(CNN)— Following Tuesday’s primaries in Texas, Ohio, Rhode Island and Vermont the Democratic party remains split between Sens. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. In the latest installment of CNN=Politics Daily, Jessica Yellin reports on the newest efforts by the Democrats to define their differences and gain the necessary competitive edge.
John McCain officially clinched the number of delegates required to claim his parties nomination following victories in Tuesday’s primaries and gained the unexpected support of President Bush. CNN’s Dana Bash reports on why President Bush held off his endorsement until now and whether his backing will help or hurt McCain this fall.
Meanwhile, fresh off her wins in Texas, Ohio and Rhode Island, Hillary Clinton seems to have gained back some momentum. Senior Political Analyst Bill Schneider breaks down the numbers and explains how she pulled of the big wins despite being down in the polls.
The Democrats are moving forward claiming Pennsylvania as the next critical state in the nominating process. CNN’s Jim Acosta reports on what the candidates are doing to woo Pennsylvania’s voters before the state’s April 22 primary.
Finally, despite Hillary Clinton’s victory in the Texas primary the results in the caucuses are still unclear. Internet Reporter Abbi Tatton reports on the frustration of Texas caucus goers over the lack of organization at caucus sites.
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Don't silence more than 5.1 million Americans. That's the message coming from Florida and Michigan.
The governors of these two states, Charlie Crist and Jennifer Granholm, have joined together calling on the Democratic and Republican National Committees to seat their delegates. They say it's "intolerable" that the political parties have denied their citizens their votes, especially since Americans have turned out in record numbers to exercise this right.
But Michigan and Florida were penalized for moving up their primaries. Hillary Clinton is claiming victories in both states, despite the fact that Barack Obama wasn't even on the ballot in Michigan and didn't campaign in Florida. She included both states in last night's speech as she rattled off all the "battleground states" she's won so far.
To read more and contribute to the Cafferty File discussion click here
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Bill Clinton’s former White House chief of staff thinks his old boss has been doing a pretty good job staying out of trouble.
Leon Panetta told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer Wednesday that Clinton “has been very controlled” on the campaign trail in recent weeks.
“He’s handled himself pretty well over the last few weeks,” said Panetta, who served as chief of staff in the White House from 1994-1997.
“He’s been obviously involved,” Panetta said, asked how visible the former president should be in his wife’s presidential bid. “He’s working very hard top try to help his wife out, as he should.”
“But I think in particular, he’s been much better at talking about the issues that count, and I hope they continue to use him in that way, because I think he can be very effective.”
Panetta said that while Clinton cares a great deal about what happens in the presidential race, “he himself knows that when he speaks, he’s going to have to speak carefully.”
- CNN Political Producer Peter Hamby
WASHINGTON (CNN) - For years, Republicans have stressed a three-pronged platform in trying to win votes. They’ve long maintained that they’re strong on national security, on cutting taxes and on social issues, including a strong opposition to abortion.
When President Bush welcomed John McCain to the White House to endorse his presidential candidacy, for example, he said voters will decide on a candidate based on who best can “protect the country and keep taxes low, and how to have a culture that respects the dignity of every human being.”
After effectively capturing the Republican nomination Tuesday night, John McCain stressed only two of those three pillars in his carefully-crafted remarks.
He spoke at length about national security, noting that “America is at war in two countries.” He spoke about the economy. “We will campaign to strengthen job growth in America by helping businesses become more competitive with lower taxes and less regulation,” he said.
But missing from his remarks was any reference to the third pillar - the social issues. Even though he has a long record opposing abortion, he ignored that sensitive issue in his victory speech. Was that deliberate? Now that he has the Republican nomination in hand, is he already moving beyond the need to reach out to the social and religious conservatives in the Republican Party in the hope of bringing in support from moderate and independent voters?
The late President Richard Nixon used to say that successful Republican presidential candidates need to run to the right during the primaries - but then run back to the center after securing the nomination.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Congressional Democrats settled in Wednesday for an extended fight to the presidential nomination after Tuesday's primaries failed to produce a clear frontrunner, while at least one Democratic leader urged party officials to let the electoral process take its course.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said now is not the time for party officials to wade into the fight over the Democratic presidential nomination.
"I think the electoral process has to work its way," she told reporters. "There are still many voters unheard from yet, and I think that our candidates both have the capacity to inspire, to bring out a big vote that will hold us in good stead in November, and I think that now is not the time for anybody to weigh in."
Many party officials are superdelegates, but Pelosi aides said that the speaker was cautioning party officials against pushing for a quick end to the nomination process rather than warning any who are superdelegates not to commit to a candidate.
Pelosi said she is confident the nominee will be decided before the Democratic convention in August.
She said she was "never among those who believed this would be resolved by now," and argued that the prolonged campaign is good for the party, offering Democrats a chance to "make a clear distinction" about their differences with Republicans on a range of issues.
She pointed to Iraq, noting the Democratic candidates are talking about "responsible redeployment versus a 100-year-war that Senator McCain has spoken about."
She was referring to McCain's comment that even after fighting ends, U.S. troops might remain in Iraq for up to 100 years, just as U.S. troops have remained in South Korea for more than half a century after the fighting there stopped.
House Democratic Caucus Chairman Rahm Emanuel, D-Ill., also hammered McCain on Iraq, saying, "Under President Bush and with John McCain's support, America's economy has been hijacked by Iraq and our investment there."
Democratic senators joined Pelosi in appearing confident the party will unite behind the eventual nominee and being largely unconcerned about the prospects of a lengthy battle.
"I don't think it's a bad thing," said Sen. Joe Biden, D-Del., a former candidate who said the race is "far from over."
"At the end of the day we will unite to prevent another Republican from making it in the White House," he said.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - An upcoming report will detail more problems with the way the FBI used an investigative tool called national security letters (NSLs), FBI Director Robert Mueller told the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday.
The Justice Department's inspector general is expected to soon issue an audit detailing how the bureau used NSLs in 2006. Mueller told the panel the new report will show problems similar to ones detailed in an inspector general audit released last March covering the years 2003-2005.
The previous report documented problems with improper requests and unauthorized collection of phone and e-mail records, and indicated the FBI did not report all possible violations of procedures in the use of NSLs once officials became aware of them as required by law.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - President Bush endorsed Sen. John McCain for president on Wednesday, saying the presumptive Republican nominee has the "character, courage and perseverance" to lead the country.
McCain thanked the president for his support and the work he has done in the Oval Office.
"I appreciate his endorsement, and I appreciate his service to our country," said McCain, adding that he wanted Bush at his side as much as possible on the campaign trail.
(CNN) - The morning after primary wins in Ohio, Texas, and Rhode Island, Hillary Clinton said she would consider being part of a Democratic “dream ticket” that would include both her and presidential rival Barack Obama.
"That may be where this is headed,” she told the CBS Early Show during a marathon set of appearances on the network morning news shows. “But of course we have to decide who is on the top of ticket. I think the people of Ohio very clearly said that it should be me."
The New York senator has made the claim before. Last month, in one of several interviews where she said the scenario was a possibility, she told a Vibe interviewer: “Of course there is (a chance of a joint ticket). Of course there is. Now neither of us will answer this question because we don’t want to look presumptuous and premature. But it is more than fair to say that — of course there is.”
While Clinton has said a joint ticket is possible, the Obama team has largely avoided making similar statements. Some of the Illinois senator’s campaign surrogates have said they believe the claims benefit Clinton because they may convince Democratic voters drawn to the Illinois senator that a vote for her is essentially a vote for both of them - or a vote for him to head the ballot in eight years, after she has had her two terms on top of the ticket.
Primary season rivals who have successfully shared a presidential ticket after tough nominating fights include Democrats John Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson, and Republicans Ronald Reagan and George Bush.
- CNN Associate Political Editor Rebecca Sinderbrand
(CNN) - A recently-formed group that debuted a million-dollar attack ad against presumptive GOP nominee John McCain this week is backed by deep-pockets Democratic donors planning a major campaign-year push.
The Campaign to Defend America, which is backed financially by the Fund for America, began airing “McSame” in the crucial general election swing state of Ohio earlier this week. The ad compares McCain’s and the president’s positions on tax cuts, energy policy, health care and the war in Iraq, saying that the Arizona senator is “McSame as Bush.”
“Tell John McCain we need a new direction. Not the McSame old thing,” says the announcer in the 30-second spot.
Late last year, shortly after it formed, the Campaign ran tough ads targeting four Republican senators over their support for President Bush’s policy in Iraq.
The Fund is a 527, which means it does not face typical federal restrictions on fundraising and spending, as long as it does not coordinate with or directly advocate for a particular candidate. The Campaign for America is a 501 (c) (4) issue advocacy group.
The group’s official leadership includes Anna Burger of the Service Employees International Union and Change to Win, which have endorsed Democrat Barack Obama, and Rob McKay of the Democracy Alliance, a coalition of some of the party’s wealthiest backers. The SEIU and progressive philanthropist George Soros have already donated millions to the effort.
–CNN Associate Political Editor Rebecca Sinderbrand
(CNN)–She’s always dressed in a killer suit and never has a hair out of place. We went to Phoenix, where Cindy McCain grew up, to talk with those who know her best. Good friend Betsy Bayless, a former Arizona secretary of state, says Cindy is a “fun down to earth person with a great sense of humor.”
She had a privileged upbringing. Her father started one of the largest beer distributorships in the country and today Cindy is the Chairman of the Board. The company is reportedly worth hundreds of millions of dollars. Cindy graduated from the University of Southern California with a teaching degree and went on to become a teacher, but meeting John McCain changed all that. They met before he was in politics at a cocktail party in Hawaii. He is 18 years older than she is.
They apparently had instant chemistry. John was separated from his first wife at the time. About a month after his divorce, Cindy and John McCain got married.
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