WASHINGTON (CNN) - In the latest The Best Political Podcast, Wolf Blitzer brings you an exclusive interview with GOP presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani, R-New York.
Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-New York, has regained her lead over rival Sen. Barack Obama, D-Illinois, in New Hampshire, according to a new CNN/WMUR poll released Wednesday. Senior Political Analyst Bill Schneider reports on how the preference for presidential candidates in the Granite State is being driven by which issues voters see as more important.
Candy Crowley also takes a look at Iowa college students and what role they may play in the Hawkeye State's critical caucuses.
Finally, CNN's John King, Gloria Borger, and Jack Cafferty weigh in on Giuliani and his February 5 strategy for winning the GOP presidential nomination.
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–CNN Associate Producer Martina Stewart
CNN's Wolf Blitzer interviewed Giuliani on board the CNN Election Express Wednesday.
(CNN) - Republican presidential hopeful Rudy Giuliani said Wednesday that waterboarding should not be used regularly in interrogations, but might be called for in a “once in a lifetime, once in a decade situation.”
"Having looked at this, it certainly should not be a practice that should go on generally,” the former mayor of New York said in an interview in Columbia, Missouri.
But Giuliani told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer that there may be situations where waterboarding - a technique where a person undergoes simulated drowning - would be warranted to obtain critical information from an alleged terrorist, such as the location of a nuclear bomb about to explode.
Many human rights organizations consider waterboarding to be torture.
"I don't think you can write this out as a procedure that should be write out for all situations,” Giuliani said. “I think the president and the appropriate officials should have some discretion here.”
–CNN.com Senior Political Producer Scott Anderson
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Republican Rudy Giuliani defended his campaign strategy of focusing on primary states that vote later in the nominating calendar, telling CNN Wednesday that the compact primary schedule meant those voters would head to the polls far sooner than in earlier presidential cycles.
“[I]t's a big primary season compacted into a month," he told CNN's Wolf Blitzer. (Watch the interview)
The former New York City mayor also brushed aside polls from Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina - the first round of states that lead off the Republican presidential primary process - that show him trailing his GOP rivals. He also noted that he leads in most of the states that are set to vote February 5.
“Right now I'm ahead in probably 18, 19, 20 of the 28, 29 states [to vote February 5 or earlier]," he said. "That's a pretty good position to be in."
But Giuliani refused to concede he may lose the first round of contests, saying of the primary process, "I kind of look at it as a nine-inning game."
– CNN Ticker Producer Alexander Mooney
Edwards affirms commitment to poverty.
PORTSMOUTH, New Hampshire (CNN) – John Edwards fired back at Hillary Clinton Wednesday over earlier comments that he said questioned his commitment to ending poverty.
"She said something about ‘People are talking about poverty, but, you know, what are we going to do about it?’" the Democratic presidential candidate told reporters after a Granite State campaign event with musicians Jackson Browne and Bonnie Raitt.
He said the New York senator’s remarks had been a “veiled reference” to him.
The former North Carolina senator - who regularly touts his working-class credentials as the son of a mill worker - shot back.
"Let me just be clear," said Edwards. "Ending poverty in this country is the cause of my life, and I am completely committed to it."
He called on Clinton and other White House hopefuls to commit to raising the
minimum wage to $9.50 an hour. He also challenged them to come up with their own comprehensive plan to end poverty.
Edwards has made his own anti-poverty plan a centerpiece of his campaign.
–CNN New Hampshire Producer Sareena Dalla
Rep. Dennis Kucinich.
(CNN) - Perry Kucinich, brother of Democratic presidential hopeful Rep. Dennis Kucinich of Ohio, was found dead Wednesday morning at his eastside Cleveland home, officials said.
His body was discovered by another brother, Larry, in his apartment about 9 a.m., a spokesman for the Cuyahoga County Coroner told CNN.
Powell Caesar said the cause of the 51-year-old man's death won't be known until the results of the autopsy are returned. But, Caesar said, the body did not show injuries and there appeared to be no signs of foul play.
Dennis Kucinich said in a statement that his brother struggled with mental illness but led a productive life. The congressman and his wife were flying in to Cleveland later Wednesday.
"He was a genius. He had extraordinary insights," he said.
Perry Kucinich was an artist whose work had recently been on display at a local art gallery, the statement added. He was expected to have another showing
of his art in the spring.
He was the fifth of seven children in the Kucinich family, with brother Dennis being the oldest.
"Dennis was very close to his brother Perry," said family spokesman Andy Juniewicz in the same statement "He watched after him, and he loved him dearly. The two spoke nearly every day."
Funeral services are pending.
(CNN) – Republican presidential hopeful Rudy Giuliani Wednesday said he would be open to diplomatic talks with Iran, but only if certain pre conditions were established.
"I would want to make sure there was a chance it would work,” Giuliani said while speaking to CNN's Wolf Blitzer in Columbia, Missouri. “I would want to make sure there would be an opportunity to verify whatever it is we were going to do.”
"I worked for Ronald Reagan. I believe in 'trust but verify,'” he said.
The former New York City mayor said he would meet Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad - but only if pre-conditions where established. He noted that President Reagan had met with America's adversaries.
"He spoke to the Russians, Soviets, the Chinese.” Giuliani said. “Even at the highest level of the Cold War, there were discussions - but not without preconditions.”
Giuliani said that even if he did enter into talks with Iran, the option of an American invasion to topple the current Islamic government would not necessarily be off the table.
"Some have said they would take regime change off the table, or they seem to be less firm about the military option. You start taking these things off the table, there's no negotiation, there's no pressure, no leverage. You have to have leverage,” Giuliani said.
– CNN.com Senior Political Producer Scott Anderson
FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:
With two weeks to go until the Iowa caucuses, the race couldn't be much tighter on the Democratic side.
A new Washington Post-ABC News poll suggests 33% of likely caucusgoers support Barack Obama, 29% back Hillary Clinton and 20% are behind John Edwards. The margin of error is 4 points.
The poll also shows Obama gaining ground on Clinton on the question of which Democrat is most electable, which had been one of Clinton's early advantages. However, when it comes to which candidate has the best experience to be president, Clinton still has a significant lead.
In Iowa, it could also come down to which campaign does a better job of motivating voters to come out in the dead of winter and spend hours attending these caucuses.
To read more and contribute to the Cafferty File discussion click here
CNN's Dana Bash takes a look at Thompson's big Iowa push.
DECORAH, Iowa (CNN) - Fred Thompson is suddenly trying to go from great GOP disappointment, to surprise contender, in record time.
“It's a little late in the process to be coy so I want to tell you that I believe I’m that man,” he told a 100 plus person audience in Dubuque, Iowa.
Thompson is on a 15 day bus tour to 50 plus Iowa cities – in the state nearly every day until the January 3 caucuses.
To watch his campaign is to witness a candidate trying to shake the rap that has no fire in his belly.
His red meat speeches are redder. His arguments for why he should be president are sharper.
“My friends I’ve been there, and I can tell you we are just one successful terrorist plan away from nuclear attack on this country,” Thompson tells Iowa voters.
“All the experts know that it’s the kind of world we live in. It’s not the time for on the job training.”
He even makes a point of lingering with voters after speeches, instead of escaping out a back door – a common criticism of Thompson.
Has he found his “mojo?”
“You know I've probably to a fault felt like I've had my mojo the whole time,” Thompson told CNN.
In an interview on his bus, Thompson, who declared his candidacy just three months ago, insisted he’s been “working hard for several months now.”
But in a moment of reflection, he said expectations may have been high because he is an actor.
“You know I think sometimes the media had the notion you know that because I'd been in the movie business that I'd be well scripted I'd be slick, that I'd be perfect, and it was a standard nobody else was held to but I think I was held to it and so they concentrated on the negative,” Thompson told CNN.
– CNN's Dana Bash
(CNN) - John McCain’s campaign has released a new television ad in the Granite State that calls attention to the Arizona senator’s early support for the troop surge in Iraq, and highlights his consistent stands in the face of criticism.
"One man warned us we were failing in Iraq, and told us how we could turn things around,” says the announcer in the 30-second spot, titled "Not Easy."
"More troops and a different strategy. He took a lot of heat, but he stood by what he knew was right. Today that strategy is working."
McCain himself says, "I didn't go to Washington to win Mr. Congeniality. I went there to serve my country."
"One man does what's best for America,” says the announcer. “Not what's easy."
Clinton attended a Chicago fundraiser Tuesday night.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Sen. Hillary Clinton Wednesday criticized the Senate’s passage of additional funding for the war in Iraq, while dismissing a measure that would have set a timetable for U. S. troop withdrawal from the country.
The New York senator missed both votes Tuesday night, though the margin was big enough that she would not have made a difference in the final result. Instead, the Democratic presidential hopeful spent the evening at a fundraising event in Chicago.
“Last night, the Senate voted to add additional funding for Iraq to the Omnibus appropriations bill without any requirements to end the war,” Clinton said in a statement released by her Senate office. “As I have said before, I cannot and will not support continuing to fund a flawed and failed strategy in Iraq. I was proud to be a co-sponsor of an amendment offered by Sens. Russ Feingold and Harry Reid that would require the President to safely redeploy U.S. troops from Iraq within nine months after which funding for military operations in Iraq would be terminated.
“Unfortunately, the Senate rejected Sen. Feingold's amendment and instead voted to support funding for the Iraq war without any further limitations. Rather than continue with a flawed and failing policy in Iraq, it is time to change course. Therefore, I cannot support the addition of appropriations for Iraq to the supplemental appropriations bill,” said Clinton.
The Feingold amendment failed 71-24. The measure providing additional war funding passed 70-25. A nonbinding resolution that called for an end to the Iraq war without specifying a timetable for withdrawal failed because it did not receive the 60 votes required for passage – the final vote on that measure was 50-45.
The other Democratic senators seeking their party’s presidential nomination - Barack Obama of Illinois, Joe Biden of Delaware and Chris Dodd of Connecticut - also missed the Iraq funding votes. Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona, who opposes a timetable for troop withdrawal, canceled his New Hampshire campaign appearances Tuesday to return to Capitol Hill for the votes.
Clinton spokesman Howard Wolfson told CNN that, "The outcome was not in question and her position was clear."
–CNN's Rebecca Sinderbrand