(CNN) – Former Solicitor General Ted Olson will endorse John McCain Friday, a source close to the Arizona senator tells CNN.
Olson, who had supported Rudy Giuliani's White House bid, is a well respected conservative, particularly with respect to judicial appointments. He's a member of the highly regarded Federalist Society - an organization that promotes the teaching of state's rights and a limited federal government in the nation's best law schools.
Olson also helped steer the 2000 Florida recount effort on behalf of President Bush, and served as member of the Reagan Justice Department.
The endorsement will be a welcome one for McCain, who continues to face distrust from many of his Party’s most conservative quarters. Olson has connections to many of the Arizona Republican's harshest critics, and is likely able to make inroads with some of them.
– CNN's Dana Bash
(CNN)—Thursday night’s CNN/LATimes/Politico Democratic debate was a historic event not only because the field has narrowed - leaving a choice of an African America or a female Democratic nominee - but because Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton appeared to have called a truce. The two seemed to combine their efforts and threw their punches at the Republican Party.
Immigration, healthcare and the war in Iraq took center stage at the Kodak Theatre. All the while, a group of undecided male and female Democratic voters reacted in real time to the candidates’ responses.
The red line graph represents voter approval or disapproval of their responses as the debate progressed.
Overall, 60 percent of the undecided voters weighing in thought Clinton showed more strength Thursday night than Obama. However, they did feel Obama did best on the topic of Iraq.
People meter: Watch Obama and Clinton battle their healthcare packages
People meter: Watch Obama discuss his plan to curb illegal immigration
People meter: Watch Clinton discuss her Iraq war strategy
People meter: Watch Obama pitch his plan to handle foreign threats
Related: CNN's Erica Hill reports undecided voters had the strongest response over criticism of the Republicans
–CNN's Emily Sherman
LOS ANGELES (CNN) – CNN announced Thursday that it will partner with the Ohio Democratic Party and the Ohio Republican Party for back-to-back presidential debates at the end of February.
With the race for each party nomination likely to extend beyond the February 5 Super Tuesday contests, it’s increasingly possible the critical battleground state of Ohio – which holds its presidential primary March 4, along with three other states - could very well determine the 2008 Democratic and Republican nominees.
"Ohio will once again decide who wins the White House,” said Ohio Democratic Party Chairman Chris Redfern. “The Ohio Democratic debate is important because it will allow the next President of the United States to address the issues most important to Ohioans."
Republican Party Deputy Chairman Kevin DeWine also highlighted the state’s potential kingmaker status. "No Republican has ever won the White House without winning Ohio,” said DeWine. “It's a critical battleground state in November that could play a deciding role on March 4. We're proud to partner with CNN on this debate in advance of what could be a decisive primary election in the Buckeye State."
The Democratic debate will take place Wednesday, February 27, while the Republican debate will follow on Thursday, February 28. The network said further details will be released soon.
She’s arguing that she supported the threat of force as a means of avoiding conflict. That’s a complicated case to make – and it still leaves the question: why did she think President Bush had the same judgment she did?
But here’s a new angle she hasn’t used before in these debates: that she would never have contemplated an invasion of Iraq. It’s another way of trying to draw a distinction between her views and the president’s. She’s running from the past.
–CNN Senior Political Analyst Bill Schneider
Former President Clinton campaigned for his wife in New Jersey recently. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)
Hollywood loves the core of Obama’s answer on the sex and violence in media issue: don’t blame producers, blame the parents. He doesn’t let them off the hook, but he does argue their case somewhat.
Meanwhile, Clinton’s having trouble with a tougher question – and a unique problem for her. Obama doesn’t have to deal with the specter of a former president in the White House alongside the new commander-in-chief. There’s a lot of evasiveness in her response.
Related: Hillary Clinton says she's running for president–not Bill
– CNN Senior Political Analyst Bill Schneider
The Republican argument makes an appearance: the surge is working, let’s stay the course. And Obama makes the counter-argument – and does it very well, questioning the measure of progress. How much has really been made? His message: The longer we stay, the more our security is threatened. He really gets this issue.
The heart of his pitch has been his judgment vs. her experience. It’s very powerful, and on this issue, their differences are clear. Meanwhile, she sounds like a typical politician.
Obama’s given a great answer on Iraq. If he’s the nominee, this issue will likely prove the biggest contrast with his Republican opponent. Clinton’s playing catch-up on this issue.
Her answers on Iraq are very complex and indirect. The core of this debate in the general election will be this: Democrats are arguing that, despite Republican claims, that staying in Iraq endangers far more than leaving ever could. That’s a very good argument – and he’s prepared to make it. Her answers aren’t as clear, and don’t play as well with the base. On this issue, she appears very political and calculated. And the question lingers: why did she ever trust President Bush?
Still: he’s not using their differences to score points – clearly, neither is spoiling for a fight.
Schneider: Clinton is vulnerable on the issue of Iraq. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)
It took more than an hour for Iraq to make a real appearance, other than Obama’s brief mention earlier. Once again, Clinton is pointing out their similarities – but this time, it’s a necessity. She’s vulnerable here.
Among Democrats, Obama always wins on this issue. His position is clearer, and he has far less baggage.
The question of the past vs. the future keeps raising its head – this time in a question that raises the dynastic concerns in the minds of many Americans: nearly three straight decades of a Bush or a Clinton on the presidential ballot.
Clinton turns the question on its head, repeating a pithy campaign trail formulation that always resonates with Democratic audiences: it takes a Clinton to clean up after a Bush.
The happiest man this evening? Howard Dean. So far tonight, the Democratic party is the big winner. This debate clearly beats last night’s debate. But if you’re trying to use the forum to decide which candidate to support, you might come away more uncertain than ever.
Related: Watch Hillary Clinton take a dig at President Bush
Clinton’s trying to say she can match Obama Kennedy for Kennedy – but in this Kennedy family feud, Obama’s got the edge.
So she tries to steer the argument back to stronger turf: the ability to fight. She’s been through the wars, she’s saying - she can withstand anything the Republicans throw her way.
Obama counters with his strength: bringing in new voters. And framing the choice as the past vs. the future. He could use this question - about the 90s – as an opportunity to bring up the Clinton Wars of the 90s. He isn’t – in part because he wants to preserve the evening’s conciliatory tone.