(CNN) - Hours after Barack Obama captured the overall delegate lead from rival Hillary Clinton, the two Democratic contenders took aim at each other on the campaign trail.
Clinton’s campaign unveiled a television ad in Wisconsin that criticized Obama for his approaches to health care policy and the housing crisis, and his decision thus far to accept just two debate invitations between now and March 4, despite Clinton’s call for weekly faceoffs.
In Wisconsin – where voters head to the polls next Tuesday – Obama praised former opponent John Edwards, and returned fire.
At a Texas campaign event Wednesday, Clinton herself praised Edwards, and returned to a regular trail theme - that Obama wasn’t ready for the Oval Office.
“I am in the solutions business, my opponent is in the promises business,” said Clinton, who added that the primary season called for “comparing and contrasting.”
"I have solutions to these economic problems, but the question is: does Sen. Obama?" she said. “We need real results, not more rhetoric. We need to get back in the solutions business."
The Clinton campaign has said strong showings in Texas and Ohio, which vote March 4, are “critical” for her.
(CNN) - John McCain took extended aim at Barack Obama during a Capitol Hill press conference Wednesday, hitting nearly the exact same themes Hillary Clinton did in a speech only about an hour earlier.
"I respect him and the campaign he has run," McCain said. "But there is going to be time when we have to get into specifics, and I have heard not every speech he has given obviously, but they are singularly lacking in specifics, and that's when as the campaign moves forward, we will be portraying very stark differences."
Those comments are among McCain's most pointed attack at Obama to date, a clear sign the Republican nominee apparent is increasingly viewing the Illinois senator as the Democratic frontrunner. The comments also closely echo criticisms Clinton launched earlier Wednesday morning when she said in part, "We need real results, not more rhetoric."
McCain also took aim at Obama for recently being named the most liberal senator in 2007 by a recent nonpartisan survey.
"It's not an accident that he has, according to the National Journal, the most liberal voting record in the United States Senate," McCain said. "I have on one of most conservative."
UPDATE: Campaigning in Wisconsin Wednesday, Obama sharpened his attacks against McCain, saying, "I look forward to a debate with John McCain, who has been the biggest champion of bush policies. If you want more of the same, I think he's a good choice. But if you want something different, vote for me."
WASHINGTON (CNN) - The GOP establishment continued to coalesce behind John McCain Wednesday, as the highest-ranking Republican leaders in the House all backed his White House bid.
House Minority Leader John Boehner of Ohio, Minority Whip Roy Blunt of Missouri and GOP House Conference Chairman Adam Putnam of Florida all backed the Arizona senator at a press conference at the Capitol Hill Club.
In a statement issued after the event, Blunt praised Huckabee – but said McCain offered Republicans their best hope of taking back the House in 2008.
Since Mitt Romney suspended his presidential campaign, many conservative leaders, including GOP congressional leadership, have rallied to McCain’s side, including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky – a longtime foe of McCain on campaign finance legislation.
Boehner had said he was planning to remain neutral. His counterpart on the Democratic side, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, has made a similar pledge.
- CNN’s Tasha Diakides
(CNN) - CNN has confirmed that David Wilhelm, Bill Clinton’s 1992 campaign manager, will endorse Barack Obama’s presidential bid Wednesday afternoon.
Wilhelm, a former chair of the Democratic National Committee, is a superdelegate to the party’s convention this summer. He had not previously announced his support for either of the two remaining White House hopefuls this cycle.
Obama has captured a narrow lead in the overall delegate count, but still significantly trails Hillary Clinton in the race to capture superdelegates, party leaders and elected officials who can choose to support any candidate they wish regardless of their state’s primary season vote.
It is possible the support of superdelegates may prove decisive this cycle.
Obama campaign manager David Axelrod called the nod “very important,” saying the seasoned campaign strategist “knows Ohio backwards and forwards, so it’s a hugely valuable endorsement for us. He’s going to be a big part of our team.”
He added that Wilhelm represents a move of former Bill Clinton supporters into Obama’s camp.
The campaign tells CNN Wilhelm’s endorsement will come during a 1 p.m. conference call.
- CNN's Candy Crowley and Chris Welch contributed to this report
(CNN) - As the all-important delegate chase continues, the campaigns of presidential frontrunners Barack Obama and John McCain argued Wednesday that it was now just about mathematically impossible, or already so, for rivals Hillary Clinton and Mike Huckabee to capture their parties’ presidential nominations.
On a Wednesday morning conference call with reporters, Obama’s campaign manager, David Plouffe, said that the Illinois senator’s own sweep of Tuesday’s Potomac primaries had made it “next to impossible” for Clinton to capture the Democratic nomination.
The most recent CNN count of Democratic delegates puts Obama ahead of the New York senator, 1,215 to 1,190, a gap of just 25 delegates. That includes both pledged delegates who are distributed proportionately according to election results in their state, and unpledged superdelegates who have made their presidential preference known. Superdelegates are free to cast their vote without regard for the primary or caucus results in their home states.
This cycle, the party’s nominee will need to capture 2,025 delegates. The campaigns of both Clinton and Obama have said that, whatever the upcoming results, both are planning to stay in the race through the national convention, when delegates cast their votes.
But the upcoming primary calendar, said Plouffe, offers Clinton little chance to recover the lead. “The only way she could do it is by winning every contest by 25 to 30 points. You amass delegates by winning by big margins,” he said.
He said that scenario was unlikely, since Obama had won 14 states and the District of Columbia by more than 20 points, while Clinton had won just two states by similar margins. And polling in the upcoming, delegate-rich contests of Ohio and Texas – which the Clinton campaign has said are “critical” – show a far narrower race in both states.
ANAHEIM, California (CNN) - Say what you will about the ever-building excitement of the presidential campaign season so far, but there's one thing that is hard to deny:
The candidates' slogans have been boring.
Thus, on the freeway here, when I saw a certain slogan on the back of a small green-and-white truck in the next lane, I was filled with delight. It was easily the most memorable slogan I have seen anywhere this year - and the fact that it had nothing to do with any of the people running for president didn't change its impact one bit.
In fact, the candidates, and their advisers, could learn a lot about marketing from Mike Diamond, the man who owned the truck.
He advertised himself - these are the exact words - as:
“The Smell Good Plumber.”
It was such a fine slogan that I knew I'd have to look into it later (flagging down the truck, although I wanted to, seemed a little excessive). The slogan refers not to the work that the plumbers from his company do - it doesn't refer to the homeowners' bathrooms and basements once Mike Diamond's men get through with them. It refers to the plumbers themselves. We'll get to that in a bit.
But first, to the presidential candidates. Campaigns, throughout American history, have used some crisply crafted slogans. There was “A Chicken in Every Pot and a Car in Every Garage” (Herbert Hoover). “Tippecanoe and Tyler Too” (William Henry Harrison). “He Kept Us Out of War” (Woodrow Wilson). “A Full Dinner Pail” (William McKinley). “In Your Heart You Know He's Right” (Barry Goldwater). The citizens of those eras might not have agreed with an individual candidate or his slogan - but they remembered that slogan.
(CNN) – John McCain and Barack Obama swept the “Potomac primaries” – Tuesday’s contests in Virginia, Maryland, and Washington, D.C. – as the march to the Republican and Democratic nominating conventions continues.
In the latest episode of CNN=Politics Daily, Senior Political Analyst Bill Schneider takes a look at exit polling data from Tuesday’s votes.
Even before Obama’s sweep of the region’s primaries, Hillary Clinton had already taken steps to shake up her campaign. John Roberts speaks with former Clinton aide Lisa Caputo about the next phase of the former first lady’s campaign. And GOP long shot Mike Huckabee explains why he’s staying the race.
Finally, Chief National Correspondent John King breaks down the voting patterns in Tuesday’s contests, and takes a look at whether Huckabee can still win enough delegates in the remaining primaries to capture the Republican nomination.
Click here to subscribe to CNN=Politics Daily.
–CNN Associate Producer Martina Stewart
CNN’s Candy Crowley reports that sources inside and outside the Obama campaign confirm that Puerto Rico’s Democratic governor, Anibal Acevedo Vila, will endorse Barack Obama for president - possibly as soon as today.
The island has 63 delegates to this year’s convention - a total far higher than many states that have already weighed in.
LITTLE ROCK, Arkansas (CNN) - Mike Huckabee vowed to stay in the race despite losing three more primaries Tuesday night, pledging to give voters in the coming primaries "a solid, conservative, absolute pro-life candidate" as an alternative to frontrunner John McCain.
"The nomination is not secured until somebody has 1,191 delegates," Huckabee said. "That has not yet happened. We're still continuing to work and to give voters in these states a choice."
McCain easily won primaries in Maryland and the District of Columbia, but Huckabee gave him a run for his money in Virginia. The former Arkansas governor and Baptist minister said the results showed that "there's still a real sense in the Republican party of a desire to have a choice."