(CNN) - The American Postal Workers Union announced Wednesday it is backing Barack Obama, a boost to the Illinois senator two weeks before the crucial April 22 Pennsylvania primary.
“Sen. Obama’s message is one of hope and change,” APWU President William Burrus said in a statement. “His message is special, and the timing is right.”
“We are most impressed by Sen. Obama’s commitment to eradicating the undue influence of special interests in the political process,” he added. “Our current political system does not allow for the voices of average citizens to be heard over the demands of lobbyists and big-money campaign contributors.
APWU is an affiliate of the AFL-CIO which says it represents 300,000 postal workers. The AFL-CIO could not reach an agreement on a primary season endorsement last year, though the more of its branches have endorsed Hillary Clinton than Obama.
(CNN) - John McCain's campaign is seizing on Barack Obama’s comments Tuesday night deriding the public financing system for presidential campaigns. A senior McCain adviser calls it the latest signal that the Democratic candidate may abandon a promise to participate in the system, should he become the Democratic nominee.
“It seems he is taking another step down the path of breaking his promise to the American people,” said McCain adviser Steve Schmidt. “Obama is running an increasingly negative campaign built on a foundation of untruthful attacks and broken promises. That is the type of politics Americans are sick of and John McCain is going to change.”
At a fundraiser Tuesday night, Obama told donors that “we have created a parallel public financing system where the American people decide if they want to support a campaign they can get on the Internet and finance it, and they will have as much access and influence over the course and direction of our campaign that has traditionally reserved for the wealthy and the powerful."
(CNN) - A prominent surrogate and fundraiser for Hillary Clinton took to the Wall Street Journal editorial page Wednesday to call on Barack Obama to address "unanswered questions" about his former pastor more fully.
Lanny Davis, a former special counsel to President Clinton and a key backer of the New York senator, describes his unease with Obama's response last month to the controversy surrounding his former minister, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, and predicts the issue could play a major role in the general election if Obama is the Democratic nominee.
"Clearly Mr. Obama does not share the extremist views of Rev. Wright. He is a tolerant and honorable person. But that is not the issue," Davis writes. "The questions remain: Why did he stay a member of the congregation? Why didn't he speak up earlier? And why did he reward Rev. Wright with a campaign position even after knowing of his comments?"
Davis also says his own questions of Obama have been triggered anew after recently rereading some of Wright's most controversial sermons.
"I keep thinking: If my rabbi ever uttered such hateful words from the pulpit about America and declared all Palestinians to be terrorists, I have no doubt I would have withdrawn immediately from his congregation," Davis writes.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Barack Obama has spent a record breaking $60 million to run more than 100,000 political television ads in pursuit of the Democratic presidential nomination, a new analysis conducted for CNN shows.
In contrast, John Kerry ran a little more than 19,000 TV ads four years ago in his successful bid for the Democratic nomination, according to TNS Media Intelligence/CMAG, CNN’s consultant on political television advertising spending.
Kerry wrapped up the nomination in the first week of March 2004, while there is no end in sight in the battle between Obama and Hillary Clinton for the right to be the 2008 Democratic nominee.
Clinton, who trails Obama in fundraising by about $60 million, has run just over 60,000 TV ads in her bid for the White House.
“If it was not for Obama’s spending, Clinton’s would look pretty impressive,” said Evan Tracey, CMAG’s chief operating officer. “Clearly, the fundraising is being translated immediately into television buys.
Tracey added, “Regardless of the outcome in Pennsylvania it will be very hard to second guess Obama’s strategy. The money he is raising is being immediately translated into television buys in Pennsylvania, North Carolina and Indiana.”
ALIQUIPPA, Pennsylvania (CNN) - One day after telling General David Petraeus and Iraq Ambassador Ryan Crocker that it would be "irresponsible" to continue American military involvement in Iraq, Clinton took the issue onto the campaign trail and claimed her two rivals for the White House cannot be trusted to end the war.
Before a backdrop reading "Solutions for a Strong Military," Clinton accused John McCain of wanting to keep troops in Iraq "for up to 100 years," a charge McCain's campaign has disputed.
"Yesterday, he basically reiterated his commitment to the course we are on," she said. "Well, I don't agree with that."
Clinton's plan calls for the U.S. to begin withdrawal within 60 days of her becoming president, in consult with military advisers. In her speech Wednesday, she questioned Barack Obama's commitment to achieving the same goal.
"Sen. Obama on the other hand says he will end the war, but his top foreign policy adviser said he won't necessarily follow the plan he has been talking about during this campaign, that his plan is just words," she said. "You can count on me to end the war safely and responsibly."
(UPDATE: McCain, Obama camps respond after the jump)
(CNN) – Elizabeth Edwards, wife of former Democratic presidential hopeful John Edwards, is picking sides in the Democratic nomination race – at least with respect to health care. In an interview that aired Wednesday on ABC’s “Good Morning America,” she threw her support behind Sen. Hillary Clinton’s health care plan.
“In order to ensure that we have universal coverage, we need to say everybody has to join,” Edwards told ABC’s Robin Roberts. “So, for that reason, the mandates that Sen. Clinton is talking about, I think are going to be more successful in achieving the goal,” she added.
Both health care plans have the same goals, said Edwards, but “I just have more confidence in Sen. Clinton’s policies than Sen. Obama’s on this particular issue.”
(CNN) - Sen. Hillary Clinton and her husband Bill don't see eye-to-eye when it comes to a controversial free trade pact, her campaign says.
Hillary Clinton staunchly opposes a free trade agreement with Colombia, but her husband, the former president, supports it.
Clinton's campaign spokesman, Jay Carson, told The Associated Press that her opposition to the deal is "clear and firm."
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Senior Democratic senators privately considered Tuesday Sen. Robert Byrd's capacity to handle his spot at the top of the powerful Senate Appropriations Committee, but the 90-year-old lawmaker won't be stepping down from the demanding job, his office told CNN.
Roll Call first reported the discussions by several Democratic senators, and a Democratic aide, speaking on condition of anonymity, confirmed to CNN the thrust of the newspaper report.
"There are some who have concerns," the aide said. "Ahead of the appropriations season, some people have concerns which leaked out of a meeting."
But the West Virginia senator's spokesman, Jesse Jacobs, rejected talk of replacing Byrd as chairman of the committee.
"Once again, it appears that Washington insiders are practicing what they do best - petty rumor mongering," Jacobs said in a statement.
(CNN) - The presidential candidates are calling on China to improve its human rights record as protests over the crackdown in Tibet follow the Olympic flame on its international journey.
All of the presidential candidates have condemned China for the way it has handled demonstrators calling for democratic freedoms and self-rule in Tibet and neighboring Chinese provinces.
Sens. Barack Obama and John McCain both advocate a tougher approach toward the Chinese government, but Sen. Hillary Clinton is the first of the candidates to suggest President Bush skip the Olympic opening ceremonies in Beijing.
Compiled by Jonathan Helman
CNN Washington Bureau
Boston Globe: Democrats' Ads Flood Pa.; Poll Suggests Obama Gains
A Quinnipiac University poll out yesterday had Clinton leading 50 percent to 44 percent, but that 6-point edge is down from 9 percentage points last week and 12 points in mid-March in the same survey. The new poll, conducted Thursday through Sunday among 1,340 likely Democratic voters, had a sampling error margin of plus or minus 2.7 percentage points.
Washington Post: Pittsburgh's Young Mayor Wants City to Line Up Behind Clinton
At 28, the youngest big-city mayor in modern U.S. history, Luke Ravenstahl has become one of Hillary Clinton's key backers in Pennsylvania, her top surrogate in its second-largest city and an effective rejoinder to the idea that Sen. Barack Obama, her rival for the Democratic presidential nomination, has a lock on young voters in the state.
WSJ: Ads Prod Candidates on Issues of Trade
A new advertising campaign designed by a coalition of domestic manufacturers and a labor union was unveiled Tuesday, aimed at getting the presidential candidates to take tougher stances on trade, particularly against China.
Washington Post: Groups Step Up Efforts to Avert Voting Mishaps
The NAACP National Voter Fund and the National Coalition on Black Civic Participation are tracking voter complaints, and more than 1,000 lawyers have volunteered to staff polling places and call centers to guard against voter suppression. The participants said they are hoping to use information assembled during the primaries to force local election officials to make changes to avert the problems that drew complaints after the 2000 and 2004 presidential elections.