WASHINGTON (CNN) - Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean stepped up his verbal assault on Republican presidential front-runner John McCain on Sunday, questioning the Arizona senator's integrity.
"Here's a guy who's a typical situational ethicist. He runs on his integrity, but he doesn't seem to have any," Dean told CNN's "Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer."
The Democratic chairman has spent a week pounding McCain - one of the architects of 2001's McCain-Feingold campaign finance law - over his attempt to opt out of public financing for his Republican primary campaign. In a complaint to the Federal Election Commission last week, Dean accused McCain of using the promise of federal funds to obtain a bank loan and automatic ballot access for his presidential bid while dodging federal spending limits.
"John McCain has a history of doing what it takes, regardless of what the ethics of this are," Dean said. "I think he's going to be a flawed candidate."
There was no immediate response to Dean's broadside from McCain's campaign.
The FEC has asked McCain's campaign to explain the terms of his loan, but the agency won't be able to resolve the matter until four vacancies on the six-member commission are filled. The campaign has said it acted legally, and did nothing more than what the Dean's 2004 presidential campaign did in rejecting public funding - an argument Dean says isn't true.
Dean said McCain "has a problem with personal integrity," citing his onetime ties to jailed savings-and-loan executive Charles Keating and his refusal to reject the support of televangelist John Hagee. The Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights has criticized McCain for accepting the endorsement of Hagee, who has called the Roman Catholic Church "the Great Whore" and a "cult."
Updated 6:11 p.m. with response from the McCain campaign: "John McCain is a man of integrity who will run on his record. Senators Clinton and Obama should denounce this desperate, personal smear campaign Howard Dean and the leaders of their party seem intent on running," the McCain campaign said in a statement to CNN.
–CNN's Jessica Rummel
(CNN) – In a conference call with reporters Sunday, Gen. Wesley Clark, one of Sen. Hillary Clinton’s most high-profile supporters with a military background, took the opportunity to address whether a woman could be counted on to use force when necessary to protect the United States.
“I hope that we’re past that,” Clark said. Noting that “during the Kosovo campaign we had some wonderful women flying airplanes, dropping bombs,” the former Supreme Allied Commander of NATO explained “women can fight and women will fight but they’ll fight smart.”
“Hillary Clinton is a fighter by nature,” he said. “I would have no concerns about her willingness to use force but I have great confidence that she’ll only use it as a last resort.”
Clark explained Clinton’s vote authorizing President Bush to take action in Iraq as “a vote for coercive diplomacy” rather than “a vote for war,” and said the Bush administration “misused” the authority granted to it by Congress.
Clark also told reporters that Clinton was more qualified than Sen. John McCain to be the next commander-in chief because McCain’s service as a naval fighter pilot did not prepare him “in terms of dealing with the national strategic issues that are involved” in being president. Clinton, in Clark’s estimation, has had the necessary experience to make high-level national security decisions because of her tenure in the U.S. Senate and her time as First Lady.
Clark and 15 other retired U.S. military flag officers, generals and admirals, used the call to explain why they are endorsing Clinton to be the nation’s next commander-in-chief.
Not to be outdone, the Obama campaign also held a conference call with reporters Sunday that highlighted Sen. Obama’s foreign policy experience. Dr. Susan Rice, a former Assistant Secretary of State during the administration of Clinton’s husband, said Sen. Clinton “continues to attack Barack Obama on foreign policy without offering any basis for her own experience.”
“It’s really not enough just to assert you have the experience to be commander-in-chief,” Rice said. “That assertion has to be backed up by a record of judgment and a vision of where you want to lead this country,” she added. Rice also detailed legislative and diplomatic accomplishments by Obama which his campaign says distinguish him from Clinton on foreign policy.
The two campaigns convened the calls after several days in which national security has been in the spotlight of the Democratic nomination race because of dueling ads in which Clinton and Obama each claimed to be the best person to protect the country in the event of an unexpected crisis.
–CNN Associate Producer Martina Stewart
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Democratic presidential candidates Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton hit the road in Ohio, relying on campaign surrogates to stump for them on the Sunday morning talk-shows.
The television appearances come at a critical time for both candidates as next Tuesday's key primaries in Texas, Ohio, Vermont and Rhode Island loom on the horizon. On CNN's "Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer," Clinton supporter Rep. Silvestre Reyes, D-Texas, explained why he is supporting the senator from New York.
"I'm supporting Hillary Clinton because I know she knows, understands and cares about issues that affect border communities like the one I represent."
Obama surrogate Sen. John Kerry, D-Massachusetts, also spoke to Blitzer, and defended his candidate's foreign policy experience.
"The fact is that Barack Obama comes to this race with more experience than George Bush, Ronald Reagan or Bill Clinton had in foreign policy at the national level. And the fact is that he has proven that it's his judgment that is correct," Kerry said.
HOUSTON, Texas (CNN) – Mike Huckabee is clearly tired of being asked if he’s dropping out of the race.
“What is the big hurry here?” Huckabee asked reporters in Houston Sunday. “I guess I fail to see it. The Democrats are still having a primary, and all of these [Republicans] who for the last two or three weeks have been saying, ‘let's hurry and get ours over with.’ Well, what's the hurry?”
“We have six or seven months before the convention, and another two months after that until we have the election,” continued Huckabee, adding, “I don't know that there's a bomb sitting under anybody's chair that's going to go off if we don't have the nominee all settled before we get through Texas and Ohio and go on to places like Mississippi and Pennsylvania and Nebraska and North Carolina.”
WESTERVILLE, Ohio (CNN) - In a high school gym just north of Columbus on Sunday, Hillary Clinton elaborated on just what kind of phone call she is prepared to take at three in the morning.
In tandem with a new campaign ad, Clinton has warned over the last three days that a president needs the right kind of experience to deal with such a phone call, and to make a split-second decision without advisers at her side.
“When those calls come in at 3 a.m. it might be a national security crisis,” she said in a hushed voice. “You know, it could be an economic crisis. The economy is facing some really troubled waters.”
Clinton linked a hypothetical middle-of-the-night economic crisis to terrorism or political upheaval abroad.
“Think about what could happen if there were unrest in Nigeria, or a terrorist act in Saudi Arabia,” she continued. “Oil would shoot to 150 dollars a barrel.”
The crowd applauded as she then criticized the Bush administration for wanting to “hold hands with the Saudis” rather than stand up to them.
In recent days, Clinton has demurred when asked to name a crucial 3 a.m. decision from her own experience.
Related: Dems battle in Texas
– CNN Political Producer Peter Hamby
(CNN) - Two days before the Texas primary, the Dallas Morning News published Sunday an editorial emphasizing its endorsement for former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, despite acknowledging that he has no chance of capturing the Republican presidential nomination.
Though Sen. John McCain of Arizona is the presumed nominee and "it is mathematically impossible" for Huckabee to pull ahead in delegates, Huckabee "remains our choice for the GOP nomination," the newspaper's editorial board wrote.
This is not the first time the paper has endorsed Huckabee. Last month, it called him a "a progressive conservative with a pastor's heart."
And in December, it called him "decent, principled and empathetic to the views and concerns of others - an antidote to the power-mad partisanship that has led U.S. politics to a dispiriting standstill."
The Dallas Morning News also endorsed Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., for the Democratic presidential nomination.
Updated 1:34 p.m. to note original endorsement occurred in December 2007.
(CNN) - Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton met her match while appearing on NBC's "Saturday Night Live" to deliver the show's trademark opening line and provide an "editorial response" to a mock presidential debate.
During the opening sketch - which featured SNL actors playing Clinton, rival candidate Barack Obama and the debate moderators - Clinton complimented the performance of Amy Poehler, who regularly lampoons Clinton with her impersonation of the senator from New York.
"I simply adore Amy's impression of me," Clinton said, providing the cue for Poehler to enter the stage, wearing the same two-button brown jacket and sporting Clinton's medium-length, layered hairstyle.