WACO, Texas (CNN) - Hillary Clinton attempted to raise the stakes of the upcoming March 4 primaries Friday by forcefully calling into question Barack Obama's qualifications to become commander-in-chief.
At a rally in Waco, with more than two dozen military veterans and flag officers standing behind her, Clinton criticized Obama for being "missing in action" during key security decisions in the Senate and claimed that he had "no responsibility" when he gave an anti-war speech in 2002 as an Illinois state senator.
Her comments coincided with a new campaign ad released in Texas that asks voters who they want to answer the phone in the White House at 3 a.m. when "there's something happening in the world."
Obama criticized the ad earlier Friday, saying it was an attempt to "scare up votes."
Clinton disputed that notion in her speech Friday, saying, "Well I don't think people in Texas scare all that easily."
In a salvo against Obama that lasted several minutes, Clinton said, "There's a big difference between giving a speech at anti war rally as a state senator and dealing with an international crisis as president."
"There's a difference between giving a speech when you have no responsibility," she argued, "and having to step up and take charge and take the responsibility for your actions."
She charged that Obama was "missing in action" when he missed a Senate vote last year on a nonbinding resolution in that labeled the Iranian Revolutionary Guard a terrorist organization (Clinton voted for the measure and faced heat from Obama and other Democratic rivals for supporting a measure pushed by the Bush administration.)
She also said Obama was "missing in action" by failing in his chairmanship of a Senate subcommittee on Europe to hold a hearing on NATO's presence in Afghanistan, a fact she has emphasized in recent days on the campaign trail.
(CNN) - National security has taken center stage just days before Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama go head-to-head in delegate-rich Ohio and Texas. Clinton released a new ad targeting voters' sense of security for themselves and their children. Obama fired back with an ad of his own trumpeting what he asserts is his superior judgment on issues of national security. Jessica Yellin reports from Houston, Texas.
National security was also on John McCain's mind Friday. The Republican front-runner hammered Clinton and Obama, suggesting their pledge to renegotiate NAFTA might endanger Canada's continued support of the U.S. military effort in Afghanistan. McCain also battled controversy as a Catholic group challenged McCain to reject the support of an evangelical pastor in Texas. Dana Bash reports.
Will the nation's largest minority voters make history in 2008 by determining the outcome of the White House race? John Zarella takes a look at Latino voters, an important demographic group in key states on the electoral map.
Finally, Jennifer Mikell brings you this week's Trail Mix - a look at the most memorable moments out on the trail.
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–CNN Associate Producer Martina Stewart
WASHINGTON (CNN) - A senior White House official, Tim Goeglein, has resigned after he admitted copying large sections of an essay he wrote for a newspaper in Fort Wayne, Ind., the White House confirmed Friday.
"Today, Tim accepted responsibility for the columns published under his name in his local newspaper, and has apologized for not upholding the standards expected by the President," the White House said in a written statement. "The President was disappointed to learn of the matter, and he was saddened for Tim and his family. He has long appreciated Tim's service, and he knows him to be a good person who is committed to his country.
"President Bush accepted Tim's resignation today."
In an e-mail to The News-Sentinel, Goeglein, special assistant to the president and deputy director of public liaison, apologizes, saying, "It is true. I am entirely at fault. It was wrong of me. There are no excuses."
Goeglein said he has reached out to the author, Jeffery Hart, whose 1998 writings in the Dartmouth Review he copied nearly verbatim. "I have written to Jeff to apologize, and do so categorically and without exception," he says.
Clinton has a slight edge in Ohio while the two are statistically tied in Texas (AP Photo).
(CNN) - Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama are statistically tied in Texas while the New York Democrat holds a slight lead in Ohio, according to a new poll out Friday of the crucial March 4 primary states.
According to a new poll from Fox News, Clinton holds an 8-point lead in Ohio (46-38 percent), buoyed by demographics that have carried her to victory in previous primaries - white women, seniors, and members of the working class.
Obama has a slight edge in Texas (48-45 percent), but is statically tied with the New York Democrat there given the poll's 4 percentage point margin of error. The poll suggests Clinton's base is holding up in the state, but that support is not enough to overtake Obama's strong advantage among independent and African-American voters.
Factoring in the Fox poll, a CNN analysis of the most recent surveys from Ohio and Texas show Clinton with a 7-point lead in Ohio and Obama up by 4 in Texas.
The new poll comes on the same day both presidential campaigns sought to raise the other's expectations next Tuesday. Obama campaign manager David Plouffe said Clinton needs to garner decisive wins to chip away at the Illinois senator's significant lead among pledged delegates. But Clinton communications director Howard Wolfson contended that Obama should win all the March 4 contests given that he outspent Clinton nearly 2 to 1 in those states.
- CNN Ticker Producer Alexander Mooney
(CNN) - In a direct response to a Hillary Clinton television ad, Barack Obama's campaign Friday released its own 30 second spot raising the prospect of an early morning foreign policy crisis.
"It’s 3 a.m. and your children are safe and asleep," the ad's narrator states in an obvious take off of the Clinton ad released earlier in the day. "But there’s a phone ringing in the White House. Something’s happening in the world. (Related: Clinton raises the stakes in new ad)
"When that call gets answered, shouldn’t the president be the one – the only one – who had judgment and courage to oppose the Iraq war from the start… Who understood the real threat to America was al-Qaeda, in Afghanistan, not Iraq," the narrator continues. "Who led the effort to secure loose nuclear weapons around the globe… In a dangerous world, it’s judgment that matters."
- CNN Ticker Producer Alexander Mooney
FORT WORTH, Texas (CNN) - Up against the ropes and in need of a good showing in Tuesday’s Texas primary to justify staying in the race, Huckabee told reporters in Lubbock Friday that his presidential bid will continue if John McCain fails to clinch the nomination on March 4.
“I guess we keep plugging away,” said Huckabee, “as long as people are contributing and giving us the capacity to keep going and we haven’t been defeated by the number of delegates that are required to beat us, then we’re still in it.”
Asked specifically what his plans are after the March 4 primaries in Texas, Ohio, Rhode Island and Vermont, Huckabee said he would go to Mississippi and Pennsylvania since they hold the next contests. He also noted that after Tuesday, the primary calendar is much more spread out.
Huckabee has argued in recent days that not only does McCain not have enough delegates yet for the nomination, but also that the Arizona senator may be unable to campaign between now and September, should the Federal Elections Commission rule he is subject to spending limits.
Asked if a sidelined McCain would benefit him, Huckabee responded, “[It’s] only good for me if nobody’s gotten those delegate counts because I could go ahead and campaign and he couldn’t.”
The former Arkansas governor has staked his future in the race on succeeding in Texas, but polls show him trailing McCain by almost 30 percentage points.
“We’re doing everything I know how to do, we’re hitting every community, every rally, our television [ads] went up,” Huckabee told CNN, “and you know, we’re feeling that we’re going to close that gap.”
- CNN Political Producer Alexander Marquardt
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Barack Obama doesn't even have the Democratic nomination, and yet questions are already swirling over whether he could withstand the fierce assault he certainly would face from the Republicans in a general election. Whatever criticism he confronted during the Democratic primaries would likely be child’s play compared to what’s coming up.
That fear was reinforced by the front-page story in The New York Times entitled “For Obama, Taste of What a Long Battle Holds.” Adam Nagourney writes that Republican “opposition research” is gearing up for a battle against Obama. The suggestion is that they will use material from Obama’s past that Hillary Clinton and the other Democratic candidates avoided.
“Some cases are simple let’s-go-to-the-video moments, like Mr. Obama’s statements that he would support giving drivers’ licenses to illegal aliens or would support raising taxes to shore up Social Security, lines of attack that Republicans are already employing,” Nagourney writes. Other material could be more explosive.
“He regularly goes out there and says he’s the person who can beat John McCain,” chief Clinton strategist Mark Penn is quoted as saying. “But the truth is, if he is ever in a general election, a lot of positions he took in 2003 and 2004 will come back to haunt him in a big way and a lot of the vetting that didn’t happen will happen. The independent and Republican support that he has had will evaporate really quickly.”
Clinton's camp is convinced that she could withstand a Republican assault in a general election campaign better than Obama. They have often pointed out that she has a lot more experience in this area – given the battles she’s faced over the years. Her supporters are especially anxious right now that voters in Texas and Ohio appreciate what could be in store for Obama before making up their minds. And that’s the case for the Superdelegates as well.
- Wolf Blitzer
Obama said Friday Clinton's ad is an attempt to scare voters. (AP Photo)
(CNN) - Democrat Barack Obama said Friday that rival Hillary Clinton is trying to scare voters with a new television ad that raises the prospect of a foreign crisis over images of children asleep in their beds.
"We've seen these ads before," the Illinois senator said at a campaign event in Houston, Texas. "They're the kind that play on people's fears to scare up votes.
"Well, it won't work this time," he continued. "Because the question is not about picking up the phone. The question is: What kind of judgment will you make when you answer?"
The ad, launched Friday in Texas ahead of that state's crucial March 4 primary, shows children asleep in their beds in the middle of the night while a narrator references a potential national security crisis and asks, "It's 3 a.m. and your children are safely asleep. Who do you want answering the phone?"
Obama campaign manager David Plouffe denounced the ad in a conference call with reporters earlier Friday. And in his comments in Houston, Obama said, "We've had a red phone moment. It was the decision to invade Iraq. And Senator Clinton gave the wrong answer. George Bush gave the wrong answer. John McCain gave the wrong answer."
The Clinton campaign meanwhile vigorously defended the ad, and brushed aside notions it is reminiscent of the famous Lyndon Johnson "Daisy" ad, which portrayed a young girl counting down to a nuclear attack.
"This is a positive ad," Clinton adviser Mark Penn said. "Very soft images, not at all like that ad. Soft images. And it poses a question to people that they have to answer themselves: Who do they want to pick up the phone?"
"That ad basically envisions the apocalypse, and that is not what this ad does," Clinton communications director Howard Wolfson said. "This ad basically says, 'You know what? We are electing a president and it matters who is handling a phone call in a crisis at 3 a.m. as president.' That is a legitimate matter for a presidential campaign."
- CNN Ticker Producer Alexander Mooney
Music plays an important role on the campaign trail. The right song can rally the crowd and get them pumped up before the candidate gets onstage.
But, several of the presidential candidates have had problems when it comes to picking their music. Hillary Clinton held an online contest to choose her song and came up with the "You and I" by Celine Dion. Fine, except Dion is Canadian. That song had to be scrapped.
John McCain at one point was using John Mellencamp's hits like "Our Country" and "Pink Houses". But the liberal rocker apparently wasn't comfortable with the conservative McCain using his tunes and told him to stop. McCain also ran into problems using the theme song from "Rocky," and also opted against using "Take a Chance on Me" by the Swedish group Abba because of licensing and other concerns.
To read more and contribute to the Cafferty File discussion click here
(CNN) –Longtime West Virginia Sen. Jay Rockefeller endorsed Barack Obama’s White House bid Friday, praising the Illinois senator for his initial opposition to the Iraq war.
"I am all too aware that the threats we face are unconventional," Rockefeller, the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee said in a statement. "They are sophisticated. They are constantly changing and adapting. And they are very serious. What matters most in the Oval Office is sound judgment and decisive action. It’s about getting it right on crucial national security questions the first time – and every time.”
News of the endorsement comes the same day both Democratic presidential campaigns are engaged in a heated back and forth over which candidate is best equipped to handle national security issues.
In the statement, Rockefeller also said he is supporting Obama because of his "commitment to rebuild America."
"I know Barack Obama will fight and win the battle for health care, good paying jobs, and energy security," Rockefeller wrote.
- CNN Ticker Producer Alexander Mooney