These days politics is all about voting blocs – you know African-Americans, Latinos, women. But there’s one group that might not be getting as much attention as it deserves: white men.
These guys often go unnoticed, even though they could play a big role in deciding both the Democratic nominee and the next president.
Working-class white men make up almost one-quarter of all voters. That’s more than blacks and Hispanics combined. The group is usually defined as those without a college degree, including union members and those with service and technical jobs. They typically make less than $50,000 a year. And, they make up huge chunks of the electorate in key states like Ohio, Michigan, Missouri and Pennsylvania.
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(CNN) - Hillary Clinton and her presidential campaign Wednesday pounced on a recent television interview with a surrogate of Barack Obama who was unable to identify a single accomplishment in the Illinois Democrat's Senate record.
"My good friend Congresswoman Stephanie Tubbs Jones from Ohio represented me on one of the TV programs in the last day or two— some of you may have seen her," Clinton said during a speech at Hunter College in New York City Wednesday. "And she was on against someone representing my opponent and for the first time, actually, the host, asked the representative of my opponent to name one accomplishment."
The interview in question was with Tubbs Jones and Texas State Sen. Kirk Watson on MSNBC Tuesday night. Host Chris Matthews asked Watson, a supporter of Obama, to name the Illinois senator's chief legislative accomplishments.
"Well, I am not going to be able to name you specific items of legislative accomplishment," Watson said.
Asked if it was a problem he was unable to name any of Obama's accomplishments, Watson said, "Well no I don't think it is. Because I think one of the things that Sen. Obama does is he inspires. He's able to lay out a vision, he's able to lay out solutions."
The Clinton campaign called the interview "Must See TV," and e-mailed a clip of it to reporters Wednesday morning - shortly before the New York Democrat mentioned it in her speech.
“That is all we’re asking," Clinton also said of the interview in her speech. "We’re asking to compare our records. We’re asking to compare our years of service. We’re asking to compare our ideas, our solutions."
Also in her speech Wednesday, Clinton maintained her campaign is moving forward.
“It is time to get real, “ Clinton continued, “to get real about how we actually win this election…It is time to move from good words to good works – from sound bites to sound solutions.”
Commenting on Obama's 10 straight victories, Clinton also conceded the Illinois senator "has had a couple of good weeks."
- CNN's Alexander Mooney and Mike Roselli
CNN Election Center: Check out the results from Wisconsin and Hawaii
(CNN) - Two Democratic sources tell CNN's Candy Crowley the International Brotherhood of Teamsters will endorse Barack Obama.
The Teamsters represents roughly 1.4 million members, making it one of the largest and influential labor unions.
Obama was endorsed Friday by the Service Employees International Union, the largest union with a membership of 1.5 million.
The Obama campaign also announced that the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers had decided to back the Illinois senator's White House bid.
UPDATE: Obama will meet with Teamsters leader James Hoffa later Wednesday.
(CNN) - Barack Obama may have boogied with talk-show host Ellen DeGeneres last year, but at a campaign event in Dallas Wednesday, the Illinois senator took a bow to another dancing all-star.
Former Dallas Cowboys football player and "Dancing With the Stars" champion Emmitt Smith gave Obama a rousing introduction, but it was Obama who heaped the most praise on his twinkle-toed supporter.
"I knew he could play football. I knew he could dance. But I didn't know he could fire up a crowd the way Emmitt Smith fires up a crowd," Obama said to cheers.
Fresh off his victories in Wisconsin and Hawaii Wednesday, Obama joked to a crowd that Smith would make a tough competitor in any contest.
"Emmitt, what can't you do?" Obama asked as he turned towards the charismatic star. "You haven't found anything yet. Unbelieveable."
"I'm just glad he's not running for president," Obama joked.
Related video: Watch Smith and Obama in Dallas Wednesday
- CNN Associate Producer Rachel Streitfeld
(CNN) - The campaigns of frontrunners John McCain and Barack Obama continued to battle Wednesday morning, as staffers followed a night of tough speeches with morning disputes over campaign finance and foreign policy.
Both men won the Wisconsin primary Tuesday night, and used their victory speeches to take aim at each other. Obama said the Republican senator represented the past; McCain said the Illinois Democrat’s views on foreign policy were "no more than a holiday from history.”
Wednesday morning, the McCain called Obama "naive" for saying he'd be willing to use military action against "our ally in Pakistan."
Obama said earlier in the campaign that he would consider using military force in Pakistan against terrorists without the permission of the Pakistani government.
One of the Obama campaign’s senior foreign policy advisers responded by once again linking McCain with George Bush – a frequently-used recent campaign trail theme.
On a conference call with reporters, former Clinton administration official Susan Rice said that McCain's "approach to foreign policy is very much a continuation of the flawed Bush policy - he really is in many respects just four more years of George Bush."
Rice added that "it's a strange contrast: he says that somehow it's naive for a presidential candidate to outline how he would deal with that crucial national security challenge, but it's appropriate for him to joke about starting another war."
Before the New Hampshire primary, McCain responded to a foreign policy question with a refrain of "bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb Iran," sung to the tune of the Beach Boys hit “Barbara Ann.”
–CNN Associate Political Editor Rebecca Sinderbrand
(CNN) - John McCain took aim at Barack Obama Wednesday for seeming to suggest in a USA Today editorial that he isn't ready to agree to public financing yet if he is the Democratic Party's presidential nominee.
"Facts are facts and that is that a year ago I signed a piece of paper and committed that if I were the nominee of my party that I would take public financing for the general election campaign, and at that time Sen. Obama made that same commitment," said McCain.
"Now I notice in a column in the USA Today he is talking about other outside money, about working out, look that is Washington double speak," McCain continued. I committed to public financing, he committed to public financing and it is not any more complicated than that. I hope he will keep his commitment to the American people.”
McCain's campaign also circulated a Midwest Democracy Network questionnaire last fall in which Obama wrote, "I have been a long-time advocate for public financing of campaigns combined with free television and radio time as a way to reduce the influence of moneyed special interests."
In his editorial, Obama did not mention public financing, but called campaign finance laws "complex" and proposed an agreement with the Republican nominee on spending limits.
"The candidates will have to commit to discouraging cheating by their supporters; to refusing fundraising help to outside groups; and to limiting their own parties to legal forms of involvement," Obama wrote. "And the agreement may have to address the amounts that Sen. McCain, the presumptive nominee of his party, will spend for the general election while the Democratic primary contest continues."
Responding to McCain's comments, Obama spokesman Bill Burton noted the Arizona senator turned down public financing for his primary campaign.
"John McCain is in no place to question anyone on pledges when he abandoned the latest campaign finance reform efforts in order to run for the Republican nomination and went back on his commitment to take public financing for the primary election this year," he said.
- CNN's Alexander Mooney and Tasha Diakides
(CNN) - Despite single digit showings in the Wisconsin and Washington State primaries Tuesday night, Ron Paul told CNN Wednesday he has no plans to drop his presidential bid.
"I will stay in as long as my supporters want me to," the Texas congressman said on American Morning Wednesday. "I was very reluctant to enter the race, didn't think it would last more than a month or two, but to my amazement, we literally got hundreds of thousands of supporters and millions of dollars, and they are still very enthusiastic. And I say as long as the number of volunteers continues to grow, and the money comes in, and there are primaries out there, and they want me to be involved, I am going to stay involved."
Paul, who won 5 percent of the vote in Wisconsin and 7 percent in Washington State, also said he believes his unlikely candidacy has attracted like-minded individuals who want to run for Congress.
"One of my problems now is that I am being overwhelmed with individuals who want to [run] and I have the responsibility of sorting it out because we are capable of raising funds," he said. "So it is a responsibly that will be a significant one for me to make sure I help the candidates that are true believes and not just the ones who want to be in Congress."
Paul announced earlier this month he was scaling back his presidential run to focus on his Texas district and the reelection race he faces there. He also categorically ruled out a third party bid in the future.
- CNN Ticker Producer Alexander Mooney
LITTLE ROCK, Arkansas (CNN) – Following a big loss in Wisconsin Tuesday night, reporters didn’t even get to ask Mike Huckabee the one question on everyone’s mind before he answered it himself.
“One of the things that I get asked every day and I’m sure you’re probably asking in the chorus, is why you keep going?” Huckabee told reporters. “Let me assure you that if it were ego, my ego doesn’t enjoy getting these kind of evenings where we don’t win the primary elections. So, it’s got be something other than that, and it is. It’s about convictions, it’s about principles that I dearly, dearly believe in.”
Those principles include giving as many voters as possible the chance to vote for a candidate with positions he feels are at odds with John McCain. “[McCain] does not support for example the human life amendment. He does support human embryonic stem cell research and I know our positions on immigration are significantly different,” listed Huckabee, adding, “doesn’t mean that his positions are bad, it means they’re different, and elections are about choices.”
On Wednesday, Huckabee heads to Texas, a state where he feels he can pick up conservative votes because “Texas is a state where independence matters a lot, people there don’t like to be told what to do, how to think, how to vote. I think we’ll find a very welcome atmosphere.”
He will also visit the Alamo on Thursday, invoking symbolism he feels is appropriate, “There’s a lot of history there, a lot of history of courage, of valor and also of people who stood by their convictions no matter what.”
UPDATE: In an interview on CNN's American Morning Wednesday, Huckabee suggested his continued presence in the presidential race is beneficial to the Republican Party.
"Not staying in the race hurts the GOP," he said. "It makes it like we're so weak that we can't have a debate and discussion. If this party is so completely incapable of discussing the issues that matter deeply to Republicans, then I'm not its problem. Its problem is that it doesn't have a message that it can run on and it wants to circle the wagons and act like it's all well. It's not all well."
WASHINGTON (CNN) – Three times may make a trend: for the third primary/caucus night in a row, Hillary Clinton has taken the stage at a post-election rally and failed to mention her losses, or congratulate her winning opponent, Barack Obama.
She spent Tuesday night at a rally in Youngstown, Ohio, looking ahead to the primary there on March 4. She made no mention of Wisconsin.
Last Tuesday in El Paso, Texas, hours after getting swept in the Potomac primaries that night, she didn’t acknowledge her rival’s big day. The Saturday before that in Richmond, Virginia, she spoke at the state’s Jefferson-Jackson Dinner and ignored Obama’s string of four primary and caucus wins that day.
After reports that focused on the second oversight, Clinton congratulated Obama at a press conference the next day.
Acknowledging your losses isn’t required in politics, though it is a courtesy that’s been practiced for decades.
Then again: it's also been traditional for candidates to delay their remarks to avoid overlapping with their opponents' speeches. Obama began his victory speech in Texas Tuesday while Hillary Clinton was still addressing the crowd in Ohio - and most of the networks cut away from her event mid-speech. (Granted, she had begun speaking after the expected start time.)
UPDATE: CNN's Mike Roselli reports that after their speeches ended, Clinton called Obama to offer private congratulations before she headed back to New York.
- CNN Political Producer Peter Hamby
(CNN) - If Ohio and Texas weren't already must-win states for Sen. Hillary Clinton, they certainly are now.Sen. Barack Obama continued his winning streak since Super Tuesday two weeks ago, picking up his ninth state in a row.But as significant as Obama's accelerating momentum is how he is increasingly swaying voters that Clinton could count on at the beginning of February.While Obama has been solidifying his base of younger, college-educated, higher-paid voters, he has steadily been chipping away Clinton's base of blue-collar, older, working-class voters.
- CNN's John Helton