Sen. McCain was joined by his wife, Cindy, at a Florida press conference Sunday. (AP Photo)
(CNN) - Sen. John McCain, the presumptive Republican nominee, didn't waste a lot of verbiage reacting to the New York Times report on his use of a private jet belonging to his wife's company for campaign trips - at less cost than normal charter flights
At a news conference in Coral Gables, Florida, McCain used just eight words to respond to a reporter's question before moving on. "What we did was perfectly legal and appropriate," McCain said. The Arizona senator didn't answer the part of the reporter's question about whether the use of plane contradicted McCain's stance on campaign finance reform.
There is nothing illegal about what McCain did. Under a law which McCain supported, presidential candidates are now required to pay charter rates rather than just less expensive commercial first class rates when they use corporate jets. But under an FEC exemption, candidates don't have TO reimburse full costs if the plane is owned BY a candidate, a candidate's family, or by a privately held company controlled by a candidate or a candidate's family member. (The FEC has tried to end the family exemption, but didn't have enough sitting commissioners to change the rule, according to the Times report.)
The Times story said McCain used the jet over a 7-month period starting last summer, mostly for campaign trips. The campaign paid $241,149 for the trips.far less than the cost for normal charter trips.
Why are some raising questions over it? The Times reported some campaign finance experts said using the exemption goes against the spirit of the new law, and McCain has championed campaign finance reform. McCain had also said he didn't plan to use his wife's wealth to help with the campaign last summer.
WILMINGTON, North Carolina (CNN) – Ignoring Barack Obama’s insistence that he won’t participate in a debate before North Carolina and Indiana’s May 6 primaries, Hillary Clinton again challenged her opponent on Sunday night to a Lincoln-Douglas style debate without moderators.
“I have to say, I am very, very regretful that my opponent will not agree to a debate in North Carolina,” Clinton said to loud cheers as she wrapped up a rally. “We could even do it on the back of a flat-bed truck, it doesn’t even have to be in some fancy studio somewhere.”
Obama told reporters he would rather spend his time before May 6 “reaching out to folks” than being in a studio. A Clinton spokesman said she will continue to push for a debate.
Compiled by Jonathan Helman
CNN Washington Bureau
WSJ: Obama Tackles Bread-and-Butter Issues in Indiana
Barack Obama recast his call for change by speaking more directly to voters' economic concerns as polls show him in a dead heat with Hillary Clinton in Indiana. The shift comes amid signs that Sen. Obama's lofty appeals for hope and change may not be resonating with financially insecure voters, and may even be driving them away.
NY Times: McCain Criticizes Remarks by Obama’s Former Pastor
Senator John McCain delved on Sunday into remarks made by Senator Barack Obama’s former pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr., saying it was “beyond belief” that Mr. Wright had likened the Romans at the time of Jesus’ crucifixion to the Marines and had suggested that the United States was acting like Al Qaeda under a different color flag.
USA Today: McCain Runs Strong As Democrats Battle On
Why is this man smiling? Arizona Sen. John McCain could understandably be scowling: He could face a more difficult political landscape than any presidential candidate in a generation. Only 39% of Americans have a favorable view of the Republican Party he represents, the latest USA TODAY/Gallup Poll shows. A record 63% say the Iraq war he defends was a mistake. The disapproval rating for President Bush, the incumbent McCain has embraced, has hit 69%, the most negative assessment of any president since Gallup began asking the question 70 years ago.
Washington Post: Democrats Registering In Record Numbers
The past seven states to hold primaries registered more than 1 million new Democratic voters; Republican numbers mainly ebbed or stagnated. North Carolina and Indiana, which will hold their presidential primaries on May 6, are reporting a swell of new Democrats that triples the surge in registrations before the 2004 primary.
Compiled by Jonathan Helman, CNN Washington Bureau
*Hillary Clinton attends an early vote event in Salisbury, North Carolina and a rally in Charlotte, North Carolina.
*John McCain participates in a health care tour and roundtable as well as a media availability in Miami, Florida. He also holds finance events in Fort Lauderdale, Ocean Ridge, and Tampa, Florida.
*Barack Obama is in North Carolina. He attends town hall meetings in Wilmington and Wilson and a rally in Chapel Hill.