(CNN) - The State Department has confirmed a breach on Sen. Barack Obama's passport file, his campaign told CNN.
"This is an outrageous breach of security and privacy, even from an administration that has shown little regard for either over the last eight years," said Obama campaign spokesman Bill Burton in a statement. "Our government's duty is to protect the private information of the American people, not use it for political purposes."
The campaign called for "a complete investigation" to find out who looked at Obama's passport file and why.
Updated 8:38 p.m. with statement from the Obama campaign
(CNN) - The McCain campaign suspended a staff member Thursday afternoon for distributing a YouTube video that questions Barack Obama's patriotism and includes footage from the Rev. Jeremiah Wright's controversial sermons.
“We have been very clear on the type of campaign we intend to run and this staffer acted in violation of our policy. He has been reprimanded by campaign leadership and suspended from the campaign,” McCain campaign spokeswoman Jill Hazelbaker said.
The suspended staffer, Soren Dayton, works in the campaign's political department and distributed the YouTube video via the internet application Twitter earlier Thursday.
A campaign aide insists Soren Dayton was a low level staffer and who had “no role in the communications shop.”
McCain insists repeatedly that he will not engage in personal attacks on Democrats, and CNN was told last week that campaign aides are working on an op-ed to be published in the senator's name warning his surrogates and supporters not to do so.
- CNN's Dana Bash
The U.S. needs independent leadership and maybe even a new political party.
Senator Chuck Hagel, the Nebraska Republican and one of the very few class acts in Washington, has a new book out, "America: Our Next Chapter." Hagel writes, "In the current impasse, an independent candidate for the presidency, or a bipartisan unity ticket... could be appealing to Americans."
Hagel, who is a Vietnam veteran, also suggests that the war in Iraq might be remembered as one of the five biggest blunders in all of history. He says that the invasion 5 years ago was "the triumph of the so-called neoconservative ideology, as well as Bush administration arrogance and incompetence."
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(CNN) - It’s too bad that Michigan and Florida don’t seem to be able to get their acts together to have Democratic presidential primary re-votes in early June.
For those of us who cover politics, it would have been very exciting to see two more fiercely fought primaries in two critically important states.
But more importantly, it will be a pity for all those millions of Democratic voters in those states if their delegates wind up having no say in the selection of their party’s presidential nominee at the party convention in Denver at the end of the summer. And the ramifications for the party from that could be very significant in November.
The Democrats in Michigan and Florida lost their delegates because they moved up their primaries to January against Democratic Party rules.
Some of those frustrated Democratic voters will walk away from this process with an awful taste in their mouths. And it’s possible that could convince some of them to actually vote for John McCain or Ralph Nader in the fall or simply stay home and not vote at all. At least, that’s what some of those voters are telling reporters and pollsters now.
There is still time for the Democratic National Committee and the presidential campaigns to work out some other compromise that allows the delegates to be seated without having make-over primaries. Indeed, I still suspect something along these lines will occur.
But I still don’t understand why it became so complicated to organize these make-over primaries. The actual ballot would have been rather simple – you could vote for Clinton or Obama. Put an X in front of your candidate. How difficult is that?
- Wolf Blitzer
(CNN) - With just days until the voter registration deadline arrives in Pennsylvania, voters are frantically registering and changing their party affiliations in order to vote in the state’s closed Democratic primary.
Pennsylvania, with 158 “pledged” delegates at stake, offers the largest bounty remaining to both Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. It is expected to play a large role in deciding the Democratic party’s presidential nominee.
Barack Obama’s campaign has made voter registration their top priority in Pennsylvania for the past several weeks, sending teams of volunteers from across the country to register new Democrats in the commonwealth in advance of the March 24 deadline. “We need your help registering voters this weekend!” read a message on Barack Obama’s Web site, urging volunteers to spend the weekend convincing unregistered voters, Republicans and Independents to become newly-minted Democrats.
Between February 11 and March 17, Philadelphia County saw a 1.7 percent increase in Democratic Party registrations while all other parties – including the Republican Party – saw a 1.3 percent decrease in party registrations, according to Robert Lee, Voter Registration Administrator for Philadelphia County.
Since 2004, Democratic registration has increased by roughly 5 percent in the county - while Republican registration has decreased by more than 12 percent.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - As the uproar has unfolded over Barack Obama's former pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, the Clinton campaign has remained tight-lipped on the issue.
Top advisors to the campaign and Clinton herself have repeatedly refused to comment on the controversy, even as polls indicate the issue may be hurting the Illinois senator politically.
But Lanny Davis, a former special counsel to President Clinton and prominent surrogate of the New York senator, tackles the issue head on in a posting published Wednesday afternoon on the liberal Web site Huffington Post.
In the brief posting, Davis calls Obama's speech on the issue Tuesday "brilliant," but he says the Illinois senator has yet to answer two questions on the controversy that presumptive Republican nominee John McCain "will insist be answered in the fall."
1. If a white minister preached sermons to his congregation and had used the "N" word and used rhetoric and words similar to members of the KKK, would you support a Democratic presidential candidate who decided to continue to be a member of that congregation?
2. Would you support that candidate if, after knowing of or hearing those sermons, he or she still appointed that minister to serve on his or her "Religious Advisory Committee" of his or her presidential campaign?
Davis, who often appears on CNN to promote Clinton's candidacy, also says he hopes his message "gets to someone in the Obama campaign - or to a reporter traveling with the Senator - who can persuade Senator Obama to answer them directly."
- CNN Ticker Producer Alexander Mooney
(CNN) - Michigan's State Senate adjourned Thursday without reaching an agreement to schedule a new Democratic primary on June 3.
The Legislature is now on recess for two weeks, and by the time lawmakers return, it will likely be too late to approve and organize a new vote.
Sens. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama also would have to sign off on the plan.
Obama's camp had expressed concern with the proposal, and Clinton blamed him for holding up the revote.
Michigan and Florida held primaries in January, but the Democratic National Committee stripped them of their delegates for scheduling their contests too early.
TERRE HAUTE, Indiana (CNN) - Hillary Clinton once again blasted Barack Obama over his reluctance to approve a primary re-vote in Michigan, asking reporters at a press conference Thursday why Obama is “afraid” of agreeing to a new contest there.
“I have, as the Democratic National Committee has, come out in favor of any effort to re-vote in Michigan,” she said. “I do not understand what senator Obama is afraid of.”
Clinton was asked if she is now pressing for new primaries in Florida and Michigan only because she is losing in the chase for pledged delegates.
“I would be in favor of fixing this problem no matter what my position,” she argued. “I have been consistently in favor of it. Remember I’m the one who kept my name on the ballot. I had no idea what the outcome would be.”
As she did in Detroit on Wednesday, Clinton predicted that leaving out voters from Michigan and Florida could put those states in Republican hands come November.
She also said winning the Democratic nomination without the voices of Michigan and Florida would raise “serious questions about legitimacy of that nominee.”
“The people of Michigan and their legislature made it very clear that they would proceed with a revote. Unfortunately, Sen. Obama’s campaign said no. Two out of three of us said yes. You’ll have to ask him what he’s afraid of.”
- CNN Political Producer Peter Hamby
(CNN) – A day after the fifth anniversary of the start of the Iraq war and with Americans increasingly worried about their economic security, Sen. Barack Obama said Thursday that the Bush administration had misled the public about the economic costs of waging a military campaign in Iraq.
“What no one disputes is that the cost of this war is far higher than what we were told it would be,” said Obama. “We were told this war would cost $50 to 60 billion and that reconstruction would pay for itself out of Iraqi profits. We were told higher estimates were nothing but baloney. Like so much else about this war, we were not told the truth,” he added.
The conflict in Iraq has cost $608 billion according to a House Budget Committee report but some estimates put the long term costs of the war at $3 trillion.
Noting that the Bush administration has given wartime tax cuts to wealthy Americans which McCain once opposed but now supports, Obama said “No matter what the costs, no matter what the consequences, John McCain seems determined to carry out a third Bush term.” “That is an outcome American can’t afford,” Obama added.
As for Sen. Clinton, Obama noted a recent Clinton attack on McCain for supporting policies that have led to the country’s war costs. “Her point would have been more compelling had she not joined Sen. McCain in making the tragically ill-considered decision to vote for the Iraq war in the first place,” said Obama.
The McCain campaign called Obama “fundamentally wrong” on the economy and national security in a statement issued in response to Obama’s remarks. “On the economy, Senator Obama offers the tired tax and spend ideas of the past,” the statement said. “On national security, Sen. Obama would rather rehash the past than look forward with resolve to address fundamental challenges and opportunities we have today to secure our future,” the McCain campaign added.
In a recent CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll, 7 in 10 Americans said they thought the government’s spending on the Iraq war was responsible for the country’s troubled economy. Recent polling also shows that a majority of Americans believe the country is in a recession and that the economy is the number one issue for the pubic by a 2-to-1 margin over the Iraq war which ranks as the second most important issue.
McCain was recently in the Middle East with other members of the Senate Armed Services Committee. Sen. Clinton gave a speech Wednesday that emphasized her plan to withdraw U.S. troops from Iraq if she wins the White House.
Related: War costs weigh on Bush legacy
–CNN Associate Producer Martina Stewart
Clinton and Indiana Sen. Evan Bayh. (AP Photo)
TERRE HAUTE, Indiana (CNN) – Hillary Clinton spent Thursday stumping in Indiana, as her campaign looks ahead to states that vote after Pennsylvania’s April 22 primary.
"We see Indiana as a very competitive state," said Clinton spokesman Doug Hattaway. "Like Ohio and Pennsylvania, the economy is the top issue we see. We feel like voters are in a place where they do see her as the candidate who can turn it around."
Indiana borders Barack Obama's home state of Illinois. Despite that advantage, the Clinton campaign is confident that Hoosier voters see the New York senator as best-equipped to handle the economy, as primary voters did in Ohio on March 4, according to exit polls.
Hattaway said Indiana had lost 9,000 manufacturing jobs in the last year and ranks tenth in the nation in home foreclosures.
He added that along with Pennsylvania, the campaign also sees upcoming states like West Virginia (May 13) and Kentucky (May 20) as places where Clinton will run strong due to economic concerns.
Clinton – who campaigned Thursday with backer Indiana Sen. Evan Bayh - chose a convenient day to get her message out, 24 hours before the Indiana Hoosiers basketball team kicks off their NCAA tournament bid against Arkansas.
The campaign wasted little time getting into the nitty-gritty, low-key policy pitch that has come to define Clinton's campaign style: her first stop was held in a cramped diner in Terre Haute, where she held a roundtable with locals, discussing health care, education, the war in Iraq and gas prices.
Bayh introduced his candidate at the diner, telling the audience to "join me in giving a warm Hoosier welcome to the next president of the United States."
"This is the first time in 40 years that Indiana has had a meaningful presidential primary, and all I can say is it’s about time," Bayh said.
At a press conference after the roundtable, Bayh praised Clinton but was careful to note Obama’s built-in upper hand in the state.
“Sen. Obama is going to have some advantages in our state,” he said. “Twenty percent of our citizens watch Chicago TV. He is probably going to outspend Sen. Clinton, I don’t know, two, three, four to one. But this is a place where results and substance matters.”
- CNN Political Producer Peter Hamby