LOS ANGELES (CNN) - Maria Shriver endorsed Democrat Barack Obama’s White House bid today at a Los Angeles rally.
"Follow your own truth and your own voice," she told the crowd. With California's primary just 48 hours away, "We're at the epicenter of change. We can lead. We can lead this country," she said.
The California First Lady made a surprise appearance on-stage at the Sunday campaign event, backed by the candidate’s wife Michelle Obama, talk show host Oprah Winfrey and Shriver’s cousin Caroline Kennedy
Shriver is married to California’s Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who endorsed GOP presidential hopeful John McCain on Friday.
The former NBC journalist had said in the past she was drawn to Obama’s message. Shriver is the niece of Sen. Ted Kennedy, and has been close to Oprah Winfrey since both got their starts in local TV in Baltimore. Both Winfrey and the Massachusetts senator have actively campaigned for Obama.
Most of the crowd was made up of supporters of the Illinois senator's presidential bid. But there were a few undecided voters still trying to decide between Obama and New York Sen. Hillary Clinton, like El Segundo resident Leslie Clark, who came to the rally with a friend.
The Shriver endorsement didn’t impress Clark: "I don't go by what famous people say - I don't care about all that, living in L.A. They have money and political pull and might even be friends with him. What matters is what I learn about Obama while I'm here." Still, she left the rally leaning towards Obama.
California’s vote is this Tuesday, February 5. Most recent polls show Obama and Clinton locked in a tight race in the Democratic primary in this delegate-rich state.
–CNN’s Candy Crowley, Laura Bernardini and Jessica Yellin contributed to this report
(updated 8:15 p.m. ET with Shriver comments, crowd reaction.)
(CNN) - The Maine Republican caucuses began on Friday and continued through today (Sunday).
With 428 of 626 towns reporting (68 percent of towns, not 68 percent of voters):
Mitt Romney - 2,362 votes, 52 percent
John McCain - 958 votes, 21.1 percent
Ron Paul - 851 votes, 18.7 percent
Mike Huckabee - 268 votes, 5.9 percent
Undecided - 94 votes, 2.1 percent
Fred Thompson - 4 votes, 0.1 percent
Rudy Giuliani - 2 votes, 0 percent
Maine will send 18 delegates to the Republican National Convention. CNN projects that all 18 delegates will go to Mitt Romney.
CHICAGO, Illinois (CNN) – Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney won’t be glued to a TV like most Americans when his undefeated New England Patriots take on the New York Giants in Sunday night’s Super Bowl.
Such is life on the campaign trail with just two days to go until Super Tuesday, and a strict travel schedule trumps watching your hometown team on their quest for a perfect season.
“We’re going to be seeing it in St. Louis, and then seeing it again when we land [in Nashville tonight],” Romney told disappointed traveling reporters on the plane before taking off from Chicago to St. Louis. “We’ll miss the middle.”
Romney revealed that he traded emails with Patriots’ star quarterback Tom Brady on Saturday to wish him luck. Holding up his BlackBerry, he joked, “I actually sent him a couple of plays, I’ll show you what I got,” before adding, “I wish he’d send me a couple plays.”
Keeping the football theme going while talking about the race, Romney said “I don’t think anybody has a perfect season so far, I wish it were that kind of a race but I’m afraid it’s much closer.”
He compared the media’s political coverage to a game’s halftime analysis: “They’re going back and forth and they act like they’ve got it all clear, and then you go on to the second half and it’s not at all like they said.”
As it turns out, rival John McCain will be watching the game on Romney’s turf in Boston. New York Sen. Hillary Clinton will be watching her Giants in St. Paul, Minnesota.
Asked if he would call Clinton if New York prevails, Romney told CNN, “I don’t think so. I thought Rudy [Giuliani] and I would have a bet on this, but we never got around to it.”
– CNN Political Producer Alexander Marquardt
(CNN) - A Romney campaign aide confirms to CNN that former Sen. Rick Santorum, who endorsed Mitt Romney last week, has recorded an automated phone call being used in several Super Tuesday states that directly questions whether rival John McCain has the temperament to be president.
“As a conservative, I don’t agree with McCain on many issues and I don’t think he has the temperament and leadership ability to move the country in the right direction,’ Santorum says in the call, according to the Romney source.
Santorum notes that as a senator, he worked hard to stop Democrats and pass a conservative agenda, and “a few senators like John McCain stood in our way.”
In the Senate, Santorum clashed with McCain on several issues that make conservatives skeptical of the Arizona senator – especially his bill to reform campaign finance laws.
Despite that, McCain went to Pennsylvania to campaign for Santorum in his ill-fated 2006 Senate re-election bid – something McCain aides are now quick to point out.
“It raises the question about why Santorum was so anxious to have McCain campaign for him, which McCain did, multiple times,” McCain advisor Steve Schmidt tells CNN.
But as McCain began to rise in the polls and win presidential primaries over the past month, Santorum began aggressively calling conservative radio and engaging with GOP bloggers, calling McCain too liberal to be the Republican nominee.
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(CNN) - Mitt Romney predicted Sunday his party's conservative base will rally behind him on Super Tuesday in order to prevent John McCain from winning the Republican nomination.
"What I have to do is continue to see what's been happening the last few days, specifically that is conservatives across the country are saying, 'whoa, we have to get behind Mitt Romney,'" he said on CNN's Late Edition.
– CNN Producer Alexander Mooney
(CNN) - On the final weekend before Super Tuesday, Sen. Barack Obama's presidential campaign quickly responded to a New York Times article Sunday scrutinizing the senator's actions on a nuclear leak bill. The story, published on the front page, said "a close look at the path his legislation took tells a different story" from what Obama has said.
Obama's campaign posted on its Web site a lengthy "fact check" about the article defending the senator's work on the bill.
Two years ago, after Illinois residents learned that Exelon Corporation did not disclose leaks at one of its plants, Obama introduced the Nuclear Release Notice Act of 2006, which would require plant owners to report all leaks to state and local authorities, the article reported.
Obama has touted the bill - which never passed the Senate - on the campaign trail, and in December he told voters in Iowa it was "the only nuclear legislation that I've passed," the newspaper reported.
Although it passed the environmental committee, the bill never made to the full Senate, and the senator reintroduced it last fall, according to the report.
Clinton laughs with Pastor Noel Jones, left, and Ambassador Sidney Williams at the City of Refuge Church in Gardena, California Sunday. (Photo Credit: AP)
LOS ANGELES, California (CNN) - Bill Clinton embarked on a pre-Super Tuesday tour of African American churches in Southern California Sunday, in what some involved in the organizing claim is intended to let the former president speak directly to African American voters after the controversy that erupted over his remarks in South Carolina.
“This is a wonderful, wonderful election for America. We ought to be able to have a few disagreements without discord,” he told an audience of African American parishioners during his first stop at the City of Refuge Church in Los Angeles. The Clinton campaign says the tour is part of a larger effort to reach out to all California communities.
At his first stop, the former president never directly addressed his remarks in South Carolina, but he appealed to the audience for understanding.
“I’m not against anybody. I’ve never been more proud to be part the Democratic Party in my life,” he said. “I get why this is a hard election. I waited my whole life to vote for an African American for president. I waited my whole life to vote for a woman for president. And sometimes I look up at sky and say God you’re playing with my mind again.”
Clinton was introduced by California Rep. Maxine Waters, an influential member of the Congressional Black Caucus, who directly addressed the tension between supporters of the two candidates: “Let us not turn on each other. Let us not look at each other cross eyed. Let us not start hating each other,” she said.
(CNN) - A new poll out Sunday suggests Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama are locked in a dead heat for the biggest prize on Super Tuesday: delegate-rich California.
According to a just released poll from the Field Research Corporation, Clinton only holds a statistically insignificant 2 point lead over Obama in California, 36 percent to 34 percent. Meanwhile the poll shows 18 percent of California Democrats have yet to make up their minds.
The poll suggests the race has significantly narrowed in the state in only a matter weeks– most polls two weeks ago showed Clinton with a double-digit lead there. A CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll taken a week ago showed Clinton with a 17 point lead in California. John Edwards, then still a presidential candidate, registered 11 percent.
If the eventual outcome of the race is as close as the poll suggests, both candidates stand to rack up significant numbers of delegates in the state: On the Democratic side, California awards its 370 delegates proportionately.
The poll shows the race on the Republican side isn't as close - John McCain holds a 32-24 percent lead over Romney with Mike Huckabee at 13 percent. Ron Paul pulls 10 percent of support among likely Republican voters.
California is worth 170 delegates for the Republicans and unlike the Democrats, the winner of the state's primary will be awarded them all.
The poll, conducted January 25-Febuary 1, surveyed 481 likely Republican primary voters and 511 likely Democratic voters and carries a margin of error of plus or minus 4.5 percentage points.
(CNN) - While the nation was gearing up for Super Bowl Sunday, the remaining contenders for the presidency kicked off their final maneuvers for Super Tuesday, fine-tuning their closing messages in appearances on the Sunday talk shows and fanning out across the nation for an exhaustive list of last-minute campaign stops.
Sen. John McCain expressed some hope of clinching his party's nomination Tuesday - and, minutes later, found himself speaking on live national television with Sen. Hillary Clinton, who has vowed she is the Democrat best prepared to beat him in a general election.
Smiling and exchanging pleasantries briefly on "Fox News Sunday," the two - apparently unaware they'd be put on the air together live between their separate interviews from different cities - vowed that if selected for their parties' nominations they would have a "respectful" debate focusing on serious "differences."
Of course, neither knows who will ultimately enter the general election. Clinton is locked in a neck-and-neck race with Sen. Barack Obama. McCain has a clear lead in polls heading toward Tuesday, but is facing stepped-up attacks by former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.
Asked whether he may win the nomination Tuesday, McCain responded, "I hope so. But you know, you don't know for sure. I think we got a lot of good momentum and a lot of endorsements, and crowds who are enthusiastic, and we're working hard, and I'm guardedly optimistic."
(CNN) – Mitt Romney's presidential campaign complained Saturday of telephone calls to some North Dakota residents that falsely claim to be paid for by the Romney campaign.
In a letter to North Dakota's attorney general seeking an investigation, lawyers for the Massachusetts Republican say they have heard reports of calls that are either automated or live and falsely direct North Dakotans to volunteer for Romney. Some also begin mid sentence and/or end with the caller laughing.
"Clearly our campaign is not responsible for such prank telephone calls," the letter stated.
The letter also said the campaign has connected some of the calls to an organization that is supporting John McCain. A McCain spokesman denied the campaign is connected to the calls, calling the notion "absurd."
– CNN's Peter Hamby contributed to this report