WASHINGTON (CNN) - During an election year notable for the diversity of the Presidential candidates that include Sen. Hillary Clinton, Sen. Barack Obama, whose father is from Kenya, and former candidate Arizona Gov. Bill Richardson, whose mother is Hispanic, President Bush today both touted progress on race relations in the United States and reminded Americans the country still has a long way to go.
Amid the festivities at the annual White House event celebrating African-American history month, President Bush condemned what he called a symbol of suffering, the noose.
"The noose is not a symbol of prairie justice, but of gross injustice," President Bush stated. "Displaying one is not a harmless prank."
Explaining its history, the President said the noose played a central part in a campaign of violence and fear against African-Americans. In stark terms, Bush described how African-Americans were terrorized for decades saying, "Fathers were dragged from their homes in the dark of night before the eyes of their terrified children. Summary executions were held by torchlight in front of hateful crowds."
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Business was brisk at polling places in Virginia and Maryland Tuesday where primaries could answer key questions in the Democratic and Republican nomination races.
The District of Columbia voters are also participating in the so-called "Potomac primaries" - named for the river that separates Virginia and Maryland and flows past the nation's capital, Washington.
At stake in the primaries are 238 Democratic delegates and 119 total GOP delegates. Polls in Maryland and the District of Columbia close at 8 p.m. and in Virginia at 7 p.m.
In Maryland, turnout was anticipated to be about 40 percent, which is above normal according to Ross Goldstein, deputy administrator for the state's Board of Elections.
Hillary Clinton is promising that in her White House there wouldn't be any new scandals involving her husband, former President Bill Clinton.
She was asked in an interview how people can be certain that a new personal or business scandal won't erupt that Republicans could use to blow her agenda and her administration out of the water.
Clinton replied: "You know, I just can assure this reader that that is not going to happen. You know, none of us can predict the future, no matter who we are and what we're running for, but I'm very confident that that will not happen."
History suggests otherwise. Bill Clinton's eight years in the White House were plagued by scandals – from Whitewater to Gennifer Flowers, to Monica Lewinsky to his impeachment.
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(CNN) –With an eye toward upcoming primary contests on March 4–including delegate-rich Texas– Sen. Barack Obama is appealing to lower-income Hispanic voters in a new Spanish-language radio ad released in the state Tuesday.
"Barack Obama is talking to me," says the announcer in Spanish. "He's faced many of the same challenges that we've faced in my family."
The sixty-second ad highlights Obama's "hard work" that helped him rise from humble beginnings and eventually attend Harvard Law School.
"And instead of accepting job offers that paid a lot of money, Obama decided to work with churches, giving a helping hand to those less fortunate in his community," the ad says.
Meanwhile, Sen. Hillary Clinton flew to El Paso for a campaign stop Tuesday as voters were still casting ballots in the Potomac primary.
In Texas, Clinton is counting on strong support from Hispanic voters, a group that has reliably turned out for her in the past. But after campaign manager Patti Solis Doyle - a Mexican-American - was ousted as campaign manager this weekend, some Hispanics are voicing objections.
"Hillary Clinton's campaign is in trouble and the highest-ranking Hispanic in her camp is paying the price," wrote the editorial staff of El Diario, a daily Spanish newspaper based in New York. "Clinton has worked hard for the Hispanic votes she has gained so far in this tight race, and it would be a mistake to risk alienating that base."
UPDATE: The Clinton campaign is releasing a radio advertisement aimed towards Hispanic voters in Texas that proclaims "Hillary is our friend,” and promotes the candidate's plan for universal health care.
"She respects our culture and understands the problems that affect our community," an announcer says in the thirty-second ad, which has been used to target Hispanics in previous primary contests. "Let's vote for Hillary…and we will have a better life."
- CNN Associate Producer Rachel Streitfeld
DULLES TOLL ROAD, Virginia (CNN) – Thirteen miles from Dulles International Airport, the Huckabee press van carrying reporters from Washington D.C. to the airport for a flight to Little Rock, Arkansas ground to a halt on the side of the highway, out of gas.
The driver turned the key over and over, desperately hoping that the gas needle firmly set on ‘E’ was wrong. The staffer in charge of wrangling the press called ahead to let the campaign know what had happened, as the press in the back of the van pondered whether there were any metaphorical implications.
Huckabee’s bodyman Drake Jarman appeared at the window - he'd seen us in distress, and pulled over in another van carrying more reporters coming from elsewhere in Washington. After dubbing himself a “knight in shining armor,” reporters quickly squeezed into the rescue van and were whisked to the airport.
As we sit on the plane, the traveling press is assured our bags had been salvaged from the side of the road and loaded on. We’ll find out in a few hours.
–CNN Political Producer Alexander Marquardt
(CNN) - Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign is launching its first television ad in Wisconsin Tuesday, a state that may prove crucial to the New York senator should she get swept in Tuesday's Potomac Primary.
The 30-second spot, called "Obligation," highlights Clinton's healthcare plan, with the announcer saying Clinton is "the only candidate for president with a plan to provide health care for every American."
The ad does not mention rival Barack Obama by name, though Clinton often criticizes the Illinois senator for not adopting a healthcare plan that mandates coverage for all Americans.
Following primaries in Maryland, the District of Columbia, and Virginia Tuesday, the next battlefront will be Wisconsin, set to vote February 19. The state has a large working-class population – a voting bloc that has leaned toward Clinton in previous contests. It also has a large student population and a sizeable number of Independents - groups that have favored Obama in earlier primaries.
But in a sign the New York Democrat is already looking ahead to the March 4 Ohio and Texas primaries. She's headed to El Paso, Texas Tuesday night and plans to spend all day Wednesday stumping in the delegate-rich state.
Obama, meanwhile, is heading to Madison, Wisconsin Tuesday night. His campaign began airing a television ad there that touts his own healthcare plan earlier this week.
- CNN Ticker Producer Alexander Mooney
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Hillary Clinton, responding to a question about whether there might be a “new business or personal scandal” involving her husband Bill Clinton, said Monday night that voters should not be worried about the possibility.
"You know, I can assure this reader that that is not going to happen," she said, in response to a question from a Santa Monica reader of the Web site Politico.com. "You know, none of us can predict the future, no matter who we are and what we are running for, but I am very confident that that will not happen."
The New York senator also told interviewers from the Politico and Washington, D.C. ABC affiliate WJLA that Democratic rival Barack Obama’s rhetoric signaled an unwillingness to fight as hard as he would need to do as chief executive.
“You never hear the specifics. It’s all this kind of abstract, general talk about how we all need to get along,” said Clinton. “I want to get along, and I have gotten along, in the Senate. I will work with Republicans to find common cause whenever I can. But I will also stand my ground because there are fights worth having.”
Speaking to the same set of interviewers, Obama tried to turn the focus to transparency, and the Clintons’ unwillingness to date to release their financial records in full.
“All I can tell you is, I’ve released my income tax return because I think it is appropriate, if you’re running for the highest office in the land, for people to have a sense of how you make your money,” said the Illinois senator, saying that it was up to his opponent and her husband, the former president “ to determine whether or not they want to follow my lead on that.
“… It’s not a question of what I want to know. I think it’s what the American people deserve to know - which is just how, in fact, are people’s finances handled.”
ABOARD THE CNN ELECTION EXPRESS IN NEWPORT BEACH, California (CNN) - It's the one thing no candidate would ever admit that he or she might miss.
To say it out loud would be to confess something embarrassing. Something needful.
A candidate dropping out of the presidential race is usually quite comfortable saying that he or she will miss all the friends made during the long campaign; will miss the chance to advance a vision for a better America; will miss the opportunity to serve.
But no candidate will ever say that he will miss the cheers. The applause.
Yet you know that every candidate does - that every candidate, in the days after walking away, yearns to hear that applause one more time.
There weren't many places to eat within walking distance of where I was staying here, so I decided to go right next door to one of the oddest restaurants - or at least one of the oddest restaurant concepts - I have ever encountered.
It was called Garlic Jo's. That was its specialty. Not the Jo part. The garlic part.
You of course are familiar with restaurants that concentrate on Italian food, or Mexican food, or Thai food. There are restaurants that specialize in desserts; there are restaurants that specialize in appetizers.
Very early in the evening I was the only person in the dining room. I would tell you what the predominant scent inside Garlic Jo's was, but I believe you already know.
I perused the menu. Should I try the garlic pizza? The garlic seafood salad? The mozzarella and garlic pasta? Garlic-smothered steak? How about the spinach and garlic salad? The garlic fried rice?
(CNN) - The NAACP told reporters Monday that an anti-Hillary Clinton e-mail allegedly written by the group’s chairman, Julian Bond, was a hoax.
The message, titled “10 Reasons Not to Vote for Hilary Clinton,” is one of several anti-Clinton emails aimed at black voters that have circulated over the past few weeks.
“I did not write the ‘10 reasons’ and have not and will not support or oppose any candidate or party for president,” said Bond in a statement.
Late last month, another anti-Clinton e-mail cited a March 2007 column by Robert Novak on her 1960s-era experiences, and used it as the basis for false claims about her sympathies during the Civil Rights era. The article does not make those claims.
The content of that e-mail was briefly posted to a user-generated blog operated on the Obama campaign’s Web site. When the campaign was notified, they immediately removed the material.
NAACP spokesman Robert McIntire said the group had been receiving calls since the e-mail about Clinton's views in the 1960s began circulating from individuals and reporters asking about the information in the message.
He said they answered questions about that era honestly, but would not be putting out a statement clarifying the organization’s view of Clinton's experiences because that might be viewed as an endorsement of a political candidate, and they are committed to maintaining their politically neutral status.
“The NAACP is studiously non-partisan and does not engage in partisan politics,” said Bond in his statement, calling the e-mail “a political dirty trick and a fraud, calculated to confuse.”
–CNN Associate Political Editor Rebecca Sinderbrand
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine has hitched his wagon to Barack Obama's star, and if Obama pulls out a win today in the Virginia primary it could pay dividends for Kaine's political future.
Kaine was one of the first politicians outside of Illinois to endorse Obama last year and his name has been floated repeatedly as a potential running mate for Obama were he to win the Democratic nomination.
On Monday, Obama was asked by a Virginia radio host if Kaine would be on his "short list" (he didn't say for what).
"He will certainly be somebody who is on my short list to have a role in my administration," Obama said.
Kaine, elected governor in 2005, is considered an up-and-comer by some national Democrats because of his success in the traditionally red state and his willingness to speak openly about his faith (he is a Catholic). After his election, Kaine was invited by the national party to give the Democratic rebuttal to President Bush's State of the Union address in 2006.
Obama told WRVA radio that Kaine "is as fine a public servant as we have in this country."
The 50-year old governor gave Obama a rousing introduction at last weekend's Jefferson-Jackson dinner in Richmond, an annual fundraiser for Virginia Democrats where the Illinois senator was warmly received.
Kaine was asked several times by reporters on Saturday about being on the ticket with Obama, and he seemed to welcome the attention.
"People get mentioned in lists, but I'm one of the Obama co-chairs nationally and I'll be advising him," Kaine said. "I've got some different ideas for him. I think I can be very helpful to Sen. Obama."
- CNN Political Producer Peter Hamby