(CNN) - CNN has learned the negotiations that led to Mitt Romney's endorsement of John McCain included a prominent role by John Weaver, who was the Arizona senator's top political strategist until he left in a campaign shakeup last summer.
According to several sources familiar with the talks, Weaver got involved with the blessing - indeed at the urging - of two current top McCain advisers: Charlie Black and Steve Schmidt.
Both were aware of Weaver's friendship and past working relationship Romney campaign manager Beth Myers. Weaver and Myers worked together on a Texas campaign and at the Texas State Republican Party back in the 1980s and have remained good friends.
According to sources in both the Romney and McCain camps, Weaver made contact with Myers last week to initiate talks aimed at winning Romney's endorsement and an appeal from him to his delegates to rally to McCain's candidacy.
A source involved in the internal Romney deliberations confirmed Weaver's role, and said the governor came to the conclusion his endorsement was important now to send a signal he believes it is time for the party to unite behind McCain and focus on a difficult fall election environment.
Programming note: Watch Larry King’s exclusive interview with GOP front-runner John McCain tonight on Larry King Live at 9 P.M. Eastern.
–CNN Chief National Correspondent John King
(CNN) - House Republicans staged a walkout Thursday afternoon to protest the Democratic leadership's decision to vote on a contempt motion citing White House Chief Of Staff Josh Bolten and former White House counsel Harriet Miers.
The two have refused to comply with subpoenas in an investigation into the firings of U.S. attorneys in 2006. The Republicans think the House should be focused on passing an extension of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.
Rep. Adam Putnam, R-Florida, said Democrats are "more interested in a political witch hunt" than protecting the country.
The surveillance bill expires over the weekend. Republicans and Democrats in the House are hung up over a provision in the legislation that would grant telecommunication companies retroactive immunity for the help they provided to the Bush administration in investigating terrorism after the September 11 attacks.
–CNN's Brianna Keilar contributed to this report
Mitt Romney plans to endorse John McCain Thursday. (Photo Credit: AP)
(CNN) - Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney is expected to endorse U.S. Sen. John McCain of Arizona, who was Romney's rival in the Republican race for the White House, two sources familiar with the decision told CNN Thursday.
They said Romney wants the 286 delegates he won to go to McCain, who now has 827 delegates, and is the Republican front-runner.
To clinch the Republican nomination 1,191 are needed.
An announcement is expected at 3:30 p.m. ET in Boston.
Romney dropped out of the race Feb. 7, after a poor showing on Super Tuesday. He said he pulled the plug on his Republican presidential campaign "for our party and for our country."
Continuing his campaign would have delayed the Republicans from shifting attention to the general election campaign against whichever Democrat wins the nomination of their party, he said at the time.
– CNN's Dana Bash contributed to this report
YORBA LINDA, California (CNN) - We were staying in a hotel the next town over, and all through the night I heard train whistles.
In the morning I flipped through the local-attractions guide on top of the desk. One item caught my eye, and suddenly the nearby train whistles became more than a pre-dawn irritation.
I remembered Richard Nixon's famous words about his sleeplessness:
“As a young boy in Yorba Linda, I never thought of becoming President of the United States or even entering politics. My goal was to become a railroad engineer. Sometimes at night I was awakened by the sound of a train whistle and I would dream of the faraway places I wanted to visit someday.”
The hotel-room guidebook said that the Richard Nixon Library, Museum and Birthplace was just a few miles away. That afternoon I stepped away from thoughts of Campaign 2008 and caught a cab over there.
There were few visitors. I heard my own footsteps and then I heard Nixon's voice. It seemed like an illusion, but I turned a corner and found its source.
“I bet the ten dollars - the maximum...” Nixon said.
There was a little theater and no one was in it and he was up on a video screen. I sat down, an audience of one.
LORDSTOWN, Ohio (CNN) – Hillary Clinton chose a General Motors plant 20 miles from the Ohio-Pennsylvania border as the place to deliver a detailed assault on Barack Obama’s economic credentials, arguing that her opponent “doesn’t have much experience creating jobs at all.”
Clinton’s remarks were aimed squarely at blue collar voters in the Ohio Valley concerned about the rocky American manufacturing sector.
Saying she was “proud to be labor’s candidate,” she touted endorsements from more than a dozen national unions and six million working men and women nationwide, including, she said, union members at an Illinois Maytag plant routinely cited by Obama in his in stump speech.
“The union at that plant supports me,” Clinton said, “because when 1,600 jobs were being lost, they say he didn’t do a thing to help.”
Clinton stepped up her efforts to marginalize of Obama as offering little substance to complement his inspirational rhetoric.
“Speeches don’t put food on the table,” she said. “Speeches don’t fill up your tank, or fill your prescription, or do anything about that stack of bills that keeps you up at night.”
The New York Senator and former First Lady told the audience of GM employees and UAW members that she understands the pinch of the middle class.
“You fill up your tank, and that’s two twenties from your wallet,” she said. “You pick up a gallon of milk and a few other things – and there goes another.”
With 3,800 employees, Lordstown’s GM plant—the site of Clinton’s economic speech– is the highest volume single line vehicle assembly plant in the world.
Clinton was introduced by Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland.
Related video: Clinton: 'I offer solutions'
–CNN Political Producer Peter Hamby
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Republican presidential candidate John McCain, who almost always refuses to speak on the campaign trail about his son serving in the military, got a rousing reception Wednesday when he told a private gathering of House Republican congressman that his son Jimmy - whose Marine unit had been deployed to Iraq - had arrived home safely.
According to three GOP sources present at the closed meeting of the House Republican Conference, the Arizona senator said that when his son first arrived in the country, he reported seeing IEDs everywhere - but when he recently left, some seven months later, Iraq had become so safe he was handing out soccer balls.
According to the sources present, the congressmen greeted the news with standing ovations.
(CNN) – Lincoln Chafee, a former Republican senator from Rhode Island, announced his endorsement of Sen. Barack Obama Thursday.
Chafee, who became an Independent after losing his U.S. Senate seat to Democrat Sheldon Whitehouse in 2006, told reporters he intends to vote for Obama in Rhode Island’s Democratic primary on March 4.
"I believe Senator Obama is the best candidate to restore American credibility, to restore our confidence to be moral and just, and to bring people together to solve the complex issues such as the economy, the environment and global stability," Chafee said.
Chafee served in the U.S. Senate as a Republican beginning in 1999 after being appointed to the seat previously held by his father John Chafee, who represented Rhode Island in the Senate from 1977-1999. Lincoln Chafee was elected to his father’s Senate seat in 2000 but lost a re-election bid in 2006. In 2007 Lincoln Chafee became an Independent. Chafee is currently a Visiting Fellow at Brown University's Watson Institute for International Studies.
While serving in the Senate, he was known for his liberal views and for his opposition to the war in Iraq – a position he shares with Sen. Obama.
–CNN Associate Producer Martina Stewart
(CNN) - Some Democrats say they fear their party's method of picking a nominee might turn undemocratic as neither presidential candidate is likely to gather the delegates needed for the nomination.
Sens. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama are running neck and neck toward the party's August convention in Denver, Colorado. Most projections show neither getting the necessary 2,025 delegates in the remaining nominating contests before then.
Party rules call for the votes of superdelegates - 800 or so party officers, elected officials and activists - to tip the balance. The party instituted the system to avoid the turmoil that a deadlocked race would create at a convention.
But even some superdelegates are questioning the system, as the party heads toward the conclusion of a race in which they might determine the outcome.
Compiled by Jonathan Helman
CNN Washington Bureau
Washington Times: McCain Refuses To Pander
John McCain's campaign manager yesterday said the candidate will not pander for conservative support, even as his surrogates have made a second overture to see why chief competitor Mike Huckabee has not dropped out of the Republican presidential race.
Dallas Morning News: Clinton Campaign Says Texas Is One Big Reason The Race Isn't Over
Hillary Rodham Clinton sharpened the contrast she's drawing with Barack Obama as she campaigned Wednesday in South Texas, while Mr. Obama's campaign manager said she was too far behind for it to matter.
Washington Post: Obama's Economic Plan Is A Pitch to the Working Class
Sen. Barack Obama offered a detailed prescription for the ailing U.S. economy Wednesday, answering skeptics who contend he has not matched his inspirational talk with a mastery of policy and targeting voters in crucial primaries in Wisconsin, Ohio and Texas.
WSJ: Democrats' Complex Delegate Rules Cloud Issue of Who Leads
The Democratic party's delegate-allocation process is contributing to confusion over a basic aspect of the race: identifying a front-runner.
Compiled by Rebecca Sinderbrand, CNN Washington Bureau
* Hillary Clinton tours a factory in Warren, Ohio and attends an economic town hall there. Later, she attends a roundtable discussion in Dayton, Ohio, followed by a campaign rally in Columbus, Ohio.
* Mike Huckabee is in Wisconsin, where he attends rallies and hosts media availabilities in Madison, La Crosse, Rothschild and Green Bay.
* John McCain holds a media availability in Burlington, Vermont, and a rally and media availability in Warwick, Rhode Island.