(CNN) - Republican National Committee Chairman Mike Duncan formally denounced Thursday the Tennessee Republican Party's use of Barack Obama's full name in a recent press release questioning the Illinois senator's commitment to Israel.
“The RNC rejects these kinds of campaign tactics," RNC Chairman Mike Duncan said in a statement. "We believe this election needs to be about the critical issues confronting our nation.”
The statement in question, which was released Monday, said the state party is joining a "growing chorus of Americans concerned about the future of the nation of Israel…if Sen. Barack Hussein Obama is elected president of the United States.” It also included a photograph of Obama from a 2006 trip to Kenya in which he is dressed in traditional attire worn by area Muslims.
The press release was sparked by recent praise for the Illinois senator from Nation of Islam Leader Louis Farrakhan, who has made several derogatory remarks about Judaism and has indicated his support for Obama. At Tuesday night's MSNBC debate, Obama said he denounced those comments and did not seek Farrakhan's support.
On Wednesday night the party removed both the photo and the reference of Hussein from the statement after Tennessee Sen. Lamar Alexander called to express his belief that using them had become a distraction, Tennessee GOP Communications Director Bill Hobbs told CNN.
- CNN Ticker Producer Alexander Mooney
There's a lot of information voters still don't have about Hillary Clinton, including the White House records from when she was first lady along with her tax returns.
When asked at this week's debate about the White House records, Clinton said she would "absolutely" release the documents to show the public what she did and who she met with over the course of those 8 years. She said she's quote "urged the process be as quick as possible."
Well, the Bush administration now says it's actually the Clintons who have been holding up the release of those records. They say former President Bill Clinton's representative hasn't made any move yet to release over 11-thousand pages of records. The Clinton campaign says it may take two more weeks for that representative to decide what to release and then to request the release of the documents from the White House. How convenient – that would be after next Tuesday when Texas and Ohio hold their primaries.
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(CNN) - Ralph Nader has selected a former San Francisco city official as his running mate in the presidential race.
Nader announced his selection of Matt Gonzalez, who served as a public defender and a member of the board of supervisors in San Francisco, at a news conference Wednesday.
"It is an honor to run with Mr. Nader," Gonzalez said. "I hold him in high esteem and share his politics."
Gonzalez said his priorities in the campaign are election reform, poverty and the war in Iraq.
"I find Matt Gonzalez unwavering in his principles," Nader said.
He announced Sunday that he will launch his fourth consecutive White House bid - fifth if his 1992 write-in campaign is included.
Many Democrats fear Nader could draw votes from whoever gets the party's nomination, potentially helping presumptive Republican nominee Sen. John McCain win the White House in November. Nader has long rejected accusations that he served as a spoiler in 2000, in effect helping George W. Bush beat out Al Gore.
(CNN) - Former Bill Clinton Press Secretary Dee Dee Myers is the latest to join the chorus of those claiming that Texas and Ohio are must-win states for Hillary Clinton.
Echoing the former president's sentiment, Myers told CNN on Thursday that Super Tuesday was initially must-win for Clinton, but “looking at Texas and Ohio, it’s a do-or-die test.”
She also added that not only does Clinton have to win those states, but she also has to win by large enough margins to chip away at Barack Obama's lead in the delegate count.
According the latest CNN estimates, Clinton trails Obama by 102 delegates with 1,267 to his 1,369 . However, Clinton leads in the superdelegate race with 236 to Obama's 185 .
Myers, who has not formally endorsed a presidential candidate, said Clinton holds overwhelming support among voters who view experience as “the most important credential.”
New Jersey Sen. Robert Menendez, a Clinton supporter, said he believes the New York senator will win in Texas because of her ability to speak on the issues.
“I think it’s Hillary’s message that is going to achieve victory on that day, ” Menendez told CNN on Thursday. “In Texas, she’s been talking about the foreclosure crisis. [She is] the only candidate that has a plan to deal with it.”
There are 439 delegates up for grabs in the March 4 contests - which are being called the "Second Super Tuesday" - in Texas, Ohio, Vermont and Rhode Island.
–CNN's Emily Sherman
(CNN) - John McCain Thursday continued his attacks on Barack Obama over the issue of Iraq, saying the Illinois senator isn't focused on how victory can be achieved there.
"Yesterday Senator Obama said, 'Well we shouldn't have gone in in the first place. If we hadn't gone in the first place we wouldn’t be facing this problem.' " McCain said at a town hall event in Houston, Texas. "Well that's history. That's the past. That's talking about what happened before. What we should be talking about is what we're going to do now."
McCain's comments follow a back-and-forth between the two candidates on Wednesday over Obama's remarks at a recent debate regarding what he would do if al Qaeda establishes a presence in Iraq after American troops left.
"I always reserve the right for the president ... to make sure that we are looking out for American interests," Obama said during Tuesday's debate. "And if al Qaeda is forming a base in Iraq, then we will have to act in a way that secures the American homeland and our interests abroad."
McCain criticized Obama for the remarks, saying "It's a remarkable statement to say that you would send troops back to a place where al Qaeda has established a base - where they have already established a base."
Obama quickly hit back, declaring, "There was no such thing as al Qaeda in Iraq until George Bush and John McCain decided to invade Iraq."
- CNN's Carol Cratty and Alexander Mooney contributed to this report
(CNN) - President Bush on Thursday urged Congress to vote on an update to the terrorist surveillance bill, which allows the intelligence community to conduct surveillance on foreigners without a warrant.
A temporary update to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act expired more than a week ago.
"The law expired, the threat to America didn't expire," the president told reporters.
LITTLE ROCK, Arkansas (CNN) - Mike Huckabee put a 30-second television ad in rotation Houston and Dallas on Wednesday ahead of Texas’ March 4th primary.
Titled “Stand Up,” Huckabee credits Texas for its reputation of going against the grain. “Being independent is being Texas. Not going along just to 'get along.' It means standing for something so you don’t fall for just anything.”
Huckabee is counting on Texans’ supposed independence to close the sizeable gap in the polls between him and John McCain.
At his rallies, Huckabee lists the issues that separate him from John McCain and does so again in the ad, “I'm the only candidate supporting the Human Life Amendment, stopping illegal immigration with a real border security plan, and the Fair Tax.”
“It's time to stand up and be counted—not lie down and be conquered.”
- CNN Political Producer Alexander Marquardt
WASHINGTON (CNN) - President Bush will meet with the media Thursday and urge Congress to take action on four issues, including his AIDS-relief program for Africa, or PEPFAR, and the government's warrantless wiretapping program, known as FISA, a White House spokeswoman said.
A press conference is scheduled for 10:05 a.m. in the White House Briefing Room. The other topics are Iraq and housing reform, Dana Perino said.
(CNN) - New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who has publicly flirted with the idea of a run for the White House as an independent, says he will not run for president.
"I listened carefully to those who encouraged me to run, but I am not - and will not be - a candidate for president," Bloomberg wrote in an op-ed posted on the New York Times Web site Wednesday night in advance of Thursday's paper.
The 66-year-old billionaire had publicly repeated that he was not a candidate for president in recent months, while leaving open the option that he could become one.
Related: John Dickerson analyzes Bloomberg's decision not to run
WASHINGTON (CNN) - White House spokeswoman Dana Perino briefly waded into the presidential campaign on Wednesday, denying a suggestion by Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-New York, that the Bush administration may be slowing down the release of more than 11,000 pages of documents related to her time as first lady.
Perino said the Bush administration has previously moved fast to release roughly 550,000 pages of documents from the Clinton administration. She said in this case the White House is waiting for a representative for former President Clinton, Bruce Lindsey, to approve the release of the new documents and then formally ask the Bush administration to do so.
"And if the Clinton representative approves the release of the records, we act as quickly as practical to get them out," Perino said, when a reporter asked about the controversy at the White House daily briefing. "And as I said, we don't have anything pending at the moment."
During a debate with Sen. Barack Obama, D-Illinois, on Tuesday night, a journalist pressed Clinton on whether she will make sure the documents are released during the primary season to give voters a clearer view of her experience as first lady. "I have urged that our end of it move as expeditiously as we can," said Clinton. "Now, also, President Bush claims the right to look at anything that is released, and I would urge the Bush White House to move as quickly as possible."
Clinton spokesman Jay Carson told CNN the senator was not trying to cast any blame on the president. "All she did was note President Bush is part of the process, not that he's in any way holding this up," said Carson. "He's not [delaying this], and she's not either."
Carson said the latest batch of documents, which consist of her schedules during eight years as first lady, were cleared by the National Archives on Jan. 31. That triggered a 45-day period for Lindsey to review the documents for any sensitive material before he has to give the White House a recommendation on whether or not to release the papers.
"We still have 17 of those 45 days," said Carson. "We expect to approve and release those documents, but we're in the process of doing all that now."
Pressed on whether the Clinton camp is dragging out the process so that voters will not see the documents before next Tuesday's key primaries in Ohio and Texas, Carson insisted they are moving as quickly as possible. "It's eleven thousand papges of documents being reviewed by one person who has a day job," he said of Lindsey.
- CNN White House Correspondent Ed Henry