The Obama campaign is getting into the St. Patrick's Day spirit at an event in Monaca, Pennsylvania. (Mike Roselli/CNN)
BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) – For a few hours on Monday, the halls of Saddam Hussein's Republican Palace - the seat of his rule - looked like a scene from the U.S. Capitol.
Trademark cup of coffee in hand, Sen. John McCain of Arizona strode down the hall, then turned in to a meeting room to be joined by two legislative and political allies, Sens. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut.
A few yards away, a security detail ushered Vice President Dick Cheney, who serves as president of the Senate in his constitutional role, into another meeting.
Both the vice president and the Senate delegation were here for a firsthand look at the security and political situation in Iraq, and their agendas both included time with the U.S. commanding general as well as senior Iraqi officials.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Hillary Clinton blamed the "fiscal irresponsibility of the Bush administration" for the country's current economic turmoil and market fears after emergency moves by the Federal Reserve to cut discount rates and help back the purchase and bailout of Bear Stearns by JP Morgan Chase.
"...We are in a very dangerous period in the economy. We need vigilance and we need leadership and we've got to get it from, you know, this administration," she told reporters after an Iraq policy speech at George Washington University.
The Democratic presidential candidate said if she occupied the White House she would have started trying to avoid this economic crisis a year ago by putting a moratorium on home foreclosures and freezing the interest rates on sub-prime mortgages - topics she discusses often on the campaign trail.
"You cannot work your way out of this credit crisis unless we stabilize the home market so I certainly agree that tending to the consequences that could flow from inaction in the credit markets is essential moving quickly to try to stabilize Wall Street is essential," she said. "But let's not forget about Main Street and let's not forget about the millions of households with many millions of Americans with the consequences that has for the economy as well."
The New York senator said the high price of oil is another dangerous factor for the economy and the Bush administration needs to start urgently working towards greater energy independence. She said she would refuse to buy oil at current prices to put in the strategic petroleum reserve and would actually release oil to help ease the burden.
"I personally believe that if the president of the United States stood up today and said 'we've had it, I may have been an oil man, but we cannot continue to rely on the oil companies and the oil producing countries. I'm going to work with Congress, I'm going to take things off the shelf. I'm going to be willing to move much more rapidly toward energy independence,' you would see the price drop. I really believe that," she said.
(CNN)–Sir Elton John is set to perform a solo concert at New York’s Radio City Music Hall next month to help fundraise for Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.
“I’m not a politician but I believe in the work that Hillary Clinton does,” said John in a statement released by the Clinton campaign Monday. “I’m excited to support Hillary by performing at what will be a truly memorable night.”
The event, called “Elton and Hillary: One Night Only,” will take place April 9, and marks the superstar's first solo public concert since October 2000.
Throughout his career, John has supported many charities helping to raise millions for his AIDS foundation, breast cancer awareness and New York’s food banks. Last October John helped Clinton celebrate her 60th birthday with a star-studded fundraiser at the Beacon Theatre in New York.
Tickets for next month’s performance go on sale Wednesday starting at $125 for Mezzanine seats and $250 for Orchestra seats. With 5,933 seats available at the historic venue, a sold-out show could raise upwards of $800,000 for Clinton’s campaign.
–CNN’s Emily Sherman
(CNN) - Barack Obama's campaign on Sunday stepped up its efforts to portray rival Hillary Clinton as a secretive politician, calling the New York senator a "veteran of non-disclosure."
In a conference call with reporters Sunday afternoon, Obama's top aides implored Clinton to release past tax returns, earmark requests, documents from her husband’s Presidential Library and the list of donors to the Library.
"What is Sen. Clinton hiding and what is lurking in the documents?" Obama Communications Director Robert Gibbs asked on the conference call.
David Axelrod, the campaign's chief strategist, also repeated the campaign's past claim that the New York senator remains to be fully vetted, and suggested Republicans could unearth now unknown details about Clinton.
The Clinton campaign immediately shot back in a conference call of their own later Sunday, saying the Obama campaign is increasingly going negative, despite its message of hope.
"There has been a pattern of him launching personal attacks that we think have not been as fully publicly seen or realized, as we move month to month in this campaign," Clinton chief strategist Mark Penn said.
Clinton Communications Director Howard Wolfson also responded sharply, saying much of the Clinton tax returns over the last several years have been made public already.
"I would point out there are 20 years of the Clinton tax returns in the public record, and as far as I am aware, there is one year of Senator Obama's tax returns in the public record - 2006," he said. "I would ask the Obama campaign if he or they are prepared to release all of his taxes when he was in elected office, so far the answer to that has been no."
– CNN Ticker Producer Alexander Mooney
(CNN) - Sen. John McCain takes March Madness seriously. The presumptive Republican presidential nominee is challenging his supporters to beat his NCAA tournament picks.
His presidential campaign Web site now includes a section where you can fill out your brackets for the NCAA tournament and compare them to his.
A scoreboard keeps track of how your picks stack up against McCain’s, and prizes will be awarded to those with the top scores.
So who does the Arizona senator think will go all the way? Check back Thursday – he’s keeping his brackets a secret until after the games begin.
Last year he kept it on the safe side, picking the four No. 1 seeds – Kansas, Florida, Ohio State and North Carolina - to reach the final four, with North Carolina finishing first over Kansas.
Florida ended up winning it all, beating Ohio State 84-75.
Editor's Note: The following report contains objectionable language.
(CNN) - The Rev. Jeremiah Wright's former church sharply criticized the media Sunday for recent coverage of his past controversial sermons, saying in a statement that Wright's "character is being assassinated in the public sphere."
The statement comes two days after Barack Obama, a longtime friend of Wright and attendee of the Trinity United Church of Christ, formally denounced the sermons that have recently become the subject of controversy, calling them "inflammatory and appalling."
"It is an indictment on Dr. Wright’s ministerial legacy to present his global ministry within a 15- or 30-second sound bite,” the Rev. Otis Moss III, the current pastor of the church said in the statement.
“The African American Church was born out of the crucible of slavery and the legacy of prophetic African American preachers since slavery has been and continues to heal broken marginalized victims of social and economic injustices," Moss also said. "This is an attack on the legacy of the African American Church which led and continues to lead the fight for human rights in America and around the world.”
In the same statement, the Rev. John H. Thomas, the general minister and president of the United Church of Christ - the denomination to which Wright's church belongs - said the media was creating a "caricature" of his congregation.
“It’s time for us to say ‘No’ to these attacks and declare that we will not allow anyone to undermine or destroy the ministries of any of our congregations in order to serve their own narrow political or ideological ends," Thomas said.
The sermons in question became the subject of scrutiny earlier this week after being highlighted in an ABC News report.
At one December service, Wright argued Clinton's road to the White House is considerably easier than Obama's because of his skin color.
"Hillary was not a black boy raised in a single parent home. Barack was," Wright says in a video of the sermon posted on YouTube. "Barack knows what it means to be a black man living in a country and a culture that is controlled by rich white people. Hillary! Hillary ain't never been called a 'nigger!' Hillary has never had her people defined as a non-person."
Wright, who retired from his post earlier this year, also says in the video, "Who cares about what a poor black man has to face every day in a country and in a culture controlled by rich white people?"
In his formal denunciation of those sermons Friday, Obama defended his 20-year relationship with Wright, saying that the pastor has served him in a spiritual role - not a political one.
Related: The Washington Post's Jonathan Capehart discusses Obama's ties to Rev. Wright
– CNN's Steve Brusk and Alex Mooney contributed to this report
BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) - Vice President Dick Cheney arrived in Baghdad on Monday on an unannounced visit, the Iraqi prime minister's office said.
Cheney plans to meet with Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, the prime minister's office said. Cheney also plans to meet with Gen. David Petraeus, the top U.S. commander in Iraq and U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker, aides said.
Also on the vice president's schedule are Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and President Jalal Talabani, as well as Iraq's vice presidents and other key political leaders.
Cheney began a trip to the Middle East on Sunday with an official itinerary that listed stops in Oman, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Israel and the West Bank, according to the White House.
Related: Watch Vice President Cheney's remarks from Baghdad
Compiled by Jonathan Helman
CNN Washington Bureau
Washington Post: White Male Vote Especially Critical
In the fierce campaign between Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama, a battle dominated by questions of race and gender, white men have emerged as perhaps the single critical swing constituency.
Boston Globe: Many Voting For Clinton To Boost GOP
For a party that loves to hate the Clintons, Republican voters have cast an awful lot of ballots lately for Senator Hillary Clinton: About 100,000 GOP loyalists voted for her in Ohio, 119,000 in Texas, and about 38,000 in Mississippi, exit polls show. A sudden change of heart? Hardly.
Washington Post: McCain Arrives in Iraq, Plans to Meet Maliki
Sen. John McCain visited Iraq on Sunday as part of a congressional delegation on an international tour, a chance for the likely Republican presidential nominee to emphasize his support of the U.S. military effort in Iraq and his foreign policy experience.
AP: Iran Big Focus Of Cheney's Mideast Trip
High gasoline prices and prospects for an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal headline Vice President Dick Cheney's trip to the Mideast, but fears about Iran's rising influence will be a key topic of his private talks at each stop.
Compiled by Jonathan Helman, CNN Washington Bureau
*Hillary Clinton delivers a major policy address on the war in Iraq in Washington, DC.
*John McCain is traveling overseas.
*Barack Obama holds a town hall meeting in Monaca, Pennsylvania and attends a dinner by the Society of Irish Women in Scranton, Pennsylvania.