In the latest episode of CNN=Politics Daily, Jessica Yellin reports from Las Vegas about the leading Democrats' focus on economic issues on the eve of the caucuses in Nevada. John King reports from Spartanburg, South Carolina about the high stakes for the Republican presidential hopefuls in the first southern primary of the 2008 presidential race.
Plus, Bill Schneider digs deep into the results of a new CNN/Opinion Research Corporation national poll. Find out who has benefited bickering between Sens. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.
Finally, it's Friday and that means it's time for Trail Mix - a look at some of the week's most memorable moments from the campaign trail.
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–CNN Associate Producer Martina Stewart
In comments he first introduced on the trail Thursday night, Obama chastised Clinton for trying to make an issue of the fact he admitted at a recent debate he is at times disorganized, and mocked both Clinton and John Edwards for what they offered as their "weaknesses."
– CNN's Alexander Mooney and Chris Welch
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Basketball legend Earvin "Magic" Johnson suggests Barack Obama is a "rookie" in a new Hillary Clinton campaign ad launched in South Carolina Friday, one week before the southern state holds its Democratic primary.
"We won our first game on a last-second shot," the former Los Angeles Lakers point guard says in the ad. "I was so hyped. But the captain of my team said, 'Take it easy rookie, it's a long season, it's a long road to the championship.' He was right."
(According to NBA.com, that sage veteran mentioned in the ad who offers advice to a young Johnson is none other than Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, who happens to be publicly supporting Obama.)
"Whether it's winning championships or a president who can lead us back to greatness, I'll always want the most prepared and experienced person leading my team," Johnson also says. "That's why I'm asking you to join me in voting for Hillary Clinton for President.
The basketball great fails to point out the Lakers won the NBA championship his rookie season and he was named Finals MVP.
Johnson endorsed Clinton earlier in the year and campaigned at her side in the days leading up to the Iowa caucuses. He has also been campaigning with Bill Clinton in Nevada this week, and taking subtle digs at the Illinois senator.
"We need somebody who's not preaching hope," he said at one stop on Thursday. "We need somebody who understands that there's a problem, and they're preaching solutions."
– CNN's Peter Hamby and Alex Mooney
RENO, Nevada (CNN) – Presenting himself Friday as the candidate who can make the correct decisions the first time around, Barack Obama cranked up his criticism of Hillary Clinton, hitting her on issues from the war in Iraq to the economy.
"Sen. Clinton has said she is ready to lead from day one," the Illinois senator said, "but it's important on day one to get it right, whether you're talking about war or you're talking about economic proposals."
Obama often tells crowds that he has the judgment needed to serve as president, and adds that he was against the war from the beginning.
At a Reno campaign stop Friday, he also said that his initial economic stimulus package was the right plan, since it included tax relief for middle-class Americans, while Clinton's did not.
"Today, five days after she released her plan, she said 'Well, you know what? We need a tax rebate,' because now apparently she agrees with me."
Obama said he was using that example to illustrate a larger problem that he called "political speak."
"It is easy to be for policies that help working families when its popular on the campaign trail, but the American people don't want a president whose plans change with the politics of the moment."
"This is what you learn in Washington from all those years of experience," Obama added. "It means that the American people are constantly having to sort out what do people really mean."
"It's why people mistrust our politics. And part of my job in this race is to restore people's sense that you say what you mean and you mean what you say."
–CNN Political Producer Chris Welch
ELKO, Nevada (CNN) – Hillary Clinton expressed concern that undue union pressure might play a role in Saturday’s Nevada caucuses, saying that some members are being told they should either caucus for a particular candidate, or just stay home.
“I have some concerns about the process, and I want to be really clear about this to everyone. I am afraid that some people may feel that they can't come, or they shouldn't come, or they can't support the candidate of their choice,” Clinton said at an Elko, Nevada campaign event Friday.
“We know that there are some unions in the south that are telling people who to caucus for... so I am calling on all the candidates and all of the unions to make it clear to their supporters and members that people in Nevada - a free and independent state with a very independent people - are free to stand up for the candidate of their choice,” she said, adding that “There should be no interference with anybody's right to caucus.'
Clinton has been endorsed by twice as many Nevada unions as John Edwards, and more than twice as many as Barack Obama. But the 60,000-member Culinary Workers Union, which has endorsed Obama, dwarfs the others combined in size.
Some of Clinton’s supporters recently filed an unsuccessful lawsuit over caucus voting at casino sites, where many Culinary Workers Union members are employed.
–CNN Senior Political Producer Mike Roselli
(CNN) - Around the clock campaigning has replaced sleep for most of the presidential candidates. In the latest edition of American Votes 2008, watch the candidates battle it out for their causes.
Related: Saturday’s Presidential primary in South Carolina is the first southern state to weigh in on the race to the White House. Listen to CNN’s Bill Caiaccio and Todd Shaw, a University of South Carolina associate professor of political science and African American studies, analyze what’s at stake for the Republican presidential candidates in South Carolina.
President Reagan is causing a debate in the Democratic presidential race. (Photo Credit: Getty Images/AFP)
(CNN) - Republican presidential candidates often battle to outdo each other on who can invoke Ronald Reagan most often - but the former president's name is not nearly as welcome on the Democratic side.
Campaigning in union-heavy Nevada Thursday, John Edwards took direct aim at Barack Obama for "using Ronald Reagan as an example of change," and said he himself would never praise the Republican icon that way.
“He was openly - openly - intolerant of unions and the right to organize. He openly fought against the union and the organized labor movement in this country," Edwards said during a campaign event in Henderson, Nevada. "He openly did extraordinary damage to the middle class and working people, created a tax structure that favored the very wealthiest Americans and caused the middle class and working people to struggle every single day. The destruction of the environment, you know, eliminating regulation of companies that were polluting and doing extraordinary damage to the environment.”
“I can promise you this: this president will never use Ronald Reagan as an example for change," he added.
Obama told the editorial board of the Reno-Journal Gazette Monday he didn't view himself as the transformative figure Ronald Reagan was.
"I think Ronald Reagan changed the trajectory of America in a way that Richard Nixon did not and in a way that Bill Clinton did not," Obama said. "He put us on a fundamentally different path because the country was ready for it. I think they felt like with all the excesses of the 1960s and 1970s and government had grown and grown but there wasn't much sense of accountability in terms of how it was operating. I think people, he just tapped into what people were already feeling, which was we want clarity we want optimism, we want a return to that sense of dynamism and entrepreneurship that had been missing."
Obama's campaign has said the Illinois senator disagrees with much of what Reagan did, and he was merely pointing out that the former president changed the political landscape.
Edwards' comments come as he battles to win support from union members in Nevada who will heavily influence the Democratic caucuses this Saturday. Recent polls suggest all three Democrats are in a tight race there.
While Reagan had a rocky relationship at best with the major unions during his presidency, he once actually led a union himself. The onetime actor was the president of the Screen Actors Guild from 1947-52 and again in 1959.
– CNN Ticker Producer Alexander Mooney
(CNN) - Sen. Hillary Clinton has lost a large amount of support among African-Americans, with a majority of black Democrats now supporting Sen. Barack Obama, according to a new poll out Friday.
In a national survey by CNN/Opinion Research Corp., 59 percent of black Democrats backed Obama, an Illinois Democrat, for their party's presidential nomination, with 31 percent supporting Clinton, the senator from New York.
The 28 point lead for Obama is a major reversal from October, when Clinton held a 24 point lead among black Democrats.
You know things are really getting ugly out there on the campaign trail when the candidates start going after the media. And that's exactly what's happening now.
First, there was that heated exchange between Bill Clinton and a local TV reporter in California. The former president got visibly annoyed when the reporter asked him about the decision to allow caucuses in the Las Vegas casinos where a lot of Barack Obama's supporters work.
Enter Republican candidate Mitt Romney. When he was asked about the role of lobbyists in his campaign by an AP reporter yesterday, he became defensive. Said he doesn't have no stinkin' lobbyists running his campaign. What he does have is a high-level adviser who is also the chairman of a large communications firm. Oh.
And John Edwards is whining about the media, too. His campaign is launching a full-on assault on the media for what they claim is inadequate and unfair press coverage.
To read more and contribute to the Cafferty File discussion click here
(CNN) - John Edwards said Friday that Barack Obama needs to “speak up, if he really means what he says” about ending divisive politics and denounce a Nevada ad funded by an independent group that supports the Illinois senator’s presidential bid.
The spot, running on Spanish-language radio in the state, criticizes Hillary Clinton for a lawsuit filed by some of her Nevada supporters that had sought new restrictions workplace caucus sites this Saturday. The buy is funded by the Unite Here Campaign Committee on behalf of the Culinary Workers Union, which has endorsed Obama.
"Everyone pledged that this kind of divisive politics that divides the Democratic Party, and could divide America, would come to an end. Sen. Obama made that pledge, I was sitting five feet from him when he made it," Edwards told the crowd at a Nevada campaign event.
“And now it turns out that in the last 24 hours there's a radio ad, a malicious radio ad, attacking Sen. Clinton. That is exactly the kind of divisive politics. It's being run right here, in Las Vegas. I denounce it. This kind of ad, I don't care who's doing it - in this case it's Sen. Obama's supporters - but this sort of thing needs to stop.
“And from what I've seen, Sen. Obama has not said a single word about this. Nothing. When two days ago, three days ago, he said on a stage in front of America and said, 'This kind of politics has no place in America,’” said Edwards.
“He should speak up, if he really means what he says, and this is not just talk, he should speak up and denounce this type of divisive politics.”
John Edwards was criticized by Obama in Iowa for not calling an independent group that supported the former North Carolina senator to demand they pull ads they were running in support of his candidacy.
The Obama campaign has not yet responded to Friday’s remarks from Edwards.
On Thursday, the Clinton and Edwards campaigns both took aim at Obama over the ad, which refers to the recent lawsuit over casino caucus sites by supporters of the New York senator’s presidential bid, saying it shows that “Hillary Clinton does not respect our people. …Hillary Clinton is shameless. Hillary Clinton should not allow her friends to attack our people’s right to vote this Saturday.”
The spot also praises Obama, saying that “Sen. Obama is defending our right to vote. … He respects our votes, our community, and our people.”
The Clinton campaign has expressed frustration with the fact that the spots are continuing to run, even though a judge ruled against the suit.