(CNN) - Former Democratic National Committee Chairman Joe Andrew - who was appointed to that post in 1999 by then-President Clinton - is withdrawing his endorsement of Hillary Clinton, and backing Barack Obama instead.
Andrew, who made a Thursday morning appearance at Obama's state headquarters in Indianapolis, said the time had come to "heal the rift in this party and unite behind Barack Obama now."
On a conference call with reporters and Obama campaign manager David Plouffe, Andrew said superdelegates need to make their decisions "now." He added that he'd like to see Obama pick Indiana Sen. Evan Bayh - a strong Clinton backer who has said the Jeremiah Wright controversy would pose general election problems for the Illinois senator - as his running mate.
"I'm going to be an advocate for an Obama/Bayh ticket," he said. Andrew will be doing local media interviews Thursday, and appearing at campaign events Friday.
(CNN) - John McCain today said that President Bush was not to blame for the decision to speak in front of the famed “Mission Accomplished” banner aboard the U.S.S. Abraham Lincoln five years ago.
“Do I blame him for that specific banner? of course not,” McCain told reporters during a press conference Thursday afternoon in Cleveland.
The presumptive Republican nominee said that he feels responsibility should rest with elected officials who made statements at the time that “were contradicted by the facts on the ground.”
McCain, who has been a fierce critic of former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld for years, said again that the former cabinet member was to blame for misleading statements. “When the leaders of government – the Secretary of Defense – says that ‘there’s only a few dead enders,’ then that is an area that responsibility should be placed, in my view.”
Asked if there will ever be a moment when the United States’ mission will indeed be accomplished in Iraq, McCain responded: “I don’t know if you could ever say quote ‘mission accomplished’ as much as you could say ‘Americans are out of harms’ way.’”
(CNN) - New poll numbers appear to bolster Hillary Clinton's argument that she is in a better position to win the crucial general election swing states than rival Barack Obama.
Three new Quinnipiac University polls out of Florida, Ohio, and Pennsylvania show Clinton matching up stronger against McCain than the Illinois senator. In Florida and Ohio specifically, Clinton beats McCain handedly while Obama ties the Arizona senator.
In Florida, Clinton beats McCain by 8 points (49 to 41 percent) while Obama trails by 1 point (44 to 43 percent) In Ohio, Clinton is up 10 points over McCain (48-38 percent) while Obama is again down 1 point. (43 to 42 percent).
Clinton and Obama both beat McCain in Pennsylvania, though Clinton does so by a wider margin. (Clinton bests McCain by 14 points there, Obama beats McCain by 9 points.)
"It’s very hard to think of the electoral map, at least to a democratic victory, without Ohio and or Florida, and Sen. Clinton appears to be in much strong shape in those states," Clinton strategist Geoff Garin said.
The Clinton campaign is hoping the party's superdelegates comes to believe the New York senator has a better chance than Obama of winning the swing states that they say are necessary to capture the White House.
More than 300 superdelegates are expected to make up their minds shortly after the last primary on June 3. Clinton needs to win more than two-thirds of their votes in order to overcome Obama's pledged-delegate lead.
(CNN)— The Iraq war – which has taken a back seat to economic concerns on the campaign trail recently – returned to the forefront Thursday as Democratic presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama used the fifth anniversary of President Bush’s “Mission Accomplished” speech to blast the administration’s war policy.
At a campaign event in Indiana, Obama drew a parallel between President Bush’s ‘Mission Accomplished’ speech and Clinton and John McCain’s gas tax holiday proposals, telling the crowd that ultimately, the “the long term problems... keep going and going and going.”
“You remember when George Bush five years ago put up a big sign in front of an aircraft carrier saying: ‘Mission accomplished in Iraq.’ I’m sure they thought that was good politics. Except five years later we're still in this war in Iraq,” said the Illinois senator, who has made his early opposition to the war a major theme of his campaign.
His Democratic rival stressed administration missteps in the early days of the conflict. “The fifth anniversary of President Bush's ‘Mission Accomplished’ speech comes the same week as a chief architect of the Bush administration’s war in Iraq conceded ‘We were clueless on counterinsurgency,’” Clinton said in a statement. “The path forward is to use American diplomacy and our allies to allow U.S. forces to come home, and turn responsibility back to Iraq and its people.”
(CNN) - Democratic National Committee member John Patrick, a 31-year member of the United Steelworkers union and vice president of the Texas AFL-CIO, officially announced his support for Barack Obama Thursday. The nod is Obama’s second superdelegate endorsement of the day.
Earlier Thursday, former DNC Chairman Joe Andrew switched his vote from Clinton to Obama. The superdelegate gap between Clinton and Obama stands at 18 in CNN’s latest count.
"Senator Barack Obama has spent a lifetime standing up for American workers, and he will be a crucial voice for us in the White House,” Patrick said in a statement released by the Obama campaign. “He has consistently opposed unfair trade deals that fail to offer protection to American workers - like NAFTA. Senator Obama has a real plan to put money back in the pockets of working families by restoring the manufacturing base in America."
Patrick had been a supporter of former Senator John Edwards’ presidential bid.
(CNN) - Hillary Clinton's campaign launched a new ad in North Carolina Thursday that features the state's governor, Mike Easley.
Easley, who endorsed Clinton earlier this week, says the New York senator is "so resilient, so determined."
"These are tough times in America and I think that Hillary is the one we can count on to get the job done," Easley also says in the 30-second spot, titled "Determined."
The ad comes five days before the state's May 6 primary. Barack Obama is considered the favorite, though recent polls suggest Clinton is gaining support.
BOONVILLE, Indiana (CNN) - Michelle Obama said Wednesday that her husband's move to distance himself from his controversial former minister has been "painful," but that she's pleased with the way he's handled the situation.
"I was proud of the statement he made yesterday," she said in an interview with CNN's Suzanne Malveaux. "It was a tough thing for him to do - it's a painful situation to be in."
On Tuesday, Obama said he was "outraged" by comments the Rev. Jeremiah Wright made to the National Press Club in Washington on Monday. The candidate said he was "saddened by the spectacle" of what Wright said.
(CNN)—Outspoken documentary film-maker Michael Moore said Wednesday night Hillary Clinton is trying to scare voters away from casting a ballot for Barack Obama.
In a wide ranging interview, Moore told CNN’s Larry King he found the Clinton campaign’s recent approach “disgusting.”
“For her to try and make white—white working class, as they say - people vote for her and not for him, to frighten them with words like ‘Hamas’ and ‘Farrakhan’” was unnecessary, he said. “I think at some point she’s going to be disappointed in herself for having done that.”
The 54-year-old Oscar-winning filmmaker, who endorsed Obama’s presidential bid on his Web site one day before Pennsylvania’s critical April 22, said Wednesday he can’t support anyone who voted for an “immoral war [that] should have never happened,” and repeated his calls for Clinton to apologize for her Iraq war vote, as Sen. John Kerry and former Sen. John Edwards have done.
But Moore said the campaign should center on the idea that John McCain is four more years of George W. bush,” and “not [on] what an elderly black man is saying because […] we’re not voting for Reverend Wright.”
KOKOMO, Indiana (CNN) – Hillary Clinton is defending her proposal to eliminate the gas tax this summer, as rival Barack Obama and some economists continued to criticize it as a gimmick to appeal to voters that won’t actually impact their wallets.
“You’re going to hear from my opponent, and you’re going to hear from columnists and you’re going to hear from talking heads about how there’s nothing we can do about these gas prices except to have a long-term plan,” Clinton told supporters at an Indiana rally Wednesday night.
“Well of course we need a long-term plan,” said the New York senator. “But I’m not going to sit idly by and see people go out of business who are independent truckers not able to continue to choose between food and gas because they can’t afford either. I’m not going to sit idly by.”
To illustrate her point, Clinton rode to work with a steelworker from South Bend, Indiana, Wednesday morning in a pickup truck. In a staged photo-op, they stopped for gas and paid over $60 for just under three-quarters of a tank.
Clinton has said hers is a short-term solution that would mostly benefit truckers and drivers with long commutes. She plans to introduce legislation in the Senate in the near future.