Obama is calling for an end to the heated back and forth between the two campaigns. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)
RENO, Nevada (CNN) - Barack Obama is calling for a truce of sorts with rival Hillary Clinton following days of a heated back-and-forth between both the Democrats' presidential campaigns over Clinton's record on civil rights.
“I may disagree with Sen. Clinton or Sen. Edwards on how to get things done or how to get there, but we share the same goals, we're all Democrats, we all believe in civil rights, we all believe in equal rights," Obama said told reporters in Reno, Nevada.
The comments follow several days of heated rhetoric from both campaigns following Clinton's remarks to a reporter last week on the legacies of slain civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. "Dr. King's dream began to be realized when President Lyndon Johnson passed the Civil Rights Act of 1964. It took a president to get it done," she said, in her continued argument that her experience shows she can get more done as president than Obama.
Some African-American leaders criticized the remarks as denigrating the civil rights movement and Dr. King. The criticisms were amplified by Obama's campaign and Clinton later said she was "personally offended" the campaign was "distorting her words."
Meanwhile, speaking at a Clinton campaign event Sunday, BET founder Bob Johnson lashed out at Obama's campaign over the criticism, and seemed to take a swipe at the Illinois senator's admitted drug use as a young man.
"As an African-American, I'm frankly insulted that the Obama campaign would imply that we are so stupid that we would think Bill and Hillary Clinton, who have been deeply and emotionally involved in black issues when Barack Obama was doing something in the neighborhood that I won't say what he was doing, but he said it in his book," he said..
Johnson later claimed he was not referencing Obama's past drug use specifically, but was referring rather to his time as a community organizer.
Speaking Monday, Obama said he wanted to end the current "tit-for-tat" with Clinton.
"I don't want the campaign in this stage to degenerate into so much tit-for-tat back-and-forth that we lose sight why all of us are doing this," he said. "If I hear my own supporters engaging in talk that I think is ungenerous or misleading, or in some way is unfair, then I will speak out forcefully against them, and I hope the other campaigns take the same approach."
Shortly after Obama's comments, Clinton released a statement saying it's time to "reach common ground."
"We differ on a lot of things. And it is critical to have the right kind of discussion on where we stand. But when it comes to civil rights and our commitment to diversity, when it comes to our heroes – President John F. Kennedy and Dr. King – Senator Obama and I are on the same side," the New York Democrat said. “And in that spirit, let's come together, because I want more than anything else to ensure that our family stays together on the front lines of the struggle to expand rights for all Americans.”
– CNN's Alexander Mooney and Chris Welch
WASHINGTON (CNN) - I must say I was stunned by the amazing reaction to my request Friday for suggested questions for the upcoming Democratic Presidential debate that CNN is co-sponsoring with the Congressional Black Caucus Institute in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina next Monday night, January 21. So far, we have received some 2,000 comments. I am not surprised that almost all of them were serious and well-informed.
I have always had high confidence in our CNN viewers. I know you are smart because you wouldn’t be watching The Situation Room and all of our other CNN political coverage if you weren’t. There are simply too many other options available to all of you - ranging from sitcoms, to sports, to silly talk shows. Our viewers are intelligent and that certainly came through with your comments. You can take a look at them yourself. If you take the time, you too will be impressed.
Let me assure you that our team is going through all of these suggested questions, and we will select some of them for the debate. We will also use your ideas to formulate some other questions. You’ve raised serious issues and Suzanne Malveaux, Joe Johns and I are taking them very seriously. This has been a great opportunity for us to know what is on your minds, and we are grateful to you for the help.
Throughout my journalistic career, I have always cherished the fact that I am blessed with a front-row seat to history. I have the opportunity and privilege to ask important newsmakers tough and important questions. In the process, I see myself as our viewers’ representative. You might not have that chance, but I do - and I take it very seriously.
By the way, if you'd like to see some of the questions already asked, you can read them by clicking here. Thanks again.
–CNN Anchor Wolf Blitzer
It's a sensitive question for McCain in South Carolina, where his presidential campaign in 2000 was famously derailed by an onslaught of negative attacks.
On Monday, after his campaign in that state sent out a mailer blasting Romney's record on taxes and accusing him of supporting taxpayer funded abortions, McCain faced a flurry of questions about the brochure from campaign reporters.
Who struck first? Romney's campaign, which originally circulated the mail piece to reporters on Saturday, points the finger at team McCain, calling the mailer a "hit piece."
McCain, campaigning in Michigan, told CNN he was playing defense against prior Romney attacks.
NEW YORK (CNN) – New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg would not rule out a presidential run in 2008 Monday, amid mounting reports that his aides have been gathering research on whether he can win.
Bloomberg tried to deflect the question Monday, pointing out that he was not currently an official presidential contender. "I've said this before. You would think that people would get tired of the answer. I'm not a candidate for President of the United States,” Bloomberg told reporters at an event at Harlem Renaissance High School.
But he would not say he was not planning a run.
The Associated Press reported on Wednesday that Bloomberg is paying for heavy polling and voter analysis in every state.
A source close to Bloomberg told CNN last week that data assessing Bloomberg’s chances had been collected, but not yet analyzed, and that the mayor might make his decision on a presidential run by early March.
(CNN) – California is the biggest prize on "Super Tuesday," with 540 delegates in both parties at stake. But with just more than three weeks until the February 5 primary, a poll suggests the front-runner in California, at least among Republicans, appears to be indecision.
A CNN/Los Angeles Times/Politico poll released Monday indicates 61 percent of likely Republican primary voters have yet to make up their minds. Thirty-nine percent of those polled said their vote is certain.
The numbers are the opposite for likely Democratic primary voters, with 62 percent of those polled certain on their choice and 38 percent indicating they may vote for someone else.
Giuliani is focusing most of his resources on Florida's January 29 primary (Photo Credit: AP)
WASHINGTON (CNN) – Republican Rudy Giuliani has enjoyed Florida nearly all to himself over the last several weeks as most of his rivals battled it out in the earlier-voting states, but a new poll out of the state Monday suggests the former New York City mayor's onetime dominant lead there may have evaporated.
According to a new Quinnipiac Poll, John McCain has the top spot in Florida with 22 percent. Rudy Giuliani is a razor-thin 2 points back at 20 percent. Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee are essentially tied with Romney at 19 percent. Fred Thompson is at 7 percent.
Giuliani has focused the majority of his campaign resources in Florida, which votes January 29, deciding to largely bypass many of the states that vote earlier in the presidential primary calendar but are worth significantly les delegates.
In an interview Sunday, Giuliani said Florida - with a large population of transplanted New Yorkers - was a state that naturally favored his candidacy.
"The reality is as these primaries played out, certain people were very strong in some, and you had to look for the opportunity where you had the best chance to demonstrate your strength," he said. "And it turned out that the analysis was that Florida was the best place for us to do it."
– CNN Ticker Producer Alexander Mooney
DETROIT, Michigan (CNN) -– Republican Mitt Romney addressed the Detroit Economic Club on Monday, telling the assembled business leaders, “What Michigan is feeling will be felt by the entire nation unless we win the economic battle here.”
“Michigan is a bit like the canary in the mineshaft. What's hurting Michigan,” he continued, “will imperil the entire nation's economy."
The central focus of Romney’s pitch to Michigan voters has been getting the state out of what Romney calls a “one-state recession.” Many manufacturing plants in Michigan have either cut back their work force or shut down all together, resulting in the country’s highest unemployment rate, 7.4 percent.
“It is inexcusable to me to see these jobs going away again, and again and again,” Romney said outside a GM plant that had just announced 200 layoffs. “Where does it stop? Is there a point at which someone says ‘you know, that’s enough?’”
For one brief moment after Barack Obama won the Iowa caucuses, it looked like we might have actually outgrown our petty racial bickering in this country.
It didn't matter that Obama had run a dignified, intelligent campaign without so much as the mention of race. The people who have an interest in keeping the country divided along racial lines couldn't wait to get started. Do you realize how many morons would go through the rest of their lives ignored and irrelevant if we could ever get over the racial garbage?
Now the racial fires are burning brightly once again.
The last two days, we've seen the Obama and Clinton camps embroiled in accusations that are steeped in race. Hillary Clinton is defending her recent remarks on civil rights. She's suggesting that Obama's campaign distorted what she said in an effort to inject race into the contest.
For his part, Obama has dismissed Clinton's suggestion, saying "the notion that somehow this is our doing is ludicrous." Obama is also describing her earlier comments about the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. as "unfortunate" and "ill-advised."
To read more and contribute to the Cafferty File discussion click here
(CNN) - John McCain – who had vowed to avoid negative campaigning – defended his decision to send out a campaign mailer in South Carolina attacking Republican rival Mitt Romney, describing the move as a defensive measure.
“We had to respond to negative campaigning,” the Arizona senator told reporters after a campaign event in Kalamazoo, Michigan.
“Now, we won’t go tit-for-tat, but we will respond, and we will make clear that this kind of negative campaigning didn’t work for him in Iowa when he attacked Governor Huckabee, didn’t work in New Hampshire when his campaign attacked me, and I don’t think it’s going to work in Michigan where he’s attacking me, and it won’t work in South Carolina.
“So, we will respond in a very forceful fashion because we know unfortunately that these charges have to be responded to, but we’re not going to go tit-for-tat with him.”
He added, “…There’s a stack of mailers this high that attack me, literally this high that have flooded South Carolina for the last six months.”
He also dismissed the idea that the mailer was not a response to a Romney charge, but a fresh attack of his own against the former Massachusetts governor.
“It’s not negative campaigning,” McCain said. “I think it’s what his record is, particularly his positions on many issues… It’s a tough business. I said it in the debate the other night. It’s a tough business for all the candidates that are running. When millions of dollars are spent attacking us, we are going to have to respond.”
South Carolina's Republican presidential primary will be held this Saturday.
–CNN’s Dana Bash and Rebecca Sinderbrand