WASHINGTON (CNN) - Things are heating up on the campaign trail, with a litte more than two weeks until the Iowa caucuses.
In Tuesday's The Best Political Podcast, Suzanne Malveaux reports from the Hawkeye State about some magical help Sen. Hillary Clinton got on the campaign trail.
Some Republicans are asking "where's Rudy Giuliani?" Bill Schneider takes a look at the former New York City Mayor's late primary, large state strategy for winning the Republican presidential nomination.
Mary Snow spent some time with Rep. Ron Paul's campaign in New Hampshire. She reports on what Paul's supporters are doing to translate the Texas Republican's online support and recordbreaking fundraising into votes in the Granite State's crucial primary.
Plus, it's been a banner day on the CNN Political Ticker. John King shares with you some of the Ticker posts garnering reader attention and commentary.
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–CNN Associate Producer Martina Stewart
WASHINGTON (CNN)–The planes wait for no one, not even Republican presidential candidate Sen. John McCain.
At Washington's Reagan National airport Tuesday night the Senator from Arizona was paged several times by a gate agent, who warned he had only three minutes to get to his flight.
"Paging passenger John McCain, John McCain," the flight representative called over the public address system.
Fellow passengers stared in disbelief as the Senator briskly walked through the airport to catch his flight to Boston wondering if it really was the presidential candidate.
McCain waved to onlookers as their questions were confirmed. One person shouted, "I love you Mr. President!"
–CNN Political Producer Xuan Thai
Bill Clinton said Monday he and former President Bush would go on a diplomatic mission if Hillary Clinton became president.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Former President George H.W. Bush has shot down his successor Bill Clinton’s idea of a diplomatic mission under a Hillary Clinton presidency that would send him and other notables abroad to assure other nations that “America is open for business and cooperation again.”
The move came one day after Bill Clinton made the suggestion on the campaign trail in South Carolina, in response to a question from a supporter about his wife’s “number-one priority” upon reaching the White House.
In a statement sent to CNN Tuesday afternoon, former President Bush’s chief of staff Jean Becker said that he “wholeheartedly supports the President of the United States, including his foreign policy. He has never discussed an ‘around-the-world-mission’ with either former President Bill Clinton or Sen. Clinton, nor does he think such a mission is warranted since he is proud of the role America continues to play around the world as the beacon of hope for freedom and democracy.
“President Bush is excited about several of the excellent Republican candidates running for president, and looks forward to discussing their candidacy once the Republican nominee is determined.”
–CNN's Rebecca Sinderbrand
Magic Johnson hit the campaign trail in Iowa Tuesday.
(CNN) - Basketball legend Magic Johnson hit the Hawkeye State campaign trail on behalf of Hillary Clinton Wednesday - and appeared to take a thinly-veiled shot at the New York senator's chief rival, Barack Obama.
"You don't want somebody in there that is young or a rookie at politics," Johnson said at a rally in Davenport, Iowa. "We want somebody in there that knows what they're doing, because this job is so huge."
The Clinton campaign has long sought to portray Obama, first elected to the Senate in 2004, as too inexperienced to be President of the United States. In response, Obama has cited his experience as a community organizer and Illinois state senator, and said his lack of Washington experience makes him better able to bring about change.
Asked at a separate campaign stop Tuesday why he decided to support Clinton over Obama, Johnson again cited the New York Democrat's experience.
"Thirty years experience right here," he said with Clinton at his side. "This country right now needs a leader with experience, because this is not going to be an easy job, this is not going to be an easy job. And the only person in this race on either side that has the experience, the knowledge, the wherewithal, the work ethic, is Sen. Clinton.”
– CNN Ticker Producer Alexander Mooney
WASHINGTON (CNN) - With just weeks to go until New Hampshire’s first-in-the-nation presidential primary, John McCain is taking an unscheduled absence from the campaign trail and rushing back to Washington for a Senate vote on Iraq war funding.
The Arizona senator canceled most of Tuesday’s campaign events after learning that three amendments related to the war effort, all attached to government funding legislation, are scheduled for a vote tonight. Two of them, offered by Democrats, aim to end the mission in Iraq. The third, offered by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, would provide $40 billion for the war in Iraq not already included in legislation passed by the House.
McCain’s vote may be a critical one - senators and aides on both sides say they are not sure if the McConnell amendment will get the 60 votes required to pass.
New York Sen. Hillary Clinton’s office says she will not be returning from the trail. CNN has not yet heard back from presidential campaigns of the other sitting senators, Democrats Barack Obama of Illinois, Joe Biden of Delaware and Chris Dodd of Connecticut.
Romney questioned the religious overtones in Huckabee's new Christmas TV ad.
COLUMBIA, South Carolina (CNN) - Mitt Romney continued to assail Republican rival Mike Huckabee's record as Arkansas governor Tuesday, and defended the second negative TV ad his campaign is now running in Iowa.
"I think Gov. Huckabee's rise in the polls justifies him getting a close look from the voters," Romney told reporters inside an airport hangar near Columbia.
"I think as they take a close look at his record on immigration they’ll see somebody who is too liberal on immigration. When they look at the 1,033 pardons and commutations they’ll see someone who was too liberal on crime," said Romney.
This week, the Romney campaign launched a TV ad in Iowa accusing Huckabee of being soft on crime and reducing punishments for those caught manufacturing meth.
It's his second ad to draw a contrast with the former Arkansas governor: last week, the Romney campaign launched an Iowa TV spot hitting Huckabee on his immigration record.
The former Massachusetts governor dismissed the notion that primary voters might sour to negative political ads running during the holidays.
The Clinton campaign is out with a new Web video.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Four days after Barack Obama's presidential campaign launched a wildly popular Web video showing a former Hillary Clinton backer in Iowa switching her allegiance to the Illinois Democrat, the Clinton campaign hit back with its own online video of current supporters once aligned to rivals.
The two-minute video called "Switchers" includes interviews with several former supporters of either Obama or John Edwards, in which they describe why they decided to defect to Clinton.
The Obama Web video released Friday documented why one Iowa precinct captain decided to reverse her support of Clinton in favor of Obama. That video has been viewed more than 340,000 times on YouTube.
– CNN Ticker Producer Alexander Mooney
Huckabee spoke on CNN's Larry King Live Tuesday.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Republican Mike Huckabee sharply denied reports Monday he used his influence as Arkansas governor to scuttle a police investigation into allegations his son tortured a dog while a counselor at a boy scout camp.
"Let me categorically say that is absolutely not true," the presidential candidate said on CNN's Larry King Live. "I never used my influence. In fact, if anything, I said treat it like you would anything else. I don't want special treatment for him or against him."
Huckabee was responding to a report in the current issue of Newsweek, in which former Arkansas State Police Director John Bailey says he was fired by Huckabee in part because he wanted to investigate an allegation that the then-governor's son David tortured and hung a stray dog.
The incident allegedly occurred at a Boy Scout camp in 1998. David Huckabee, then a counselor there, was later expelled for not being "consistent with the Boy Scout mission" of being "kind," according to a letter from the camp's director obtained by the magazine. Shortly after the younger Huckabee was expelled, allegations surfaced that he was involved in the cruel treatment of the dog.
"There was a dog that came in. It was mangy. It looked like it was going to attack," Mike Huckabee said Monday on CNN's Larry King Live. "He was a staffer at the camp. They put the dog down. They didn't do a good job of talking to the leaders. The way it was handled was not ideal, but there was no criminal activity."
The Arkansas Republican also noted his son went on to become an Eagle Scout, and suggested Bailey had an "an axe to grind" because he had been fired.
– CNN Ticker Producer Alexander Mooney
It looks like "family values" just aren't the campaign issue they used to be.
"USA Today" reports that in this election cycle, so-called "family values" are lower on the agenda. Of course, Republicans have made this a staple of their political campaigns for three decades now. But in the current campaign, Mitt Romney is virtually alone in stressing the issue. A "USA Today"/Gallup poll shows that although most voters say "family values" in general are important to them, they don't care all that much about candidate's personal lives.
There are several reasons for this shift, including cultural changes in society and the backgrounds of several of the Republican candidates. Rudy Giuliani, John McCain and Fred Thompson have all been divorced and remarried.
To read more and contribute to the Cafferty File discussion click here
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Bill Clinton caused a stir late last week when he seemed to say Barack Obama is too inexperienced to be commander-in-chief, but the former president told CNN Tuesday that's not what he meant to suggest.
“I am trying to say that I agree with what the Des Moines Register said that Hillary has the best record of positive change making in other people’s lives, and I think it is important and I think that this is why they endorsed her,” the former president told CNN's Suzanne Malveaux.
“I bragged on all of them," he continued. "Sen. Obama, Sen. Edwards, all of them - I like them, I think she has the best record of making change in other people's lives in the most different circumstances and I think that's very important for the next president.”
On PBS’ The Charlie Rose Show Friday, Clinton emphasized the fact that Obama has only been a senator since 2004, and said the Illinois Democrat has not had enough experiences to make a mistake.
“If you listen to the people who are most strongly for [Obama], 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 the interview. "'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.'"
Also during 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