WASHINGTON (CNN) - After tapes of inflammatory statements made by Sen. Barack Obama's pastor came out last weekend, it appears to have had some negative impact on the Illinois senator.
Nationally, Obama's lead over Sen. Hillary Clinton narrowed in a poll of polls - which included CBS News, USA Today and Gallup.
The polls, taken between March 14-18, show Obama with 49 percent to Clinton's 43 percent.
"I don't think there is any doubt that the [Rev.] Jeremiah Wright controversy played a role in the 10-point drop in his favorable ratings," said pollster Terry Madonna.
–CNN Senior Political Analyst Bill Schneider
(CNN) - Bill Richardson criticized a Clinton campaign adviser Friday for suggesting his endorsement of Barack Obama is insignificant.
"I resent the fact that the Clinton people are now saying that my endorsement is too late because I only can help with Texans - with Texas and Hispanics, implying that that's my only value," the New Mexico governor told CNN's John King.
"That's typical of some of his advisers that kind of turned me off."Earlier Friday, Clinton campaign senior strategist Mark Penn said he thought Richardson's endorsement came too late to make an impact.
“The time that he could have been effective has long since passed," Penn told reporters on a conference call. "I don’t think it is a significant endorsement in this environment.”
In the interview Friday, Richardson also said he called Hillary Clinton Thursday to inform her of his decision to back Obama, a conversation he described as "painful."
"It was painful and it wasn't easy," he said. "I've spoken to others who have had that same conversation and they say at the end, it’s not all that pleasant.
"The former Democratic presidential candidate declined to elaborate further on his conversation with Clinton.Last month, Chris Dodd - another former presidential candidate who decided to endorse Obama last month - said he had a "not comfortable" conversation with Clinton informing her of the news.
Also in the interview Friday, Richardson said he ultimately decided to back Obama because the Illinois senator has "something special."
"I think that Sen. Obama has something special,” explained Richardson. “Something that can bring internationally America’s prestige back, that can deal with the race issue as he did so eloquently last week, that can deal with the domestic issues in a bipartisan way."
Richardson, who held posts as the Secretary of Energy and the U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. in President Clinton’s administration, also said he "owes a lot to the Clinton family but I served well. I paid it back in service to the country."
Related video: Richardson on Obama endorsement
Updated 7:22 p.m. to add link to interview video
- CNN's Martina Stewart and Alex Mooney
(CNN) - The Obama campaign launched some of its sharpest attacks to date on Hillary Clinton's candidacy Friday, telling reporters on a conference call that the New York senator is a dishonest politician who has consistently misled voters.
Referencing a new Gallup Poll suggesting 53 percent of Americans don't view Clinton as trustworthy, Obama campaign manager David Plouffe said Clinton would be a "deeply flawed nominee," and suggested it would be "nearly impossible" for her to win a general election.
"She is not seen as trustworthy by the American people," Plouffe said. "She has consistently in this campaign engaged in political calculation to mislead voters....It will nearly be impossible to win a general election if more than half the electorate thinks you're untrustworthy.
"If Sen. Clinton wants to have a discussion about electability and vetting, we're happy to have it," Plouffe also said. "She would be a deeply flawed nominee. There are character issues here that will cause us real problems in the fall."
Plouffe specifically took issue with newly-released Clinton White House schedules that indicate the then-first lady may have been present in several meetings with congressional leaders to promote NAFTA - the trade legislation she now sharply criticizes on the campaign trail. She emphasized her consistency on that position in the days leading up to the March 4 primary contest in Ohio, a state whose Democratic electorate is dominated by union-workers generally opposed to the trade deal."
Sen. Clinton essentially misled the voters of Ohio, strongly suggesting she was always opposed to NAFTA privately," Plouffe said. "But now we see that she had meetings, where the sole purpose was to cheerlead for NAFTA and press for its support."
"Sen. Clinton likes to talk about do-over elections," he added. "The only do-over election we might want to consider is in Ohio, since Sen. Clinton misled the voters in Ohio about her support of NAFTA."
In a memo sent to reporters shortly after Plouffe's comments, Clinton spokesman Phil Singer said, "At this point, it’s no secret that the Obama campaign is in political hot water given the news stories of the last few weeks and is desperate to change the subject."
- CNN Ticker Producer Alexander Mooney
(CNN) - Sen. Barack Obama Friday called for an investigation into how the security of the passport files of the three remaining presidential candidates was breached.
The State Department admitted Friday that the passport files of Obama, Sen. Hillary Clinton and Sen. John McCain had been accessed without authorization.
"One of the things that the American people count on in their interactions with any level of government is that if they have to disclose personal information that it stay personal and stay private," Obama said in Portland, Oregon.
"And when you have not just one but a series of attempts to tap into people's personal records, that's a problem not just for me, but for how our government is functioning," he said.
Obama said he expected "a full and thorough investigation" by the administration done in conjunction with congressional oversight committees.
The State Department's inspector general has already started an investigation, department officials said.
Attorney General Michael Mukasey said the Justice Department had not launched an investigation and did not expect to unless it was asked by the inspector general.
It could be the beginning of the end for Hillary Clinton.
Bill Richardson's endorsement of Barack Obama today is huge. Richardson, after all, served under President Bill Clinton as ambassador to the U.N. and secretary of the Energy Department. He's also a friend of the Clintons who watched the Super Bowl together with the former president last month.
So it couldn't be easy for Hillary Clinton when Richardson – whom both candidates had lobbied hard for an endorsement – came out today and called Obama a "once-in-a-lifetime-leader." Richardson said the speech Obama gave on race "appealed to the best in us."
The New Mexico governor and former presidential candidate's endorsement carries a lot of weight.
To read more and contribute to the Cafferty File discussion click here
(CNN) - At the tail end of a week spent addressing the thorny issue of race in America, Barack Obama is responding to fresh criticism for using the words “typical white person” in reference to his grandmother during a radio interview.
Thursday night, Obama told CNN’s Larry King that “what I meant really was that some of the fears of street crime and some of the stereotypes that go along with that, you know, were responses that I think many people feel. She's not extraordinary in that regard. She's somebody who I love as much as anybody. I mean, she has literally helped to raise me. …
“And so the point I made is that good people, people who are not in any way racist, are still subject to some of these images and stereotypes and that it's very hard to escape from them,’’ Obama said.
Obama, who mentioned his grandmother during a speech on race he delivered in Philadelphia Tuesday, had told the hosts of a sports radio show in that city that his grandmother was not a racist, “…but she is a typical white person who, you know, if she sees somebody on the street that she doesn’t know, there is a reaction that has been bred into our experiences that don’t go away and sometimes come out in the wrong way…”
He added that that was the “nature of race in our society, and we have to break through it,” saying that he saw each generation “feeling a little less like that.”
Conservative critics immediately reacted, saying his use of the phrase “typical white person” was a racist characterization.
When King asked if the comment might hurt his campaign, Obama responded: “I think that my campaign has always been built on a confidence in the American people, that we can talk honestly about issues, that we can acknowledge that they're complicated, that we can disagree without being disagreeable…”
Race has come to the forefront in the Democratic race recently, with comments by Clinton supporter Geraldine Ferraro that Obama would not be a major presidential candidate if he were white, and a new focus on the controversial remarks about 9/11 and other issues by the Illinois senator’s former minister, Rev. Jeremiah Wright.
Watch Obama explain his comments on Larry King Live here.
Watch Bill Richardson endorse Obama. (AP Photo)
(CNN) - Gov. Bill Richardson of New Mexico endorsed Sen. Barack Obama in the Democratic race for president Friday.
"Barack Obama will make a great and historic president," Richardson told a rally in Portland, Oregon, with Obama standing at his side.
Richardson said Obama's recent speech on race in America, saying he "understands clearly that only by bringing people together, only by bridging our differences can we all succeed together as Americans."
"He appealed to the best in us ... as a Hispanic American I was particularly touched by his words," Richardson added.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - An individual disciplined for improperly accessing Sen. Barack Obama's passport files also viewed Sen. John McCain's passport file in 2008 without authorization, State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said Friday.
Full story: Presidential candidates' passport files breached
ATLANTA, Georgia (CNN) - A federal appeals court Friday threw out a Florida man's suit over the Democratic National Committee's decision to bar Florida delegates from the party's national convention, saying he had no standing to file suit.
The ruling by the 11th U.S. Court of Appeals affirms a lower court order that found that Victor DiMaio, a Florida resident who sued the Democratic National Committee and the Florida Democratic Party, "undeniably lacks standing to bring this suit ..."
DiMaio claimed that the DNC announced refusal to seat Florida's Democratic delegation because the Florida party violated DNC rules on scheduling its primary violated his constitutional right to equal protection under the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
The Middle District Court of Florida ruled that DiMaio could not file suit under federal rules because his "complaint does not assert any actual or real controversy with the DNC or the FDP." The appeals court agreed.
The DNC said it was pleased with the ruling because it affirmed previous decision that "national political parties have a constitutionally protected right to manage and conduct their own internal affairs, including the enforcement of delegate selection rules."
The suit stemmed from the DNC's decision to strip Florida of its convention delegates because the date of the Florida primary was moved up without party approval.