Edwards appeared on Letterman's show Tuesday (Photo Credit: AP)
(CNN) - John Edwards is used to taking hits on the campaign trail, but Tuesday night, his hair got the toughest treatment.
At the end of Edwards’ appearance on The Late Show with David Letterman, the talk show host had just one request of the well-coiffed former North Carolina senator. "Could I just mess your hair up a little bit?" he asked.
"You want to? Go ahead," responded Edwards.
To the delight of the studio audience, each man made a grab for the others’ hair. By the end, the Democratic candidate's normally well-combed trim jutted out in every direction. Letterman later tried unsuccessfully to put it back in place.
Edwards’ mane last grabbed headlines last April when his campaign's Federal Election Commission report disclosed he had spent $400 on two separate occasions for a haircut. The North Carolina Democrat quickly reimbursed his campaign for the pricey cuts, and said he would not spend that much on them in the future.
– CNN Ticker Producer Alexander Mooney
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Vice President Dick Cheney warned Congress Wednesday that a "day of reckoning" is near if it doesn't soon pass a bill to replace an expiring law that expanded the government's ability to conduct warrantless surveillance of suspected terrorists.
In a speech before the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank, Cheney called on lawmakers to make permanent the temporary changes that helped close a gap in the intelligence community's ability to gather information important to national security.
Last August, Congress hurriedly passed the Protect America Act (PAA) after the Director of National Intelligence told the lawmakers that technology changes had hampered the ability to collect intelligence against terrorists. The law expires February 1.
The vice president also pushed Congress to give immunity to telecommunications companies who assist the government in the warrantless eavesdropping on terrorists believed to be overseas even if those calls should involve conversations with people in the United States.
ABOARD THE ELECTION EXPRESS, Birmingham, Alabama (CNN) – The cost of diesel was $3.26 a gallon Wednesday at the Pilot Travel Center, but the biggest concern for independent trucker Charles Dye wasn’t the price of fuel. It was NAFTA.
When Dye first got behind the wheel of his rig eight years ago, the 28-year-old said he grossed $180,000. Last year, Dye said he made $65,000 before expenses - barely enough to live on as he ran roofing oil between Memphis, Tennessee and Savannah, Georgia. He is on the road 20 days a month.
Because he is an independent contractor, Dye has to purchase his own health insurance. Right now, he is not covered. Luckily, the mother of his four-year-old child does have insurance, which helps alleviate the financial burden.
The North American Free Trade Agreement, which loosened restrictions on goods and services between the U.S., Mexico and Canada, is to blame for the hit he is taking in the wallet, he said.
“It was hard for me to make a living last year other than the years before, because of the way they opened the borders and let the trucks come over and practically do work for nothing,” he said, as the gasoline flowed from the pump into his rig.
WASHINGTON (CNN) – Democrat Barack Obama stepped up his efforts Tuesday to battle back against e-mails that falsely label him a Muslim, telling an interviewer the ongoing rumors were part of a "systematic political strategy."
"I think it's very important for people not to buy into the kinds of dirty tricks that we've become so accustomed to in our politics, and people need to understand I'm not and never have been of the Muslim faith," he told CBN's David Brody.
Related video: Obama confronts Muslim rumors
In e-mail messages that have been circulating as long as Obama has been a presidential candidate, the Illinois senator is said be a Muslim who refuses to recite the pledge of allegiance, and one who "joined the United Church of Christ in an attempt to downplay his Muslim background." In fact, Obama has never been a Muslim.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Republican John McCain won the backing of Ret. Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf Wednesday, an endorsement that could aid the Arizona senator in his efforts to court Florida's sizeable veteran population.
"Sen. John McCain has served our country with honor in war and in peace," Schwarzkopf said in a statement released by McCain's campaign. "He has demonstrated the type of courageous leadership our country sorely needs at this time. For that reason, he has my complete support."
Schwarzkopf served as commander of coalition forces in the first Gulf War in 1991. He currently lives in Florida, the delegate rich-state that's set to hold its Republican primary next Tuesday.
– CNN Ticker Producer Alexander Mooney
(CNN) - Ever since we got into the thick of the presidential race, reporters, anchors, pundits, columnists and writers have spent a considerable amount of time on the fact that nearly 50 percent of the people who will vote in the South Carolina primary are black.
Considering you have a black male candidate - he's really half white (mom) and half Kenyan (dad), but identifies himself as African-American - and a white woman - who is the wife of a former president beloved by black folks - leading the pack for the Democratic nomination, everyone has been waiting to see how this fight will turn out.
But for the life of me, I don't understand - and have been literally screaming this fact on CNN, on my Chicago, Illinois, radio show and on every possible platform I have - how we can focus on blacks making up nearly 50 percent of the voters, and absolutely, positively, unequivocally ignore the other 50 percent!
Note: Watch Roland Martin on CNN.com Live at 11:10 am ET Wednesday.
PENSACOLA, Florida (CNN) - For John McCain, northwest Florida is full of memories.
"How proud I am to have gone through pilot training here," the former naval aviator tells a crowd in Pensacola, near a naval air station where he trained decades ago after graduating from the U.S. Naval Academy.
The senator from Arizona laughs as he recalls the "various cultural establishments" he visited as a young man and adds: "My entire paycheck every month was dedicated to helping the economy of Pensacola."
– CNN Chief National Correspondent John King
ABOARD THE ELECTION EXPRESS, Atlanta (CNN) - Once he gets access to the Internet, Lavvy Deondre is confident he will be able to turn his life around.
Deondre is relatively new to Atlanta, and he doesn’t own a computer. Every night he finds a new place to rest his head. Deondre is homeless, but he is also optimistic. He just needs the Internet.
“I want access to the Internet, search the Internet and then try to make some plans to come up with an idea,” Deondre said late Tuesday night as a cold rain soaked his clothes, but clearly not his spirit.
Ali Velshi and I ran into him after talking with several international businessmen following our 400 mile drive from Myrtle Beach, South Carolina – the first leg of our cross-country journey to hear what is on voters’ minds.
The two conversations couldn’t have been anymore different. While the group of businessmen talked about how the impact of the U.S. markets affected the global economy, Deondre said the need to build affordable, safe housing was his top priority.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - All the pieces were there, from base-pleasing social stands to an undeniable (and inescapable) TV presence. But somehow, Fred Thompson’s campaign whole was never the sum of its parts – with a sell-by date that passed long before Saturday’s disappointing South Carolina showing.
The remaining Republican contenders are all staking their claim to their share of Florida real estate today - though Rudy Giuliani yesterday downgraded the state he’d wagered his presidential bid on from a “must-win” to a mere “important win” (a distinction that may be raising the question in the minds of some of his donors: just when does the White House hopeful believe it’s absolutely necessary to start, you know, winning something?)
Meanwhile, John McCain’s strong showing on the former mayor’s home turf in New York polls released this week – and the Arizona senator’s trip to the Big Apple yesterday to pick up a million dollars’ worth of campaign cash - can’t help Giuliani’s frame of mind heading into that Super Tuesday contest.
On the Democratic side: Barack Obama’s tough new persona is out in full force, with the Illinois senator telling the Christian Broadcasting Network last night that the waves of below-the-radar e-mail rumors that have hounded his campaign for months are part of a “systematic political strategy,” conveniently timed according to the primary calendar.
In more socially-acceptable slash-and-burn campaign news, Hillary Clinton’s oppo team went into overdrive with yesterday’s effort. The approach: Why bet the news cycle on just one attack of the day when you can send out half a dozen, all helpfully summarized and bullet-pointed in a single e-mail?
– CNN Associate Political Editor Rebecca Sinderbrand
Compiled by Jonathan Helman
CNN Washington Bureau
CNN: Thompson abandons White House bid
Former Sen. Fred Thompson on Tuesday ended his run for the presidency, coming off the heels of a disappointing third-place finish in South Carolina's GOP primary and heading into the showdown state of Florida next week.
Washington Post: Clinton Now Looking Beyond S.C.
The next Democratic presidential nominating contest will take place in South Carolina on Saturday, but Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton has already turned her full attention to places such as this: delegate-rich pockets of states that will vote in a tidal wave of primaries two weeks from now.
NY Times: Huckabee, Short on Cash, Curtails Effort in Florida
Before he won the Iowa Republican caucuses, Mike Huckabee told voters that sending him to victory would forever debunk the conventional wisdom that money could decide a presidential race.
Boston Globe: Rocky Fla. economy altering political landscape
The Republican presidential field may find the political ground shifting under its feet in Florida, where the faltering economy is fast surpassing national security as the cutting issue in next week's primary, when GOP voters could clear up the blurred contest for the party's nomination.