy a central issue in his efforts to win the Iowa caucuses, also repeated earlier calls that workers in the U.S. illegally should have to go home for a period of time before receiving any sort of legal status.
"The 12 million here illegally should be given the opportunity to stay here, but no advantage in becoming a U.S. citizen," said Romney, adding that, "if they had a child, that doesn't mean they all get to stay here indefinitely."
He said that employers who hired these workers should face the same criminal penalties as those who do not pay their taxes, and repeated his calls for a new national employment verification system.
Immigration is a top issue among Republicans in many early-voting states, including Iowa. Polling showed Romney leading in the state until recently, but he is now currently trailing Mike Huckabee in the newest surveys with less than three weeks to go until the Hawkeye State's first-in-the-nation caucuses.
Romney repeated a Saturday criticism of the former Arkansas governor, saying he "went over the line" in a newly-released Foreign Affairs article in which he said the Bush administration had an "arrogant bunker mentality" with regard to foreign policy.
Romney, who is leading in New Hampshire in most polls, faced a snub from his hometown paper Sunday when The Boston Globe decided to back Arizona Sen. John McCain in neighboring New Hampshire's Republican primary. McCain, who won the Granite State during his 2000 presidential run, is second there behind Romney in most recent polls.
- CNN Associate Political Editor Rebecca Sinderbrand
MANCHESTER, New Hampshire (CNN) - Republican presidential candidate John McCain received an endorsement Sunday from The Portsmouth Herald, his second from a major New Hampshire paper.
The Herald’s backing is the third significant editorial endorsement the Arizona senator received this weekend, along with nods from The Boston Globe and The Des Moines Register. He won the support of the Granite State's largest and most influential newspaper, The New Hampshire Union Leader, in early December.
"U.S. Sen. John McCain will tell you the truth, even if it costs him the election," the Portsmouth Herald editorial board wrote Sunday.
The paper praised McCain as a “man of integrity and honor” and “a strong military man prepared from day one to defend our nation against its enemies… Of all the Republicans running, he is by far the best qualified to lead our country.”
McCain, whose campaign has wagered much on a strong showing in the Granite State, is scheduled to spend the next four days campaigning in New Hampshire, where voters head to the polls January 8. He won the state’s GOP primary during his 2000 presidential run.
–CNN New Hampshire Producer Sareena Dalla
Chuck Norris campaigns in New Hampshire with Mike Huckabee.
BERLIN, New Hampshire (CNN) –A snowy morning with bone chilling temperatures did not deter fans from seeing martial arts action hero, Chuck Norris' campaign debut in the Granite state, Saturday, with presidential candidate, Mike Huckabee.
In New Hampshire's North Country, supporters greeted the former Arkansas governor and Chuck Norris to rousing cheers of "Huck and Chuck!"
"I'm smart enough to know that most of you guys didn't come out on a Saturday morning to see Mike Huckabee," the presidential hopeful told the large crowd. "I know it helped a whole lot to bring one of America's living legends."
Norris, the cult hero of "Texas Walker Ranger," discussed how he had been dissatisfied with the Republican field of candidates and credited his online fans for introducing him to Huckabee.
"I started getting all these emails saying that we [fans] are backing Mike Huckabee for President," said Norris who endorsed Huckabee in late October after meeting with him at his Texas ranch. Since then, Norris has starred in a Huckabee television ad and accompanied the presidential candidate at CNN's You Tube Debate in Florida. The last candidate Norris actively endorsed was former President George H.W. Bush in 1988.
Later, while discussing the rising attacks on him from the republican presidential field, Huckabee joked that, with Chuck Norris on his team, he was prepared to fight.
"My opponents have taken out all the sharp knives in the kitchen right now and I'm sure they will get them all ready to slice and dice - and thank goodness for Chuck Norris. "
–-CNN New Hampshire Producer Sareena Dalla