Setting aside recent tensions with Sen. Clinton and her husband, Sen. Barack Obama played the perfect gentleman and pulled out the chair of his only remaining rival on Thursday night.(Photo Credit: Associated Press)
We want your real-time reactions to what Obama and Clinton are saying. Do agree or disagree? Who's making the most persuasive arguments? Are they addressing the issues or just being combative? Who's dodging the questions? What would you ask the candidates? Sound off by adding your comment below.
(CNN) - Barack Obama has demonstrated his appeal to independent voters and even some Republicans as he campaigns for president, though a just-released study from the National Journal indicates the Illinois Democrat was the most liberal senator in 2007.
Chief rival Hillary Clinton held the 16th most liberal voting record last year, the non-partisan survey of 99 major Senate votes found.
The study also shows both senators have moved to the left compared to previous years. In 2005 - Obama's first year in the Senate - he was ranked the 16th most liberal, and he came in at number 10 in 2006. Hillary Clinton has long held a moderate voting record: she debuted on the list at number 25 in 2001, and has been as high as 34. In 2006, the New York senator was ranked 32.
Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry, now a supporter of Obama, held the same distinction in 2003, the year he spent campaigning for the Democratic nomination. His high ranking was later used by Bush's re-election campaign to paint Kerry as an out-of-touch liberal.
"Ted Kennedy is the more conservative of the two senators from Massachusetts," Vice President Dick Cheney often said on the campaign trail, citing the study. The Republican National Committee also ran an ad against Kerry called "risky" in which an announcer said, "John Kerry…The most liberal man in the Senate. The most liberal person to ever run for president."
Kerry called the rating a "laughable characterization," and disputed its accuracy, pointing out that he missed 37 of the 62 votes on which the survey was based because he was campaigning for president. The publication has since raised the number of votes a senator must take to be included in the study.
Obama may be able to make a similar argument. According to the study, he missed 33 of the 99 votes that constituted the analysis. Clinton missed 16 of the votes.
But the details of the study suggest the Clinton and Obama's voting records are not as far apart as they appear in the rankings. Of the 65 votes included in the study that both senators were present for, they only differed twice - on a measure that sought to establish an Office of Public Integrity to handle ethics complaints (Clinton voted no, Obama yes), and on a measure that sought to allow certain immigrants to stay in the united states while renewing their visas (again, Clinton voted no and Obama yes).
Responding to the study, Obama spokesman Bill Burton said, "Only in Washington can you get falsely attacked for being like Reagan one week and labeled the most liberal the next. The tendency of Washington to apply a misleading label to every person and idea is just one of the many things we need to change about how things operate inside the beltway."
The full study is set to be released in March. The National Journal also notes Sen. John McCain, who is criticized by conservatives for some of his positions, did not take enough votes last year to qualify for the survey.
- CNN Producer Alexander Mooney
LOS ANGELES (CNN) - The Republican candidates met Wednesday night just days before the make-or-break Super Tuesday primaries with a new national frontrunner – John McCain – and an old rivalry, between the Arizona senator and Mitt Romney, meeting again after a pair of hard-fought campaigns in South Carolina and Florida.
In both contests, McCain scored wins, with former Massachusetts Gov. Romney as runner-up.
Wednesday night's debate, which aired on CNN, was the fourth most-watched primary-season faceoff in cable news history, according to early Nielsen data.
So far this cycle, CNN has broken that record three times, and hosted the four most-watched presidential primary debates in cable news history.
More than 4 million viewers tuned in to see the remaining GOP presidential candidates battle it out on-stage at the Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California.
Many of those viewers also saw former presidential hopeful Rudy Giuliani officially end his run and endorse rival John McCain shortly before the debate began – immediately followed by an exclusive interview with CNN’s John Roberts.
The Republican presidential rivals crossed swords on stage when Romney accused McCain of deliberately distorting his position on Iraq, and falsely claimed that he endorsed specific timetables for Iraq withdrawal.
LONG BEACH, California (CNN) - After a harsh exchange between John McCain and Mitt Romney at CNN’s debate at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, Romney told CNN Thursday that McCain was using tactics “reminiscent of the Nixon era.”
In recent days McCain has accused Romney of supporting timetables for troop withdrawals from Iraq based on an interview from April 2007. Romney is, in fact, against troop withdrawals and he was referring rather to timetables and milestones for Iraq as a whole. McCain started leveling the charge just days before the Florida primary and senior Romney advisors believe it helped contribute to a loss in the state.
“I think [McCain] took a sharp detour off the Straight Talk Express by stooping to the attack he did,” Romney told CNN’s John King. “Had he a question about this he could have raised it any time between April and now, but to raise it outside of a debate and to do it in a way which blasted out to people in Florida was something reminiscent of the Nixon era and I don't think I want to see our party go back to that kind of campaigning.”
Lately, Romney has been trying to paint McCain as a liberal-leaning Republican, often talking about pieces of legislation McCain has worked on with Democrats.
Romney aides say they were buoyed after seeing in exit polls that Florida conservatives rallied around Romney. The former Massachusetts governor is now trying to create a distinct line in the GOP with himself on the right and McCain closer to the center. “I think there's going to be a real battle here for which way the Republican Party's going to head,” Romney told reporters Thursday.
LOS ANGELES, California (CNN) - Sens. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama will duel for Super Tuesday votes Thursday night as the Democratic presidential hopefuls face off for the first time together minus former Sen. John Edwards.
The debate - sponsored by CNN, the Los Angeles Times and Politico - starts at 8 p.m. ET Thursday on CNN and CNN.com. CNN's Wolf Blitzer is the moderator.
The event is the first Democratic debate since Obama's convincing victory Saturday in South Carolina. On Tuesday, Clinton won the Florida primary, a contest her campaign said helped the senator regain momentum even though it awarded no delegates.
(CNN) – Several Barack Obama campaign staffers who helped engineer the blowout victory in South Carolina have been re-located to the post-February 5 state of Virginia.
Obama's South Carolina ground organization was widely regarded as one of the strongest of any campaigns among the early voting states.
South Carolina State Director Stacey Brayboy, Communications Director Kevin Griffis, and political outreach coordinator Mike McCauley — all of whom have experience in Virginia politics — are now working out of Richmond preparing for the state's February 12 primary.
Brayboy, who was an adviser to Democratic Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine's successful campaign in 2005, will lead the effort to marshal voters in that state.
(CNN) - After much speculation, California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger endorsed John McCain’s White House bid Thursday.
Meanwhile, former President Bill Clinton continued his tour across the country campaigning for wife Hillary.
Watch the candidates on the trail in latest installment of American Votes 2008.
Related: Listen to CNN Senior Political Correspondent Candy Crowley and CNN's John Lisk run down the latest money haul for Barack Obama; the Democratic debate tonight; and Arnold Schwarzenegger's pick for president.
When Rudy Giuliani decides to look around for reasons why his presidential campaign went nowhere, he might not have to look any farther than the pillow next to his.
Here's the lead line in a New York Daily News article today called "How Judi killed off Rudy Giuliani": "She brought enough political baggage to fill a Louis Vuitton trunk." Ouch.
The piece goes on to say that Judith was a major reason for the collapse of the campaign. One expert suggests that Rudy wanted to head up the "family values' party," yet she didn't fit that label. Even worse was his estrangement from his kids.
Some of the low notes of Judith's role included the use of taxpayer-funded NYPD detectives as chauffeurs while she was still the mayor's girlfriend, revelations of a secret past marriage, and her interrupting Giuliani's speech to the National Rifle Association with a cutesy cell phone call to say "hi."
There was also that Barbara Walters interview where Giuliani said if elected, he'd let his wife sit in on cabinet meetings. He later retracted the comment about Judi's potential role. Maybe that had something to do with the fact that she was a graduate of a 2-year nursing program with no college degree.
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(CNN) - Bill Clinton engaged with a heckler head on Thursday at a Denver campaign stop.
The former president had just begun his speech when a man began to shout about 9/11 conspiracies.
As security attempted to escort him out, Clinton stopped his speech, saying, "What are you screaming about? Let him talk."
"Are you one of those it-was-an-inside-job guys? Let me tell you something…I let you be rude and interrupt me, scream at the top of your lungs. 9/11 was not an inside job; it was an Osama bin Laden job with 19 people from Saudi Arabia," Clinton continued. "They murdered 3000 Americans and others foreigners, including over 200 other Muslims. And we look like idiots, folks, denying that the people who murdered our fellow citizens did it when they are continuing to murder all around the world. So we heard from you: you go away."