(CNN) - John McCain’s campaign said an apology from Barack Obama’s team for comments from West Virginia Sen. Jay Rockefeller, who supports the Illinois senator’s presidential bid, were not enough, calling for a response from the candidate himself.
“It was a spokesperson. Just as with the situation with liberal attack artist Ed Schultz, Obama refused to reject the statements personally. It’s a trend that undermines Barack Obama’s credibility when he makes calls for a ‘new’ more ‘accountable’ debate,” said McCain spokesman Tucker Bounds.
The Obama campaign and Rockefeller both apologized Tuesday afternoon for his comments about the presumptive Republican nominee’s war record in a West Virginia paper.
“Senator Obama has a deep respect for Senator McCain’s service to this country and doesn’t agree with what Senator Rockefeller said,” said Obama spokeswoman Jen Psaki.
Rockefeller’s Senate office released a statement by the senator that said he regretted the comment. “I have deep respect for John McCain’s honorable and noble service to our country. I made an inaccurate and wrong analogy and I have extended my sincere apology to him.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - For the first time, White House spokeswoman Dana Perino Tuesday left the door open to President Bush skipping the opening ceremonies of the Olympics in Beijing to protest China's crackdown in Tibet and human rights record.
Asked by CNN at an on-camera briefing if Bush will specifically attend the opening ceremonies in Beijing, Perino would not be definitive. "We haven't provided any schedules on the president's trip," she said.
Pressed on whether Bush's decision to attend the Olympics is "irreversible" or could be affected by developments, Perino hedged. "Any time the president - the president can always make a change," she said. "But the President has been clear that this is a sporting event for the athletes and that pressuring China before, during and after the Olympics is the best way for us to try to help people across the board in China, not just Tibetans."
What the president has not been clear on is whether or not he will attend the opening ceremonies, which are typically a major showcase for the host country. Bush has only said he will attend the Olympics in general, stressing he's a sports fan who wants to support U.S. athletes at the games.
(CNN) - The top Democrat charged with helping his party maintain control of the House in 2008 warned Tuesday congressional candidates could suffer if the Democratic presidential race turns overly negative.
Speaking at a press briefing with reporters, Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Chris Van Hollen predicted the Democrats will pick up House seats in November, but said the ongoing contest between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama remains a "variable."
"We've seen the energy and excitement in the early Democratic primaries, and the only thing that could hurt or cut back on that is if the Democratic primary gets so divisive that it's difficult to patch it up and heal the wounds in time to be together in November," said Van Hollen, who has not endorsed either candidate.
"We need to make sure that both candidates stay positive so you don't leave lasting wounds that will depress in anyway that kind of energy and enthusiasm," he added. "I don't think we are at that point. I do think there is a danger of reaching that point."
At the same briefing, Clinton backer and Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee Chairman Chuck Schumer sounded a less dire tone, saying the hotly-contested race will benefit the party come November.
“Each is getting to refine their message and battle test their campaigns in this primary," he said. "I don't think any damaging blows have been landed by one or the other, and damaging to the general election, and I think both are very strong candidates."
FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:
Coming to a theater before he leaves office: "W”, Oliver Stone's upcoming movie about President Bush.
A draft of the script describes our president as, quote "a foul-mouthed, reformed drunk who is obsessed with baseball."
"The Hollywood Reporter" sent a draft of the screenplay to four biographers of the president to see how accurate they thought it was. Reactions were mixed; they say specific scenes are largely based in fact, but the screenplay shows inaccurate and over-the-top caricatures of President Bush and his inner circle.
One biographer says it "really misses the mark" of how the White House is run, leaving the impression that it's similar to a fraternity house, with everyone using nicknames and casually chatting about going to war. Another biographer was skeptical about Stone's claim that he wants to make a "fair, true portrait" of the president... saying that's "like Donald Trump saying he is going to be modest." Also, several of the experts say the script inaccurately depicts the president as being manipulated by White House staff when it comes to policy decisions.
To read more and contribute to the Cafferty File discussion click here
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin says he accomplished what many would consider a tall task: Keeping presidential politics to a minimum during today’s hearings on the Iraq War.
General David Petraeus, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, and Ryan Crocker, the U.S. ambassador to Iraq were the crucial witnesses in today’s hearing. But with the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, Senator John McCain of Arizona, and one of the two remaining Democratic presidential candidates, Senator Hillary Clinton of New York in attendance, it was hard to avoid the specter of the campaign trail.
Levin, commenting on the hearings after they concluded, said “the tone of it was right and I saw a minimum amount of presidential politics. I know that there is an understandable focus because Senators Clinton and McCain were there. But I thought that people went really to the substance and avoided politicizing this hearing in any way and I hope that’s the way it appeared to the public because that’s clearly what we intended.”
Petraeus and Crocker are now testifying in front of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, home of another of the White House hopefuls, Senator Barack Obama of Illinois.
Related: Watch Jamie McIyntre's fact check on the hearing
(CNN) - As the Senate holds major hearings on the war in Iraq, a set of dueling petitions – both featuring presumptive Republican nominee John McCain – are circulating online.
Shortly after his appearance at the Armed Services Committee hearing attended by Gen. David Petraeus and U.S. ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker, McCain sent supporters a fundraising appeal that asked them to sign their names to a petition “calling on Senators Clinton and Obama to support our troops on the ground and the mission they are carrying out.”
In the message, McCain said the Democratic candidates “will surely echo the sentiments of their extreme liberal supporters and call for a pre-emptive withdrawal from Iraq. The American people deserve better.
“I encourage both candidates to move beyond empty and destructive rhetoric and elevate the debate to a level that the country deserves. There are tough decisions ahead and America deserves leaders that are up to the challenge.”
Last week, former Army General Wesley Clark’s political action committee, WesPAC, and the anti-Iraq war group VoteVets launched a petition drive urging McCain to pledge his support to a new Iraq veterans benefits bill co-sponsored by Virginia Sen. Jim Webb and Nebraska Sen. Chuck Hagel.
(CNN) - Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice dismissed rumors on Tuesday she is angling to be John McCain's running mate, telling reporters she plans to head back to Stanford University.
"I very much look forward to watching this campaign and voting as a voter," she said. "I have a lot of work to do and then I'll happily go back to Stanford."
Rice served as Provost at Stanford from 1993-1999, and remains a tenured professor there.
"Senator McCain is an extraordinary American," Rice also said of the presumptive Republican nominee. "A really outstanding leader and obviously a great patriot."
(CNN) - Barack Obama continues to chip away at Hillary Clinton's lead in the crucial state of Pennsylvania, a new Quinnipiac poll out Tuesday shows.
The New York senator's lead over Obama now stands at 6 points in the new poll, 50-44 percent. That compares to the 9 point lead Clinton held in a similar survey released 5 days ago, and an 11 point lead in a Quinnipiac survey late last month.
Specifically, Clinton has lost ground among white voters and men: She now holds an 18 point lead among whites, down from a 25 point gap in last week’s poll, and trails Obama by 4 points among males. Last week, the two drew equal support from men.
But Clinton continues to remain strong with her core voting bloc of older voters and white women, and likely Pennsylvania Democratic voters rate her more favorably than Obama - 71 percent for Clinton and 67 percent for Obama.
With the latest Quinnipiac poll, CNN's poll of several recent surveys show Clinton's lead over Obama in Pennsylvania now averages 6 percentage points. That gap is 1 point less than Monday’s poll of polls and 5 points less than a CNN poll of polls on Friday.
What's behind the shift?
"Obama has outspent Hillary Clinton three to one just on television advertising in Pennsylvania. He spent more than $3 million trying to get his name out and his message out to Hillary Clinton's $1 million," said Mark Preston, a CNN political editor.
The Illinois senator has also heavily benefited from the Service Employees International Union, which according to recently filed FEC reports has spent well over $700,000 on get-out-the-vote-efforts there.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Just before and immediately after the U.S. launched its invasion of Iraq, Bush administration officials optimistically predicted that Iraqi oil exports would soon finance the reconstruction of the country. That didn’t happen. U.S. taxpayers were stuck with the literally tens of billions of dollars in bills.
Now, five years later and with the price of oil reaching more than $100 a barrel, Iraqi oil exports are generating huge sums - $56.4 billion this year alone, according to the Government Accountability Office. Senator Carl Levin, the Chairman of the Armed Services Committee, says Iraq now has tens of billions of dollars in surplus funds in their banks and in other accounts around the world, including about $30 billion in U.S. banks right now.
But Levin notes that the Iraqis by and large are still not using their money to build new roads, bridges, schools and hospitals. Why should they? Uncle Sam is still doing that for them.
(CNN) - Hillary Clinton’s team has been sending out regular press releases calling on Barack Obama’s economic adviser to join that campaign’s daily conference call and explain his alleged comments to the Canadian government about NAFTA. On Tuesday, a major labor supporter on an official Obama campaign call made the same request – this time, of the candidate himself.
Teamsters President James Hoffa was asked by a reporter what the difference was between recently-demoted Clinton adviser Mark Penn’s meetings with Colombian officials and Austan Goolsbee’s reported remarks to Canadian officials that Obama's campaign trail criticism of the North American Free Trade Agreement was just rhetoric.
Hoffa said the fact that Penn was working on behalf of, and getting compensated by, the Colombians was a major distinction.
Then he called on Obama himself to comment on the Goolsbee controversy – using language that echoed the Clinton campaign’s, said the senator needed to "clarify whatever happened at that meeting."
(LATE UPDATE: Hoffa backtracks, after the jump.)