(CNN) - Days after she was the only major presidential candidate to appear on Michigan’s Democratic primary ballot, and four days before Florida’s voters head to the polls, Hillary Clinton has released a statement calling on her party to seat both states’ delegates at the national convention this summer.
Both Florida and Michigan had lost that privilege because of penalties arising from their decision to schedule their primaries in January, in violation of national party instructions.
“I hear all the time from people in Florida and Michigan that they want their voices heard in selecting the Democratic nominee,” Clinton said in a statement released by her campaign.
“I believe our nominee will need the enthusiastic support of Democrats in these states to win the general election, and so I will ask my Democratic convention delegates to support seating the delegations from Florida and Michigan,” she added.
“I know not all of my delegates will do so and I fully respect that decision. But I hope to be President of all 50 states and U.S. territories, and that we have all 50 states represented and counted at the Democratic convention.”
The major candidates, including Clinton and rivals Barack Obama and John Edwards, had promised not to campaign in either state following the Democratic National Committee’s decision, and Obama and Edwards did not appear on Michigan’s primary ballot. Despite calls from her opponents to remove her name from the ballot, Clinton did not follow suit, and she won the state’s primary January 15, with 55 percent of the vote.
On Monday, Clinton’s campaign condemned Barack Obama for running an ad on national cable news networks, including CNN, saying that the spot would air in Florida and violate the no-campaign pact agreed to by most of the Democratic field.
In Friday’s statement, Clinton called on her fellow nominees to join her – but said she would continue to abide by that pledge, and expected the rest of the presidential field to, as well.
The Obama campaign released a statement from campaign manager David Plouffe criticizing the move.
“When Sen. Clinton was campaigning in Iowa and New Hampshire, she made it clear that states like Michigan and Florida that wouldn’t produce any delegates, ‘don’t count for anything,'" he said.
He said Clinton was trying to "assign meaning to a contest that awards zero delegates and where no campaigning has occurred. Sen. Clinton’s own campaign has repeatedly said that this is a ‘contest for delegates,’ and Florida is a contest that offers zero."
- CNN Associate Political Editor Rebecca Sinderbrand
ABOARD THE ELECTION EXPRESS, ABILENE, Texas (CNN) – Lester Gilbert is 75, and he is still working. His wife is 81, and she has a job. The Gilberts don’t need to be employed, but they choose to work.
We met him in the early morning hours Friday at a truck stop as he refueled before getting back on the road. Gilbert delivers recreational vehicles for a living, and he said he is not happy with the decisions being made in Washington that are impacting the economy such as the bipartisan agreement reached Thursday on a stimulus package.
“It is OK to help people, but they put themselves in debt,” Gilbert said. “I didn’t do it, and I am going to bail them out? I don’t agree with it.”
As for the subprime mortgage issue, Gilbert said people need to personally pay the price if they are not able to afford their homes.
“Let them go belly up like I did. I never went belly, belly up, but I had to crawl and I had to do without. People don’t do without. That is the problem.”
Gilbert lives in Petersburg, Illinois, but his perspective on the economy is shaped by not only what happens in his own backyard, but what he sees as he motors down the nation’s interstate highways. Gilbert said he thinks that talk of a recession is overblown.
“It’s not weak like they think it is,” he said. “I go all over this country. People are not doing without.”
A self-described conservative, Gilbert said the politicians in Washington and presidential candidates need to change their tune.
“I want them to go back to the basics,” he said. “Just the basics.”
- CNN Political Editor Mark Preston
(CNN) - John Edwards launched a new ad in South Carolina Friday that highlights the heated back-and-forth between rivals Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama at Monday's CNN Debate in South Carolina.
The ad is the former North Carolina senator's latest effort to draw attention to the ongoing scuffle between his rivals, while painting himself as above the fray.
The 30-second spot, called 'Grown Up,' shows Obama taking a shot at Clinton for once serving on the board of Wal-Mart, and Clinton criticizing Obama's one-time connection to a Chicago slumlord. It ends with Edwards asking that the two candidates focus on the issues instead of political potshots.
The ad echoes comments Edwards has repeatedly made on the trail since the debate - that he represents "the grown up-wing of the Democratic Party."
"I do hope some of you got to see the debate in Myrtle Beach on Monday night," Edwards said at an event in Greenville, South Carolina Thursday night.
"I was proud in that debate to be able to represent the grown-up wing of the Democratic party. And as I said in that debate, all the petty personal squabbling is not going to get a single child health care, it's not going to get a single child the education they need, it's not going to send a single child to college, it's not going to create a single job here in South Carolina where it's so desperately needed."
- CNN Ticker Producer Alexander Mooney
(CNN) – During Thursday's GOP debate, John McCain was asked to respond to comments made by his notoriously outspoken mother Roberta during a C-SPAN interview taped yesterday.
Here are the remarks host Tim Russert was referring to, according to a transcript provided by the network:
C-SPAN’s Steve Scully: This is a political question in terms of how he gets the nomination, but just from what you have seen, how much support do you think he has among the base of the Republican Party?
Roberta McCain: I don't think he has any. I don't know what the base of the Repub–maybe I don't know enough about it, but I've not seen any help whatsoever.
Scully: So can he then go on and become the nominee of this party?
McCain: Yes, I think holding their nose they're going to have to take him.
Scully: Can you explain?
McCain: Well, everything they've done and said. ... Now I'm really popping off, but he worked like a dog to get Bush re-elected. ...He's backed Bush in everything except Rumsfeld. Have you heard other senators and congressmen backing Bush over eight years? Find me it–give me a name. I've not seen any public recognition of the work that he's done for the Republican Party.
Responding to his mother's comments Thursday night, Sen. McCain maintained he enjoys support among the Republican base, and said he is proud of his conservative record.
"I'm proud of the broad base of support. I will continue to work in every way to show people that I have a very, very conservative record," he said. "I'm proud to be a conservative."
–CNN Associate Political Editor Rebecca Sinderbrand
From CNN's Tom Foreman
(CNN)- Lily Tomlin had a great line. Actually, she had several, but the one I'm thinking of went something like this: "No matter how cynical you get, you just can't keep up."
I hear her saying it in my head every few days as I work here in Washington. I also hear voices telling me to make a baseball diamond in a cornfield, and occasionally I hear old radio shows through my fillings, but that's a different matter.
Anyway, Tomlin's words came to me again when I ran into this little item of Raw Politics. A liberal group is launching an $8.5 million campaign against President Bush. Mind you, he's not running for anything, but they are running against them anyway; trying to keep his approval rating from rising before his term in office ends.
The group is Americans United for Change, and their reasoning goes like this: Presidents often become more popular when they are closer to leaving office, and then they can influence congressional elections in favor of their party, and raise more money to fight the opposition, and yadda yadda. So this group wants to prevent that, by taking out ads saying the president has been a failure in pretty much all of his policies.
I understand the strategy. I know politics is a dirty business.
But wow. Is this what we've come to? Are we a nation where tearing the other side down, is so much more important than building your side up? Think of what could be accomplished with $8.5 million: in your neighborhood, at your kids' school, at a local clinic, shelter, or library. I'm not trying to be a sap about this. I know not every dollar can or will go to great ends, but the idea that so much would be raised just to make sure any president's legacy is doomed. And by the way, this president's legacy is in pretty rough shape as it is.
Lily was right. I'm trying to keep up. But it's hard.
What do you think: Should Americans United for Change go ahead with this plan?
CNN's Tom Foreman delivers the latest political news with a wry sense of a humor and no spin every weekday in his "Raw Politics" segment on "Anderson Cooper 360."
(CNN) – It’s a sound bite that probably wouldn’t play well without any context.
"Well, I'm not concerned about the voters," Mitt Romney said during Thursday’s presidential debate.
The statement came during a back and forth with moderator Tim Russert, after Romney was asked how much of his own money he has donated to his presidential campaign.
"We'll report that on the 31st of January, as required by law, and probably not a minute earlier. You'll just have to wait, Tim," Romney said.
"But why not tell the voters of Florida and across the country how much of your own wealth you're spending, so they can make a judgment and factor that into their own decision?" Russert responded.
"Well, I'm not concerned about the voters," Romney replied. "I'm much more concerned about the other guys on this stage. And we have some competitive information that we make sure that we use for our own benefit.
"But I can tell you this: I've raised more money than any other Republican in this race - raised more," he added. "Friends of mine have come together, people I knew in high school and helped raised money for me."
- CNN Ticker Producer Alexander Mooney
(CNN) - Earlier this week, martial arts star Chuck Norris questioned John McCain's ability to serve as president, because of the Arizona senator's age - at 72, he'd be the oldest first-term president in American history.
At Thursday night's debate, McCain had a response for the action star, who has endorsed Republican rival Mike Huckabee:
"Now that Sylvestor Stallone has endorsed me, I'm sending him over to take care of Chuck Norris right away."
–CNN Associate Political Editor Rebecca Sinderbrand
WASHINGTON (CNN) - At last night’s Republican debate in Florida, Rudy Giuliani told Tim Russert he’ll mount a come-from-behind win, like the New York Giants. Unfortunately, his recent finishes have looked a lot more like the New York Knicks.
Giuliani hopes to jumpstart his candidacy in Florida - a state that is crucial to his bid for the GOP presidential nomination. He directed his criticism at the Democrats seeking their party's nomination. And he wasn't the only White House hopeful on stage in the Sunshine State who was holding back from launching a full-out assault on his GOP rivals. There were a few sharp elbows, but none of the roundhouse punches the Democrats threw Monday night. In fact, the mood on-stage was, for the most part, oddly civil for a critical primary season faceoff. Even McCain (the new national front-runner, according to recent polls) and Romney (who told a crowd just hours before the debate that “most of the guns will be aimed at me”) escaped mostly unscathed.
It was the first debate of the post-Fred Thompson era, and it’s worth noting that his exit seems have had an unexpected effect on the race. Before he dropped out, some observers thought Mike Huckabee, who draws from the same evangelical base as Thompson, would benefit. Others predicted that John McCain, a close friend of the former Tennessee senator, would get a boost.
Still, while his chief fundraiser has joined Sen. John McCain's team already, Thompson has yet to back any of his former rivals – and the candidate who’s seen the biggest Florida gains since his exit has been Mitt Romney, with a small but significant uptick in the most recent surveys.
If Thompson were to back his former colleague McCain before Tuesday’s primary vote there, it might make a difference. But with the state’s primaries closed to independents, the Arizona senator has to be hoping the latest assessment from notoriously straight-talking mom Roberta McCain is off the mark this time. (When asked by C-SPAN’s Steve Scully this week how much support her son had from the GOP base, her immediate response was: “I don't think he has any.”)
- CNN Associate Political Editor Rebecca Sinderbrand
Compiled by Jonathan Helman
CNN Washington Bureau
The Miami Herald: Republicans keep it civil
With just five days to go before Florida's do-or-die Republican primary, Thursday's nationally televised debate could have been a bloodbath. Instead, it was more like a Rotary Club forum, with rivals doling out compliments and only the occasional polite disagreement. When the candidates posed questions to their rivals, they tossed Nerf balls.
Politico: McCain benefits as GOP on best behavior
Careful not to appear overly negative just days before Florida Republicans go to the polls, the GOP presidential hopefuls largely played nice at their debate here on Thursday night.
The State: Edwards rises in S.C. polls
With only a day left before Saturday’s S.C. Democratic presidential primary, the former U.S. senator from North Carolina and S.C. native, John Edwards is making a move, tracking polls suggest.
CNN: Kucinich getting out
Rep. Dennis Kucinich will announce he is abandoning his long shot bid for the White House in a news conference Friday, his campaign confirms to CNN.
WSJ: For Edwards, a Role as Possible Kingmaker
Indeed, the question among many Democratic Party officials is this: Why doesn't Mr. Edwards fold his presidential campaign tent, just as Rep. Dennis Kucinich formally plans to do today, and Joseph Biden, Christopher Dodd and Bill Richardson have already done?