WASHINGTON (CNN) - All eyes are on Iowa as caucus-goers in the Hawkeye State prepare to cast the first ballots in a tight race for the White House.
In Thursday's The Best Political Podcast, Bill Schneider reports on a new CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll of likely Iowa caucus-goers and digs deep into the issues that are driving support for particular candidates.
Suzanne Malveaux speaks with former senator John Edwards, D-North Carolina, about his fight against poverty and what he would do as president to battle special interests.
White House Correspondent Ed Henry also has a report about the Pundit-in-Chief.
Plus, the 2008 presidential election dominates the hottest posts on the Political Ticker blog - one candidate drops out, another joins the race, and yet another gets an apology from a prominent supporter of rival.
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–CNN Associate Producer Martina Stewart
Clinton's campaign said Thursday she introduced minimum wage legislation yesterday.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Just one day after a challenge from presidential rival John Edwards to commit to raising the minimum wage to $9.50 an hour, New York Sen. Hillary Clinton announced that she had already introduced legislation to do just that.
“With stagnant wages and skyrocketing costs for healthcare, energy and college, working families in America need a break. That is why yesterday I introduced legislation to raise the minimum wage to $9.50 by 2011, and link the minimum wage to Congressional pay raises after that,” said Clinton in a Thursday statement. The senator said the measure was “the first bill ever to call for a $9.50 minimum wage.”
In her statement, Clinton said the new legislation had been introduced Wednesday, although her campaign did not release that information until late Thursday.
Clinton and Edwards have spent the past few days in a verbal tug-of-war over their respective anti-poverty credentials. At a New Hampshire campaign stop Wednesday, Edwards reacted angrily to 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?’" characterizing the remarks as a “veiled reference” to him. "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 then called on Clinton and other White House hopefuls to commit to raising the minimum wage to $9.50 an hour, and to come up with their own comprehensive plan to end poverty.
In an interview with CNN's Suzanne Malveaux Thursday afternoon, Edwards again called on Clinton and the rest of his Democratic rivals to come out in favor of the $9.50 figure. Clinton's statement was released shortly after his appearance.
–CNN’s Rebecca Sinderbrand
(CNN) - Hillary Clinton, who has made experience a major theme of her campaign, has spent the past few weeks sparring with rival Barack Obama over just how much of it a future president needs. Now, Chris Dodd is weighing in on the debate with a new TV spot that reminds Iowans he has spent more time in Washington than both of them put together.
“Some people say I have too much experience to run for president,” Dodd says with a smile in the 30-second spot, already airing on Iowa television. “The more you hear my opponents, the more you wonder whether they have enough.”
Dodd also takes on Barack Obama’s campaign theme of unifying the nation, telling viewers that “I’ve spent my life bringing Democrats and Republicans together to create real change. I know I can win the general election. And I am ready to be president.”
“I’m Chris Dodd and I’d appreciate your support on caucus night. I approved this message because I believe it’s time America had a president with the experience to lead.”
The Dodd campaign says they’ve made a “major buy” on Iowa stations, and that the ad will run through January 3, caucus night.
–CNN's Rebecca Sinderbrand
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney told CNN's John King Thursday he is the only GOP candidate making a major effort to win both New Hampshire and Iowa.
Giuliani has left a St. Louis hospital after spending the night there.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Republican Rudy Giuliani was released from a St. Louis, Missouri hospital Thursday, and his spokeswoman said the former New York City mayor was given a clean bill of health.
"Doctors performed a series of precautionary tests and the results of all the tests were normal," Giuliani Communications Director Katie Levinson said. "The mayor is heading back to New York this afternoon and he continues to be in high spirits."
Giuliani was admitted to the hospital late Wednesday night after complaining of flu-like symptoms.
WASHINGTON (CNN) – President Bush may not be weighing in on the current presidential contest, but Thursday he offered a rare glimpse into how he’d like to vet his successor.
In this clip from the President’s Thursday press conference, Bush explains the two questions he would ask the candidates vying for the White House.
First, Bush would inquire about “the principles by which people make decisions”: “You can’t be the president unless you have a firm set of principles to guide you as you sort through all of the problems the world faces,” the president explained. He said he would be “very hesitant to support someone who relies on opinion polls and focus groups to define a way forward.”
Second, the President said he would investigate how a candidate intends to get the “unvarnished opinion” of his circle of advisers if elected.
–CNN Associate Producer Martina Stewart
Tancredo said he is endorsing Mitt Romney for president.
WASHINGTON (CNN) – Rep. Tom Tancredo abandoned his long-shot bid for the Republican presidential nomination Thursday afternoon, but claimed victory because, he said, the other GOP candidates have adopted his staunch anti-illegal immigration agenda.
“According to Newsweek, the Tancredo campaign has already won,” he said during a press conference in Des Moines, Iowa.
After announcing his decision to drop out of the race, Tancredo endorsed Mitt Romney's presidential bid, saying the former Massachusetts governor’s views came closest to his own stance on illegal immigration, and that he “could go the distance” and win the presidency.
Tancredo, a Colorado Republican, is a fierce proponent of stricter illegal immigration laws, but his campaign struggled to gain traction with the Republican primary voters, despite the fact that his signature issue is a top concern among GOP primary voters this cycle.
No more frontrunner when it comes to the Republican presidential race.
At least that's according to a new poll. The Wall Street Journal/NBC News survey shows Rudy Giuliani and Mitt Romney tied nationally at 20 percent. Mike Huckabee is close behind them at 17 percent, followed by John McCain at 14 percent and Fred Thompson at 11 percent.
Just six weeks ago, Giuliani held a double digit lead over his closest rivals. Other polls also show Giuliani's lead shrinking in Florida, one of the states he's been building his campaign around.
Experts say they haven't seen a Republican race so fluid and in such turmoil for more than 50 years.
To read more and contribute to the Cafferty File discussion click here
McCain is out with a Christmas ad.
COLUMBIA, South Carolina (CNN) – Another Republican presidential candidate is out with a Christmas television ad prominently featuring a cross, but no one will be able accuse this ad of telegraphing anything subliminal.
The ad will run in South Carolina and New Hampshire beginning Friday and will broadcast until "a few days after Christmas," according to a McCain aide. It's McCain's first TV ad in South Carolina.
"One night, after being mistreated as a POW, a guard loosened the ropes binding me, easing my pain," McCain narrates in the 30-second spot. "On Christmas, that same guard approached me, and without saying a word, he drew a cross in the sand."
The ad uses grainy footage to re-enact the moment as a man, off screen, draws a cross in the dirt using a twig.
"We stood wordlessly looking at the cross, remembering the true light of Christmas," the ad continues. "I will never forget that no matter where you are, no matter how difficult the circumstances, there will always be someone who will pick you up."
In this Race to '08 podcast, CNN Radio's Bob Constantini speaks with CNN Correspondent Jessica Yellin who is in Iowa covering the Democratic presidential primary race.
Listen to Yellin discuss the new CNN poll, the issue of leadership style among the Democratic White House hopefuls, and what the Democrats are doing to draw distinctions between themselves and their rivals for their party's nomination.
Related video: For Dems, a matter of style
– CNN Associate Producer Martina Stewart