(CNN) - It was a full house on Capitol Hill Thursday with the return of Sens. Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and John McCain to Washington, D.C. Dana Bash reports on what the three presidential hopefuls were doing back on the Senate floor.
Can Sen. Clinton repair her image with the African-American community after controversial comments by Geraldine Ferraro and former president Bill Clinton have offended some African-Americans? Suzanne Malveaux reports on what Clinton is doing to try to make amends.
While McCain was back on Capitol Hill, his former rival Rudy Giuliani was out on the trail stumping on McCain's behalf. Mary Snow was with Giuliani and reports on the former New York City Mayor's efforts to help McCain.
Finally, the Florida Democratic Party has come up with a plan to re-do its presidential primary and ultimately have its delegation seated at the Democratic Party's nominating convention. John Zarella reports on the Florida Democrats' plan and how some Democrats are reacting to it.
Click here to subscribe to CNN=Politics Daily.
–CNN Associate Producer Martina Stewart
WASHINGTON (CNN) - The House of Representatives agreed to go into a closed session Thursday night for the first time since 1983 to debate revisions to federal surveillance laws.
The session is not expected to take place until late Thursday, since police need to conduct a security sweep of the chamber before debate can begin.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Matt Damon and Ben Affleck are teaming up for a new project, but this one probably won't lead to an Oscar.
The two actors are part of a new effort from MoveOn.org to create a television ad in support of Barack Obama's bid for the White House. The liberal group, which endorsed the Illinois senator last month, is asking its 3.2 million members to create a 30 second campaign commercial that "shows what inspires them about the senator's candidacy."
Damon and Affleck, along with film director Oliver Stone and singer John Legend, are among the panel of judges.
"After eight years of President Bush campaigning on fear and war, people are feeling hopeful again. They're eager to talk about what inspires them about our country - and Senator Obama leading it,” Eli Pariser, Executive Director of MoveOn said. “Since creative and grassroots energy has helped power Barack Obama’s campaign from the start, this contest is a great way to deliver that message of hope to voters in Pennsylvania and across the nation.”
In a statement, Affleck said the competition is "a chance for everyone, from aspiring filmmakers to armchair pundits, to raise their voices to put Obama over the top."
MoveOn says it will announce the winner before the crucial Pennsylvania primary which takes place early in April. It says the winning ad will air on national television but has not yet decided when. The winner will also win a gift certificate for $20,000 in video equipment.
The group held a similar competition in 2004, asking members then to create a "Bush in 30 Seconds" campaign ad. The organization received 1,500 entries in that contest.
Speaking to reporters on Capitol Hill, the House Speaker reiterated comments she made earlier in the week that the two presidential candidates will not end up sharing a ticket.
"I do think we will have a dream team, it just won't be those two names," She said. "Whoever our nominee is and whoever he or she is and whoever he or she chooses, will be a dream team as the Democrats go forward.”
When pressed further about the possibility of a joint ticket, Pelosi stated flatly, "Take it from me, that won't be the ticket."
The comments echoed remarks the Speaker made Tuesday, when she emphatically told a Boston television station that a joint ticket with Clinton and Obama is "impossible."
"I think that ticket either way is impossible," she said. "I think that the Clinton administration has fairly ruled that out by proclaiming that Senator McCain would be a better commander-in-Chief than Obama."
Pelosi’s remarks came a day after Obama mocked Clinton and her campaign surrogates for raising the implication he would make a good vice president.
"With all due respect, I won twice as many states as Sen. Clinton. I've won more of the popular vote than Sen. Clinton. I have more delegates than Sen. Clinton. So, I don't know how somebody who's in second place is offering vice presidency to the person who's in first place," he said at a campaign event in Mississippi.
– CNN Ticker Producer Alexander Mooney
TALLAHASSEE, Florida (CNN) - Florida's Democrats in Congress rejected Thursday a plan for a combined mail-in and in-person primary election to let the state regain its 210 national convention delegates.
The plan, floated earlier by state party officials, would have set the combination vote for June 3 in an effort to replace delegates lost when Florida moved its primary ahead of the approved time frame.
"After reviewing the party's proposal and individually discussing this idea with state and local leaders and elections experts, we do not believe that this is a realistic option at this time and remain opposed to a mail-in ballot election or any new primary election in Florida of any kind," read a statement released Thursday afternoon by the states Democratic congressional delegation.
Under the state party's plan, fund-raising and public comment would begin immediately.
"The plan would be inclusive of all Democratic voters," according to a memo accompanying the draft plan that was sent Wednesday night to party leaders, including Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean and Sens. Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, the party's candidates for the presidential nomination.
Any plan would need the blessings of the DNC and the Clinton and Obama campaigns.
"We really believe that all Floridians deserve to be heard," said state party Chairwoman Karen Thurman, but "if this is not what the people of Florida and our presidential candidates want, then we're not going to do it."
Bill Clinton was once famously dubbed America's "first black president” and both Clintons have enjoyed tremendous popularity among African-Americans. That is, perhaps until now.
Last night, Hillary Clinton found herself apologizing to black voters. She said she was sorry for her husband's comments after the South Carolina primary, which Barack Obama won. At the time, Bill Clinton said Jesse Jackson had also won the state when he ran for president – a comment seen as belittling Barack Obama's victory. Hillary Clinton said she was sorry if anyone was offended and claims that's not how it was meant.
To read more and contribute to the Cafferty File discussion click here
(CNN) – Five years ago today, I was on the way to Kuwait. We were getting ready to cover a war.
It was rather eerie being on the last scheduled commercial flight from London to Kuwait City. British Airways and the other jetliners were shutting down their air routes to Kuwait. Everyone knew a war was imminent.
By the time I got to Kuwait City, the U.S. already had about 150,000 troops in northern Kuwait ready to invade. I drove up to the north to see some of those troops. They were all prepared for chemical warfare. They assumed that Saddam Hussein’s troops would use chemical and maybe even biological weapons. They were ready.
Like other journalists cover the impending war, I, too, had my gas mask and other WMD protective gear. I had reported on wars over the years but I remember worrying about this one. I had no idea what to expect.
Now, we are on the verge of five years of U.S. warfare in Iraq. If someone had told me back in March 2003 that the U.S. would still have about 150,000 troops in Iraq in March 2008, I would have thought they were crazy. The first Gulf War which I covered in January and February 1991 ended within weeks with the liberation of Kuwait.
It was a dazzling military success – the result of overwhelming military force. The U.S.had deployed more than 500,000 troops to the region to get the job done. That was my frame of reference.
This war in Iraq has turned out very differently.
– CNN Anchor Wolf Blitzer
(CNN) – Sen. Robert Byrd made a surprise visit back to the Senate Thursday, a month after the 90-year-old Democrat fell in his West Virginia home.
Byrd was greeted warmly by many of his Senate colleagues and used a wheelchair and a walker to move around.
Byrd is Senate president pro tempore, a position that makes him third in line for the presidency, behind Vice President Dick Cheney and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
(CNN) - Barack Obama released his entire earmark requests since becoming a U.S. senator Monday, after months of declining to do so.
The disclosure was made the same day all the presidential candidates returned to the Senate to vote on a bill calling for a one-year moratorium on all federal earmarks. (View his earmark requests)
The Obama campaign - which had previously released the senator's 2007 earmark requests but not those from 2005 and 2006 - also called on rival Hillary Clinton to do the same.
"Bringing real change requires changing the way we do business in Washington,” Obama Communications Director Robert Gibbs said. “If Senator Clinton will not agree to join Senator Obama in releasing her earmark requests, voters should ask why she doesn’t believe they have the right to know she wants to spend their tax dollars.”
The Clinton campaign was asked about earmarks on a press call Thursday afternoon before Obama released his requests. The campaign deferred questioning to Clinton's Senate office. CNN is awaiting a response.
Clinton and Obama announced this week they favor the one year moratorium, despite their own use of earmarks. The bill is not expected to pass.
– CNN Ticker Producer Alexander Mooney
Speaking with reporters on his campaign plane, Obama noted the Arizona senator was a onetime opponent to the tax cuts, and said he has since reversed his position for political reasons.
"That was how, I guess, you got your ticket punched to be the Republican nominee," he said. "But he was right then, and he's wrong now."
McCain has said he supports the tax cuts now because of the economic slowdown and the stimulus potential they offer.
Obama also said he is against the tax cuts because they are an example of a "flawed fiscal policy."
"The notion that we would pile up more mounds of debt, literally borrowing hundreds of billions of dollars to pay for tax breaks for people who don't need them and weren't even asking for them I think is unfortunate," he said. "And I think it's an example of the kinds of flawed fiscal policies that have gotten us in such a hole under this administration and a republican congress."
UPDATE: Responding to Obama's remarks, McCain said later Thursday "it’s very clear that I voted to make those tax cuts permanent on several times."
"Senator Obama has stated very clearly his desire to increase Americans’ taxes," he added. "That will be one of the great debates we have if he is the nominee of his party. He wants to raise Americans’ taxes and put more of their money into the hands of the government. I want to keep it in the wallets and purses of the American people."
– CNN's Chris Welch contributed to this report