(CNN) – Fred Thompson's campaign sent out a fundraising e-mail Friday that seems to gloss over the upcoming New Hampshire primary, and points to South Carolina's January 19 contest as "the next target in our sights."
The e-mail said South Carolina "has always been critical to our plan for victory" and claims that every penny raised "will go to South Carolina media."
Thompson ran a pair of TV ads in the state for several weeks last fall, but the campaign stopped airing them shortly before Christmas.
The former Tennessee senator, who consistently plays up his Southern roots while campaigning in the Palmetto State, has considered South Carolina a must-win since he officially entered the race last summer.
– CNN Political Producer Peter Hamby
(CNN) - Focus on the Family founder James Dobson pointed to Mike Huckabee’s Iowa caucus win Friday as evidence that religious voters remain a “powerful force” in U.S. politics.
“The results of the Iowa caucuses reveal that conservative Christians remain a powerful force in American politics. That had to be a great shock to those on the far left,'” Dobson said in a statement, according to the Associated Press.
Dobson, who has not officially endorsed a presidential candidate, took aim at "media elites" for dismissing the influence of Christian voters, and said Huckabee's win "was evidence of an energized and highly motivated conservative community."
Nearly 60 percent of Iowa Republicans are self-identified evangelicals.
–CNN's Rebecca Sinderbrand
(CNN) - In the wake of its Iowa loss to rival Barack Obama, John Edwards’ campaign is ramping up the negative tone of the final days of that race – accusing the Illinois senator of having once been a sellout to corporate interests.
Edwards has made his populist stand a cornerstone of his campaign.
"Barack Obama's kind of change is where you sit down and you cut a deal with the corporate world," Edwards Campaign Manager David Bonior said during an interview with MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough. "If you look at his record in Illinois when he had a major - sponsored a major health bill that's what he did. He watered down with the help of the corporate lobbyist and they got a weak product out of that."
Scarborough asked: "Are you saying that Barack Obama is a sellout to corporate interests?"
Bonior replied: "He was four years ago in Illinois. All you have to do is look at the legislation I'm referring to."
Bonior was referring to health care legislation that Obama was instrumental in passing when he was an Illinois state senator five years ago, in part because he worked with insurance companies to make additions to the bill that would ensure their approval of the measure.
The Obama campaign immediately responded. In an e-mail to the Huffington Post, spokesman Ben Labolt said that "The reason Barack Obama won such a commanding victory in Iowa is because Americans of all parties are hungry for a leader who can bring people together to take on the special interests. That's how Barack Obama actually took on lobbyists and won in Illinois, and that's how he expanded health care to 150,000 Illinois children and parents."
–CNN's Rebecca Sinderbrand
Barack Obama's huge win in Iowa last night was characterized this way by Peggy Noonan in the Wall Street Journal this morning: "His takedown of Mrs. Clinton was the softest demolition in the history of falling buildings."
But make no mistake. A demolition it was. What we don't know yet is whether Obama's victory was an anomaly created by the polarizing nature of Hillary Clinton combined with the widespread opposition to President Bush or whether we saw the start of something truly historic last night. I will wager you this: if he wins, students in classrooms around the country will be listening to Obama's victory speech last night 20 years from now. It was beyond brilliant.
It's not just that Obama won, it's how he did it.
To read more and contribute to the Cafferty File discussion click here
(CNN) – Iowa has spoken, after nearly a year of campaigning by a crowded presidential field.
In Monday’s The Best Political Podcast, Chief National Correspondent John King reports on the Iowa caucuses. Senior Political Analyst Bill Schneider delves into CNN’s Iowa entrance polling data and explains what caucus goers liked about Sen. Barack Obama and former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee.
John King and Dan Lothian also look ahead to New Hampshire’s primary on January 8. Plus: the headlines percolating on the Political Ticker after the caucuses and political parting shot from I-Report cartoonist Jim Brenneman.
Click here to subscribe to The Best Political Podcast
–CNN Associate Producer Martina Stewart
At her first stop in Nashua, New Hampshire, after a third-place showing in Iowa, Hillary Clinton expressed confidence in Tuesday's upcoming primary, five days away: "It's a short period of time, but it's enough time." (Photo Credit: CNN's Mike Roselli).
MANCHESTER, New Hampshire (CNN) - The newly-minted front-runners arrived in New Hampshire early Friday, hoping to take advantage of momentum created by their wins in Thursday night's Iowa caucuses.
Results out of the Iowa caucuses saw the emergence of two new front-runners - Republican Mike Huckabee and Democrat Barack Obama - and showed that the message of change resonated with voters in both parties.
The test of whether the front-runners can carry the momentum will come quickly, as the New Hampshire primaries are only five days away on January 8.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - The federal investigation of former Sen. Conrad Burns' ties to jailed lobbyist Jack Abramoff has been closed, and the Montana Republican will not be charged, the Justice Department confirmed Friday.
"I never doubted that the baseless and politically motivated charges leveled against me would be found to be without merit," said Burns, in a statement issues by his lawyers. "My family has paid a great price during this three-year period, and we are thankful it is now over... I now move on to other interests."
Burns currently works for a lobbying firm. He narrowly lost re-election in 2006 after Democrats attacked him for his relationship with Abramoff, a former high-profile Republican lobbyist.
Burns acknowledged receiving more than $100,000 in campaign contributions from Abramoff and his associates. He later returned the funds.
–CNN Justice Producer Terry Frieden
Mitt Romney boards his plane to New Hampshire Friday morning after coming in second in the Iowa caucuses. (Photo Credit: AP)
PORTSMOUTH, New Hampshire (CNN) – Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, fresh off his stinging loss to Mike Huckabee in the Iowa caucuses, arrived in New Hampshire at 3:30 a.m. this morning to prepare for a hasty five-day battle for the state that could make or break his candidacy.
"I let one guy slip by me, hats off to him," Romney told an early morning rally of supporters at the Portsmouth airport, referring to Huckabee. "We're not going to let that happen in New Hampshire, or anywhere else."
Romney, who spent over $7 million in Iowa and staked much his electoral success on winning the caucuses, is re-tooling for a different kind of battle in New Hampshire, where independents and fiscal conservatives, not evangelicals, are the targets of Republican candidates.
Shortly after Huckabee's victory on Thursday, reporters surrounded Romney press secretary Kevin Madden in the filing center at the Des Moines Sheraton, peppering him with questions on how the campaign will move forward.
Madden described Romney's Iowa performance as "a very competitive finish in the top two" and insisted Romney is the "best candidate to continue past just Iowa" because he can appeal to both fiscal and social conservatives in the rest of the early states.
But Madden made clear that Romney faced a different rival in the Granite State.
"We're going into a position that is going to be a battle with John McCain in New Hampshire," he said.
(CNN) - The candidates, the press corps, the national parties may all be griping about 2008's incredibly early and compressed primary calendar - but it seems the rest of the country may not share those complaints, according to a new survey.
A Gallup poll released Friday found that 49 percent of the country thinks it's a good thing that the caucuses and primaries begin in January. Another 27 percent say it's neither good nor bad. Just 22 percent are troubled by the unprecedented early start to the presidential selection process.
The fact that the contest may be a relatively short sprint didn't seem to trouble a majority of those surveyed, either: 45 percent said it was a good thing that both parties' nominees would likely be known by early February, and 18 percent more said it would be neither good nor bad. Thirty-six percent said they'd like to see the process last longer.
Americans are less enthusiastic about the king-maker role now filled by Iowa and New Hampshire. While 26 percent thought it was a good thing that those two states always weighed in first, 28 percent thought it was a bad thing. Forty-four percent were ambivalent about the current arrangement.
But those surveyed appeared overwhelmingly unhappy about the fact that most of them may not get the chance to cast a meaningful presidential primary vote: 71 percent said that it was a bad thing that the nominees are usually determined before many states hold their primaries or caucuses. Just 11 percent said it was a good thing, and 17 percent said it was neither good nor bad.
The survey of 1,008 Americans was conducted December 10-13, 2007, and has a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.
–CNN Associate Political Editor Rebecca Sinderbrand