COLUMBIA, South Carolina (CNN) - Don Fowler, a former chairman of the Democratic National Committee and husband of current South Carolina Democratic Party Chairwoman Carol Fowler, will endorse Sen. Hillary Clinton for president Wednesday, sources tell CNN.
Fowler served as DNC chairman during former President Bill Clinton's administration from 1995 to 1997, a period that included Clinton’s 1996 re-election campaign.
Fowler's wife has been state party chairwoman since April. She has said that she will remain neutral in the presidential primary.
The former chairman is a current member of the DNC, and a superdelegate to the 2008 Democratic convention in Denver. Fowler will make the announcement in an afternoon conference call.
South Carolina Democrats will hold their primary on January 26, the final nominating contest for their party before Super Tuesday on February 5.
UPDATE: Fowler said on the conference call he is endorsing Clinton because of her experience and her chances to win in 2008, explaining that she is a "wise leader who understands American government and politics better than anyone in the race."
He also responded to recent poll numbers in South Carolina that show Sen. Barack Obama cutting into Clinton's long-held lead.
"This is a close race," he said. "Anyone who ever thought this was a done deal is a bit mistaken and perhaps naïve."
- CNN South Carolina Producer Peter Hamby
McCain is out with a big direct mail blast in South Carolina.
COLUMBIA, South Carolina (CNN) - Sen. John McCain's campaign in South Carolina, long silent on the airwaves and in the mail, is stepping up their media efforts in the state as the holidays approach.
Two days after the campaign launched a statewide radio spot praising McCain's judgment on the war, his office here will send out a mail piece Wednesday advancing his three-pronged South Carolina message: that McCain is right on Iraq, that he wants to secure America's borders, and that he is the only Republican who can defeat Sen. Hillary Clinton in a general election.
The front of the brochure features a picture of McCain and former President Ronald Reagan, and it folds out to reveal the familiar image of McCain in his days as a Navy pilot.
"He was proven right" on the troop surge, the mailer reads, emphasizing a McCain talking point that he was the only Republican candidate to call for a shift in military strategy in Iraq.
The mail piece also takes on illegal immigration, McCain's political Achilles heel among GOP primary voters, explaining that the senator wants to "secure our borders first" and that he knows "illegal immigration is a national security issue."
The mail piece comes with a returnable form with a pledge reading: "Yes John ... I am willing to help you beat Hillary."
A campaign aide described the mailing as "substantial." The new mailer comes a day after his campaign circulated a brochure in New Hampshire blasting the former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney as someone "voters don’t trust" on immigration.
- CNN South Carolina Producer Peter Hamby
'Tis the season for holiday political ads.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - With the first round of presidential nominating contests falling just days after Christmas this cycle, presidential candidates are looking for novel ways to reach voters during a season when politics is about as appetizing as a run-of-the-mill fruitcake.
Following Mike Huckabee’s Yuletide spot, two more presidential candidates are out with 30-second Christmas-themed TV ads Tuesday that look as if they could double as warm-and-fuzzy holiday specials.
The entire Obama family is the star of a new ad for the Illinois Democrat, sitting in front of crackling fireplace and perfectly decorated mantle.
"In this holiday season we are reminded that the things that unite us as a people are more powerful and enduring than anything that sets us apart," Barack Obama says. "And we all have a stake in each other, in something larger than ourselves."
Obama's young daughters Malia and Sasha end the ad with a "Merry Christmas" and "Happy Holidays" respectively. The spot will begin airing Friday in the early-voting states of Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada.
Tough-as-nails former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani dons a softer image in his Granite State spot, appearing in a bright red sweater vest in front of a twinkling Christmas tree. His holiday wishes?
“I wish for peace with strength. Secure borders. A government that spends less than it takes in. Lower taxes for our businesses and families. And I really hope, that all of the presidential candidates can just get along," he says before Santa Claus himself makes a surprise appearance to interrupt.
“Ho, ho, ho, ho. I was with you right up until that last one. Ho, ho, ho, ho, ho.”
Giuliani responds, “Can’t have everything!"
- CNN Ticker Producer Alexander Mooney
COLUMBIA, South Carolina (CNN) - Here's a quick look at what's making news in South Carolina politics this morning:
Hillary Clinton's campaign says they will announce a "prominent" South Carolina endorsement on a conference call at 2:30 p.m.
JFK's former speechwriter Ted Sorensen will campaign for Barack Obama tomorrow in Columbia at the Jewish Community Center.
Sen. John McCain will send out a new mail piece in the state today promoting McCain's judgment on the troop build-up in Iraq and also raising the topic of immigration, tricky territory for the Arizona senator.
Mitt Romney criss-crossed the state yesterday, holding press conferences in airport hangars and facing questions about his falling poll numbers. The State writes that Romney is seeking to "re-energize supporters." Mike Huckabee spokesman Adam Piper calls Romney "desperate."
Romney defended his ads drawing contrasts with Mike Huckabee in Iowa, and also raised questions about Huckabee's Christmas ad now running the Hawkeye state.
"I hope Gov. Huckabee like all of us at this time, is sensitive to that diversity of faith and the liberty of peoples to worship God as they choose," Romney said.
Dan Hoover takes a big picture look at the GOP race with one month to go until the Republican primary.
- CNN South Carolina Producer Peter Hamby
Romney is highlighting a personal story in a new ad.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Campaign holiday ads are the big trail trend this week, with Mike Huckabee, Rudy Giuliani and Barack Obama all debuting gauzy ads filmed in front of Christmas trees. But Mitt Romney is out with a new 30-second spot that's more Times Square than tinsel.
In 'Searched' - airing in New Hampshire this week - Robert Gay, one of Romney’s former business associates, tells viewers how the former Massachusetts governor brought the entire team to New York City to help find his daughter Melissa.
"He said, 'I don’t care how long it takes – we’re going to find her,'" says Gay. "He set up a command center and searched through the night. The man who helped save my daughter was Mitt Romney."
The 14-year-old had disappeared after attending a rave in the city in 1996, when Rudy Giuliani was still mayor. In information the campaign sent to reporters about the incident, it includes an excerpt from the Boston Globe coverage following Melissa Gay’s safe return, in which Romney reflects on the dark side of life in New York:
"The partners, however, are still taking stock of their visit to the dark corners of New York, putting up posters and talking to runaways outside seedy nightclubs and peep shows. Romney said he can't escape some of the images he carries with him from his week in the New York underworld. 'It was a shocker,' he said. 'The number of lost souls was astounding…"
–CNN Associate Political Editor Rebecca Sinderbrand
Clinton is on top in New Hampshire in a new poll.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - It appears Hillary Clinton has recaptured the lead in New Hampshire, according to a new CNN/WMUR New Hampshire presidential primary poll out Wednesday morning.
After slipping into a virtual tie with Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois in last week’s New Hampshire poll, along with several other recent surveys, the New York senator now has a twelve-point lead over Obama in our new poll, 38 percent to 26 percent. Former Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina is in third place at 14 percent. The remaining Democratic White House hopefuls are all in single digits in our new survey, which was conducted by the University of New Hampshire.
Voters in New Hampshire, home of the nation’s first primary, head to the polls on January 8.
“Nearly all of Clinton's gains come among older voters. She also is ranked higher than Obama on every issue tested, with health care and the economy her strongest suits,” says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland.
While Clinton retains a comfortable lead in most national surveys, polls so far show a much closer race between Clinton, Obama and Edwards in Iowa, the first state to vote in the presidential primary process. The Iowa caucuses will be held on January 3.
Is the bookshelf behind Huckabee in his Christmas ad a subliminal message?
“Actually I will confess this, if you play this spot backwards it says ‘Paul is Dead, Paul is Dead, Paul is Dead,’” the presidential candidate joked to reporters in Houston Tuesday. “So the next thing you know, someone will be playing it backwards to find out the subliminal messages that are really there.” (Watch Huckabee's comments)
The ad is intended for the early-voting states of Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina.
The former Arkansas governor said the spot was last-minute and ad-libbed: “They had a bookshelf behind me, a bookshelf. So now I have these people saying, ‘ahhh there was a subtle message there,’” said Huckabee. “….I never cease to be amazed at the manner in which people will try to dissect the simplest messages, can't even say ‘Merry Christmas’ anymore without somebody getting all upset about it.”
The former Baptist minister also shot back at some who said the spot should have been more inclusive, and that he should have wished voters “Happy Holidays.”
“I don’t know what else to call Christmas, last time I checked that is what we celebrate. If somebody can give me a way to get around that and do it honestly, then perhaps that’s what Christmas is,” said Huckabee.
“The very word Christmas comes from the contraction of 'Christ Mass' - the worship of Christ – again, change the word if we don't want to talk about it, but that’s what it symbolizes and represents.”
–CNN’s Rebecca Sinderbrand and Steve Brusk
For the latest, breaking political news, check for updates throughout the day at http://www.CNNPolitics.com. All Politics, all the time.
Making news today:
Hillary gets her groove back?
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Barack Obama has the support of New Hampshire’s Democratic congressional delegation. And the Illinois senator has the influential backing of The Boston Globe, a powerful regional voice. But in a new CNN/WMUR poll out this morning, it seems Hillary Clinton may have in her corner another, far more powerful force in the Granite State: Grandma and Grandpa.
Thanks to big gains among older Democratic voters, Clinton – who had been locked in a statistical tie with Obama in a CNN/WMUR survey two weeks ago – now appears to hold a 12-point edge over the Illinois senator, 38 to 26 percent. John Edwards is at 14 percent in the poll conducted by the University of New Hampshire.
Not as much drama to be found in the GOP results – Mitt Romney is still out in front with 34 percent, followed by John McCain and Rudy Giuliani with 22 and 16 percent. (A 3-point gain by McCain, and loss by Giuliani, are not statistically significant shifts – though the McCain campaign is sure to call this a positive sign.)
The game is far from over: with three weeks until Granite State voters head to the polls, only one in five Republicans, and just under a third of the state’s Democrats, say they’ve settled on their final choice.
Meanwhile, after an eventful campaign week for prospective First Husband Bill Clinton, the former president is spending his final day on the trail for wife Hillary until after Christmas. Campaign reporters everywhere eagerly await his return.
–CNN Associate Political Editor Rebecca Sinderbrand
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Political Hot Topics
(Today's top political stories from news organizations across the country)
Compiled by Lindsey Pope
CNN Washington Bureau
Washington Post: Iowa Poll Spotlights Importance Of Turnout
Sens. Barack Obama of Illinois and Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York remain deadlocked in Iowa, with former senator John Edwards of North Carolina trailing, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll that underscores the importance of the massive efforts the Democratic candidates have set in motion to turn out supporters on Jan. 3.
New York Times: After Delay, Clinton Embarks on a Likability Tour
The tableau was classic Clinton: Bill Clinton chatting with African-American cashiers and baggers at a grocery store in Des Moines Tuesday, telling them how wonderful Hillary Rodham Clinton was, while she waited quietly for him to finish so they could dazzle more voters.
Chicago Tribune: '2nd Choice' Up For Grabs In Iowa Race
While the battle between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama has been the recent focus of the Democratic presidential race, the Illinois senator continues to cast a wary eye toward John Edwards, a veteran of Iowa caucus campaigning.
Boston Globe: Rivals Borrow Each Other's Playbook
In their last-minute efforts to reach out to voters, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama have reversed their appeals.
Washington Post: For Clinton, A Matter of Fair Media
After weeks of bad news, Hillary Clinton and her strategists hoped that winning the endorsement of Iowa's largest newspaper last weekend might produce a modest bump in their media coverage.
New Hampshire Union-Leader: Political 'Push Poll' Probed
As a telephone poll floods the state with positive comments about one Republican candidate and "factual information" about his rivals, the state's deputy attorney general said yesterday the state law banning "push polling" does not apply to the presidential primary.
Wall Street Journal: Clinton Secret Weapon: Organization
There has been a lot of attention to Hillary Clinton's recent slippage in this state, but things looked much bleaker for her earlier this year. In May, a top adviser suggested the New York senator give up competing in Iowa. Instead, she doubled down and hired Teresa Vilmain, widely seen as the gold standard among Democratic organizers in the state.
ABC News: POLL: In Iowa Democratic Caucuses, Turnout Will Tell the Tale
Turnout will tell the tale of the Iowa Democratic caucuses, where Barack Obama's theme of a fresh start in the nation's politics is resonating strongly against the bulwarks of Hillary Clinton's campaign - strength, experience and electability.
New York Times: It’s Edwards the Fighter in the Iowa Homestretch
More than 150 Iowans were rustling in their chairs at a community college here the other night, waiting for John Edwards. Mr. Edwards’s bus was parked and running outside the door, but it was nearly 45 minutes before he finally made his characteristically late entrance.
AP: Obama Calls For New Leadership In Foreign Policy
Democrat Barack Obama said Tuesday the nation's foreign policy challenges call for a new leader who will worry more about doing the right thing than how it will look.
AP: Filmmaker Ken Burns Endorses Obama
Barack Obama picked up an endorsement Tuesday from filmmaker Ken Burns, who said he was disappointed in what he called the negative tone of Hillary Rodham Clinton's campaign.
LA Times: Economy Rivals Security As Top Concern For Voters
As an election approaches, campaigns often brace for a last-minute event that could alter the political landscape. But the surprise this time isn't a scandal or a calamity overseas. It's an abrupt shift in the debate away from the battlefields of the Middle East and toward kitchen-table issues, such as the economy.
New Hampshire Union-Leader: 25% Of Potential NH Voters Didn't Live In State In 2000
Nearly one in four potential voters statewide didn't live in New Hampshire in 2000, according to a University of New Hampshire report released yesterday, a fact that could have strong implications for next month's first-in-the-nation presidential primary.
LA Times: Richardson TV Ad Opens Fire
Struggling to climb into the top tier of Democratic presidential contenders, New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson today will begin airing a sharply drawn television ad in Iowa and New Hampshire seeking to steer the campaign debate back to the war in Iraq.
Quad City Times: Fact Check: Romney's Pardoning Practices
Mitt Romney's new TV commercial questions the judgment of Mike Huckabee, his fellow Republican presidential contender, noting the rival issued 1,033 pardons and commutations as governor of Arkansas while Romney issued none while leading Massachusetts.
Boston Globe: Romney Dismisses Photo Taken At Fund-Raiser, Says He Is Firmly Antiabortion
Mitt Romney, who has taken hits from his Republican presidential rivals for his change of heart on abortion, waved off a photo, sent yesterday to several news organizations, that shows him at a fund-raiser for Planned Parenthood.
New York Times: Huckabee Now a Candidate With Something to Lose
Mike Huckabee was taking a vigorous morning run on a hotel treadmill on Saturday, avoiding the trail outside. “Too much snow out there,” said Mr. Huckabee, a former Arkansas governor, explaining his wariness of the slick roads and blocked pathways of New Hampshire. He worried, he said, about getting sideswiped or “hitting some patch of black ice and getting hurt.”
New York Times: McCain Sees a Need for Mortgage Aid
Reacting to voters’ concerns about the economy, Senator John McCain said Tuesday that he would consider greater intervention by the federal government to limit the fallout of the mortgage crisis if current measures fail.
LA Times: Giuliani Faces 9/11 Backlash
In an effort reminiscent of the bitter "Swift Boat" campaign during the 2004 presidential race, a group of New York firefighters who lost sons in the Sept. 11 World Trade Center attacks is organizing a political committee to take on former Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani in Republican primary states.
Washington Post: Giuliani's Kerik Woes Resurface Through Informant
In the heady days of the 1990s when Rudolph W. Giuliani was mayor of New York and Bernard B. Kerik was one of his most trusted lieutenants, Lawrence Ray enjoyed his own wild ride.
USA Today: Thompson: 'Saddle Me Up' In Campaign
Republican Fred Thompson says if he can be a presidential horse for conservatives to ride in the campaign, "All I've got to say is saddle me up."
Des Moines Register: Paul Would Not Promote Preventative Medicine
Unlike other presidential candidates who talk tough about controlling obesity and smoking to cut health care costs, Republican candidate Ron Paul said he would not promote preventative medicine.
Boston Globe: Candidate Has Another Teary Moment
After his eyes filled with tears for the third time in as many weeks on the presidential campaign trail, Mitt Romney explained that, no, he is not immune to sadness and grief.
Des Moines Register: This Is What Iowans Would Get, Clinton Says
Knowing Iowans are close to making their decisions about who to caucus for, Democrat Hillary Clinton said today she wants to be sure they understand exactly how Iowans would be affected by her proposals to help middle class families get ahead.
LA Times’ Top of the Ticket: Is Clinton Now Planting People In Campaign Forums?
According to the Associated Press, at a campaign forum in the fire station, which will be a caucus site come Jan. 3, Hillary Clinton happened to be asked about her religious faith. Then, the most incredible thing happened. Someone pointed out that Clinton's childhood Sunday school teacher, Rosalie Bentzinger, from her Park Ridge, Ill. days happened to be right there in the very same Iowa fire station at that same moment. What are the odds?
The Hill: Popular-vote plan nears crucial period
A three-year-old effort aimed at electing U.S. presidents through a popular vote is entering a critical phase in the coming weeks, with two big states set to possibly endorse the concept.
Washington Post’s The Trail: The New New Hampshire Voter
As the Jan. 8 primary here nears, the campaigns are studying the recent past for clues to their fate. Will Hillary Clinton be able to capitalize on New Hampshire voters' fondness for her husband in the 1990s? Will John McCain be able to retain the affections of the thousands who flocked to him in 2000?
Roll Call: No Party Changes Expected
Despite Joe Lieberman’s defection, Congressional insiders believe there is little chance that the Independent Senator who caucuses with Democrats will cast his lot with the other side anytime soon.
Chicago Tribune’s The Swamp: A Republican AND Democratic Logo For Caucuses
The Iowa Democratic and Republican parties today unveiled a joint logo for caucus night, a reflection of their efforts to maintain Iowa's first-in-the-nation status despite efforts by other states to get an earlier say.
Roll Call: Ramstad Could Decide to Stay
Rep. Jim Ramstad (R-Minn.) is seriously reconsidering his previously announced decision to retire in 2008 and could reverse course and run for re-election, according to Republicans and Democrats on Capitol Hill familiar with his thinking.
New York Times: Senate Adds $70 Billion for Wars in Spending Bill
The Senate voted Tuesday night to approve a sweeping year-end budget package after adding $70 billion for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan over the objections of Democrats who have been stymied all year in their efforts to change the course of the conflict in Iraq.
Politico: Gore Makes Pitch For DCCC
Former Vice President Al Gore, a recent recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize, made a fundraising pitch on behalf on the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Tuesday, the same day the House approved landmark legislation to increase fuel efficiency standards for cars and trucks.
The Hill: Fire Pours Down On Sen. Smith For Defense Of Lott’s Comments
Sen. Gordon Smith (R-Ore.), a top target of Democrats next year, came under fire Tuesday after he took to the Senate floor and defended Sen. Trent Lott’s (R-Miss.) 2002 comments that were interpreted by some as a defense of segregation.
New York Times: Reid’s Chilly Relationship With Bush Enters a Deep Freeze
Harry Reid, the Senate majority leader, has called President Bush a loser and a liar and has referred to him derisively as King George. Mr. Reid has also apologized — but only, he likes to point out, for the “loser” line.
On the Trail:
Compiled by Lauren Kornreich and Katy Byron
CNN Washington Bureau
* Hillary Clinton continues her Every County Counts tour through Iowa with stops in Independence, Elkader, Clarion and Des Moines.
* Bill Richardson holds town hall meetings in Hudson and Pembroke, New Hampshire. Later, he stops by Bowl-A-Rama in Portsmouth and holds a town hall meeting in Dover.
* Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney will hold a "Strategy for a Stronger America: National Security" media availability at the Boat House Restaurant Dock in Davenport, Iowa. The Republican candidate will then host a Romney for President Christmas Party at the Sheraton hotel in West Des Moines.
* Joe Biden speaks at Caucus Countdown events in Council Bluffs, Fort Dodge, Carroll and Denison, Iowa. Later, he participates in a town hall meeting in Sioux City.
*Fred Thompson will hold a meet and greet event at the Cedar Rapids Marriott in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. He then tours downtown Tipton, and drops by the Tipton Conservative newspaper. Later, he’ll take a tour of downtown Muscatine, and drop by the Muscatine Daily Journal. At the end of the day, Thompson will hold another meet-and-greet event at the Radisson Quad City Plaza in Davenport, Iowa.
* Chris Dodd stops by Youth and Shelter Services in Ames, Iowa. Later, he holds a town hall meeting in Marengo and attends a house party in Iowa City. In the evening, he stops by The Irish Democrat in Cedar Rapids.
* Mike Huckabee meets with local residents at Jordan Creek Town Center in West Des Moines, and at the Gateway Hotel in Ames, Iowa.
* John Edwards holds town hall meetings featuring Bonnie Raitt and Jackson Browne in Portsmouth and Manchester, New Hampshire.
* Rudy Giuliani holds a press conference in Kansas City and delivers a speech in Columbia, Missouri. Later, he meets with local supporters in Chesterfield.
* Mike Huckabee holds a campaign event with Dr. Henry Kissinger and Jim Woolsey at Faneuil Hall in Boston, Massachusetts. Later, he makes campaign stops in Londonderry and Pelham, New Hampshire.
* Barack Obama holds a roundtable with voters at Common Man Restaurant in Concord, New Hampshire. Later, he meets with local residents in Manchester and Nashua.
* Ron Paul participates in the Politics and Eggs breakfast in Bedford, New Hampshire.
* The Senate Radio-Television Correspondents' Gallery Daybook
* The House Radio-Television Correspondents' Gallery Daybook