DAYTON, Ohio (CNN) - In what could be described as a fairly typical rally for Democrat Barack Obama Monday, the Illinois senator seemed to imply that the fierce battle between him and rival Hillary Clinton will all be over soon - exactly how soon, he didn't indicate.
The Democratic frontrunner made the subtle comments just as he started to delve into a portion of his stump where he lays out various arguments leveled at him from both "Sen. Clinton and others."
"I've got to say," Obama began, "in the waning days of this campaign a lot of people are saying 'no, no, no, don’t believe."
He then went on to give his rebuttal to the criticism that he doesn't have the necessary amount of experience in Washington.
-CNN Political Producer Chris Welch
(CNN) - John McCain backtracked Monday from his earlier comment that he could lose the presidential race over the Iraq war.
On Monday morning, McCain had told reporters that if he can't convince the American people the United States is succeeding, "then I lose. I lose," according to the Associated Press.
"We quickly retracted that," McCain later said of the comment. "I was not allowed to retract it, obviously. I don't mean that I'll quote ‘lose.' I mean that it's an important issue in the judgment of the American voters.
"I hope that that clarifies, it's not often that I retract a comment. I retracted the finality of that statement. I think the issue of the war in Iraq we all know is important to the American people and will be a major factor in their determining who they are going to support in the election in November," he said.
McCain also told CNN's Dana Bash that "I think that clearly my fortunes have a lot to do with what's happening in Iraq. And I'm proud of that because Sen. Clinton and Sen. Obama said we will not succeed militarily and we have."
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Sens. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama are in a statistical dead heat in Texas, according to a poll released eight days before the state's crucial presidential primary.
In the CNN/Opinion Research Corp. survey released Monday, 50 percent of likely Democratic primary voters said Obama is their choice for the party's nominee, while 46 percent backed Clinton.
But taking into account the poll's sampling error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points for Democratic respondents, the race is a virtual tie.
- CNN Deputy Political Director Paul Steinhauser
With Ralph Nader now in the presidential race, there’s a serious question those of us in the news media have to ask: How much air time do we give him?
He made his announcement Sunday on NBC's “Meet the Press,” where host Tim Russert gave him about 15 minutes to make his case.
I also have interviewed Nader on many occasions, most recently on Late Edition on Sunday, Febuary 3. He spent about ten minutes with me discussing the possibility of his throwing his hat into the ring. I had the impression that he was again on the verge of doing so – just as he did in 2000 (when he won 2.7 percent of the popular vote) and 2004 (when he won only 0.4 percent.)
In 2000, he did win 96,837 votes in Florida – a state that George W. Bush carried by only 537 votes. Many of those Nader votes no doubt would have gone to Al Gore if Nader had not been on the ballot.
In that interview with me earlier this month, he branded Hillary Clinton a “panderer.” He clearly liked Dennis Kucinich and John Edwards but with both of them out of the contest, he appeared a lot more eager to announce.
I also had the impression that he was struggling a bit in going after Barack Obama, who, if elected, would be the nation’s first African-American president. But he did say this to me: “He’s too abstract and too general. He comes on as a constitutional law specialist, but he offers nothing to hold this outlaw presidency of George W. Bush and Dick Cheney accountable…And he’s not speaking out.”
Now, Nader is in and is not holding back in his criticism of Obama. (As you can imagine, he finds John McCain totally unacceptable.)
I would be interested in getting your thoughts on the question I posed at the top – how much air time should we give him in the course of this upcoming general campaign? How seriously should we take his candidacy? Will he be a credible third party candidate along the lines of Ross Perot back in 1992 or will he simply be a marginal candidate with no real chance of winning?
Let me know what you think. And thanks.
- CNN Anchor Wolf Blitzer
"Ready on Day One?" That's the question posed by a front-page story in USA Today.
The story looks behind the political slogan and makes a startling discovery. None of the three main candidates for the White House is very long on the kind of experience being touted as necessary to run the country. You see, these three have never run anything that amounted to that much. Not a business, not a large corporation, not a state. No governors here, nothing. They are professional politicians whose managerial experience amounts to overseeing their campaigns and managing their offices in the Senate. Although truth be told, they probably all have someone else who actually does both of those things.
In fact, these three candidates have less executive experience than any president in nearly 50 years.
To read more and contribute to the Cafferty File discussion click here
WASHINGTON (CNN) - In a foreign policy address Monday at George Washington University, Sen. Hillary Clinton took on both Sens. Barack Obama and John McCain, saying she knows best how to use diplomacy and military strength, and is "ready to act swiftly and decisively in a crisis."
"We've seen the tragic result of having a president who had neither the experience nor the wisdom to manage our foreign policy and safeguard our national security," said Clinton, referring to President Bush.
"We can't let that happen again. America has already taken that chance one time too many."
A group of high-ranking former military and defense officials who support Clinton's candidacy joined her for the address.
"The American people don't have to guess whether I understand the issues, or whether I would need a foreign policy instruction manual to guide me through a crisis, or whether I'd have to rely on advisors to introduce me to global affairs," she said.
Focusing largely on her foreign policy vision of strengthening international relationships while protecting U.S. security, Clinton cited her Democratic rival and her potential Republican rival by name only toward the end of the speech.
(CNN) - Barack Obama’s campaign accused Hillary Clinton’s team Monday of circulating a photo of the Illinois senator donning traditional attire – clothing worn by area Muslims – as a goodwill gesture during an overseas trip.
In a statement, the Clinton campaign called the charge “an obvious and transparent attempt to distract” voters from serious issues – but did not issue a denial.
The picture, which appeared on the Drudge Report this morning, was attributed to sources within the Clinton campaign – although the Web site did not reveal how many, or who, might have received the photo.
In a statement, Obama’s campaign manager, David Plouffe, said Clinton’s campaign was engaged in “shameful, offensive fear-mongering,” though he did not point to any proof beyond the original item that appeared on Matt Drudge’s blog.
“This is part of a disturbing pattern that led her county chairs to resign in Iowa, her campaign chairman to resign in New Hampshire,” said Plouffe. “and it’s exactly the kind of divisive politics that turns away Americans of all parties and diminishes respect for America in the world."
Earlier this year, some Clinton volunteers left her campaign in those states after circulating e-mails that falsely claimed Barack Obama was a Muslim – an inaccurate rumor his campaign has worked hard to dispel - and suggesting that his drug use as a young man might make him vulnerable to Republican attacks were he to become the nominee.
(CNN) - The anti-Iraq war group VoteVets.org is taking aim at John McCain over his Iraq war stance in a new television ad launching later this week.
The ad, to begin running in the Washington, DC area on Thursday, features veteran Rose Forrest, who served in Iraq for 12 months.
"John McCain says it's ok with him if the U.S. spends the next 1,000 years in Iraq," she says in the ad.
Then, picking up her infant son, Forrest says, "What kind of commitment are you making to him? How about a thousand years of affordable healthcare, or a thousand years of keeping America safe. Could you afford that for my child, Sen. McCain, or have you already agreed to spend trillions in Baghdad?"
The 30-second spot is set to run for two days, though it may expand beyond that to other markets. The McCain campaign has not responded to a request for comment on the ad.
News of the ad comes the same day VoteVets, along with several other organizations including MoveOn.org, SEIU, and Americans United for Change launched a nationwide campaign to defeat Republican members of Congress, and link the cost of the Iraq war with the country's economic downturn.
Former presidential candidate John Edwards and his wife, Elizabeth, touted the nationwide effort in a conference call with reporters Monday morning.
"People don't understand why we're spending $500 billion and counting in Iraq at the same time that we've got 40 million-plus Americans who don't have any healthcare coverage, 37 million living in poverty, people terrified about being able to pay their bills," Edwards said. "All of these things are made much worse by concern about what's happening in Iraq."
The groups said they were prepared to spend $20 million on television advertisements between now and November that take aim at McCain and at least 50 members of Congress.
- CNN Ticker Producer Alexander Mooney
(CNN)—John McCain joined President Bush Monday in condemning Congress for its failure to renew legislation that would provide legal immunity for telecom companies that participate in warantless government wiretapping.
“[It’s] worse than embarrassing,” McCain said at a campaign event in Ohio, it’s “disgraceful” that Congress has not yet approved FISA renewal.
Opponents of the measure have said the government already possesses the necessary jurisdiction to monitor potential terrorist activity and it would provide the government with too much power.
Democratic presidential candidates Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton both oppose giving retroactive immunity for telecoms, though when the matter came up earlier this month, only Obama made it to the Senate vote. Clinton was on a campaign trip in Texas.
Despite the gridlock between the White House and Congress over the new terrorism surveillance program, the telephone companies have agreed to continue cooperation with government wiretaps for now, according to a joint statement released Saturday by U.S. Attorney General Michael Mukasey and National Intelligence Director Michael McConnell.
President Bush said Monday that without this renewal it would not be possible to properly monitor terrorist communication. If a terrorist is calling the United States “we really need to know what they are saying, and we need to know what they are thinking, and we need to know who they are talking to,” said Bush.
He added, “Should companies who are believed to have helped us after 9/11 till today, get information necessary to protect the country be sued? My answer is absolutely not, they shouldn't be sued.”
–CNN’s Emily Sherman
New surveys conducted by Quinnipiac University, the University of Cincinnati, and the American Research Group all show Clinton with roughly a 10 point lead over Obama, with eight days to go until Ohioans head to the polls.
In the Quinnipiac University poll, Clinton leads Obama by 11 points (51- 40 percent). She holds an 8 point lead in the University of Cincinnati poll (47 percent to 39 percent), and a 10 point lead in the American Research Group poll (49 – 39 percent).
While Clinton still holds a lead in Ohio, a Quinnipiac poll released on February 12 showed Clinton with a 21-point lead over Obama, and a Columbus Dispatch Poll released late last month had Clinton up 23 percent there.
After 11 straight Obama wins, the Clinton campaign has said that victories in Ohio and Texas are crucial to the New York senator's White House hopes.
- CNN Ticker Producer Alexander Mooney