NEWARK, New Jersey (CNN) – John McCain on Friday defended his charge that the terrorist organization Hamas is rooting for Barack Obama to win the presidency - and said voters were welcome to discuss whether his age should be a factor in the fall campaign.
A Hamas official told an interviewer last month that the group approved of Obama's candidacy. Friday, McCain said the group's opinion is relevant - despite Obama's characterization of that opinion as a “smear.”
“It's very obvious to everyone that Senator Obama shares nothing of the values or goals of Hamas, which is a terrorist organization,” McCain said. “But it's also fact that a spokesperson from Hamas said that he approves of Obama's candidacy. I think that's of interest to the American people.”
McCain's campaign reacted with outrage Thursday to Obama's remark that the senator was “losing his bearings” over the course of the campaign - a phrase they said was a dig at the Arizona senator's age. But McCain himself said Friday the language didn't bother him.
“I ignore it,” McCain said. “I don’t take offense to it.”
(CNN) - The Republican National Committee is stepping up its efforts against Barack Obama, launching a new Web site Friday that solicits voters to question the Illinois senator on issues "he has failed to address or refused to answer."
The site is encouraging both text and video submissions via YouTube. It also features a Web video suggesting certain questions to ask, including, "Why, as an Illinois state Senator, did he vote 'present' over 130 times instead of 'yes' or 'no' on difficult issues like abortion, crime, and guns?" and "Why did he tell donors in San Francisco that the economy has driven small town voters to 'cling' to guns and religion?"
(CNN) – Hillary Clinton’s campaign stepped up its efforts to convince uncommitted members of Congress to back her campaign Friday, releasing a memo signed by more than a dozen congressional Democrats that argues she is “the strongest candidate to have at the top of the ticket this fall” and sending a PowerPoint presentation to legislators detailing her ability to carry swing districts.
The representatives – including Kendrick Meek and Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida, one of the states at the center of the party’s heated delegate dispute – say the party will unite around Barack Obama if he becomes the nominee, but point to her wins in states like Ohio and Pennsylvania as evidence she can “connect with voters we must deliver in the fall, including blue collar Democrats who can sway this election as they have in the past….
“Hillary has won rural and suburban districts which we as Democrats must carry to maintain our edge in Congress.”
And in a PowerPoint presentation e-mailed to every Democratic legislator on Capitol Hill, along with the rest of the party’s superdelegates, the Clinton campaign detailed instances that demonstrated how Clinton had beaten Obama in Republican-leaning congressional districts, and had consistently topped him among key voting blocs like seniors and Hispanics.
“In 2006, the Democrats retook Congress by picking up 31 new seats. 20 of these freshmen Democrats are in Republican-leaning districts that voted for President Bush in 2004,” says the presentation. “These freshmen need a nominee who can compete in their tough districts.”
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Sen. Barack Obama closed in Friday on Sen. Hillary Clinton's lead among supedelegates, the Democratic party officials who hold the balance of power in determining which one will be the party's nominee for president in November.
The Obama campaign announced the support of two new superdelegates early Friday morning - including one who had been backing Clinton. Clinton also announced a new supporter, maintaining her lead over the Illinois senator, but only by a handful of delegates. (Related: Another Clinton superdelegate jumps ship to Obama)
Rep. Peter DeFazio of Oregon announced his support for Obama to his local newspaper, the Oregonian. Oregon voters are currently in the middle of primary voting, which takes place through the mail.
Rep. Donald Payne, a New Jersey Democrat and an early Clinton supporter, told the Newark Star-Ledger he was switching to Obama. He is the third person to leave Clinton for Obama in the past 72 hours. Former Sen. George McGovern, D-South Dakota, announced Wednesday he had decided to switch, as did a Virginia superdelegate.
Rep. Christopher Carney of Pennsylvania said he was backing Clinton, the Clinton campaign told CNN.
Obama's huge victory over Clinton in North Carolina's Democratic primary Tuesday, coupled with a narrow loss in Indiana, put him within striking distance of the number of delegates he needs to cement the nomination.
A flood of endorsements from superdelegates could virtually end the race.
(CNN)— Lawrence O’Donnell, Emmy-Award winning producer of The West Wing and a contributor to the Huffington post, said Friday that a senior Clinton campaign official told him the New York Senator will be leaving the race by June 15 with a clear exit strategy.
O’Donnel said the senior campaign official told him they will continue on through the “final votes on June 3,” during which Clinton and Obama are expected to split the states.
After that point, O’Donnell said, the Clinton campaign “will take no more than a week to make their case to superdelegates and as you know, the superdelegates have absolutely no chance of moving over to Hillary Clinton in a week.”
(CNN) – The Rev. Al Sharpton has some blunt words for Hillary Clinton: "It's over."
Speaking on NY 1 Thursday night, Sharpton said it is now impossible for the New York senator to win the White House "without the total destruction of the Democratic Party.
Sharpton also likened Clinton to an entertainer that doesn't know when to exit the stage.
"The worst thing in the world is when an entertainer doesn’t know when the show is over," he said. "The audience is gone, the lights are down, you’re getting ready to cut the mics off and you are still on the stage singing.
"It’s over, it’s all right, it’s over," he said. "Come sing another day, but this show is over, Senator Clinton."
CENTRAL POINT, Oregon (CNN) – Campaigning in her third state of the day on Thursday, Hillary Clinton again called for a debate with Barack Obama, arguing that many of the issues faced in Oregon are not the same as the rest of the country.
“The problems in Oregon are not the same as the problems in Indiana. They’re not the same as the problems in Pennsylvania,” Clinton told several hundred supporters at a nighttime rally."
“...That’s why I was pleased to accept the invitation from the Democratic Party of Oregon to debate my opponent,” Clinton continued, pointing out that they would both be in Portland on Friday and that she was ready “anytime, anywhere.”
Oregon and Kentucky both vote May 20; the Obama campaign has said it expects to be positioned to lock up the nomination following those contests. Clinton urged Oregon voters to not be too hasty in their decision, saying the campaign had just gotten started in the state.
“If you think you’ve made up your mind to support my opponent, wait a while,” said Clinton. “Keep thinking, keep listening, keep watching, keep hoping for that debate which would really make it a very clear choice that you’d be able to see as we talked about the issues that affect Oregon.”
Clinton addressed the question that many have been asking – why does she keep going in the face of Obama’s seemingly insurmountable delegate lead.
“I’m going to keep going because you keep going,” Clinton told the gathering. “When people get up everyday and face the odds that so many face in life and they keep going, of course, that’s what you do if you believe that the future can be better than the present.”
(CNN) – Mark Sanford might be considered a vice presidential prospect by some, but the South Carolina governor won’t be appearing with John McCain when the presumptive Republican nominee arrives in the Palmetto State on Friday.
Sanford, a member of the Air Force Reserves, has reserve duty on Friday, a commitment that will keep him far away from McCain’s press conference in Columbia this afternoon.
Joel Sawyer, a spokesman for the governor, said Sanford’s wife Jenny will attend the McCain press conference as well as a big-ticket fundraiser in Columbia later in the day.
Despite the vice presidential speculation surrounding Sanford nationally, several McCain insiders in the state have privately downplayed the likelihood that he will tap Sanford, a staunch fiscal conservative, as a running mate.
McCain was asked about his vice presidential search process at a campaign event in New Jersey on Friday morning.
“There is a period where you just start looking at a large number of people,” McCain responded, “and we are still at that stage.”
SOMEWHERE BETWEEN WASHINGTON, DC AND PORTLAND, OREGON (CNN) – What's the best way to kill time on a five-hour flight? If you ask Barack Obama, he might suggest you play the game 'Taboo.'
The popular word game has recently become a staple among the traveling press corps as a way to pass time, and Thursday night's cross-country flight proved to be too much for the Illinois senator, as well—he came back for press vs. campaign staff match-up just a short while after takeoff.
In 'Taboo,' players - six on each team in this case - shouting clues at teammates in the hopes they'll quickly guess the word printed on a card.
The White House hopeful downplayed any expectations people may have had of his skills by repeating that he was going up against "wordsmiths" who have the kind of vocabularies that would, he said, give them an edge.
So it began - but not without the use of a few campaign-related clues.
Take the card with "California" printed on it, for example. To elicit that specific word as a response from his team, one reporter said it was "where Sen. Obama said his 'bitter' comments." Sen. Obama, meanwhile, stood just inches away. He laughed and told the group he came back to get away from politics.
The central rule of the game is that players are given a list of words or phrases they aren't allowed to use as clues - if someone on the opposing team notices this rule broken, he or she uses a battery powered alarm, and the opposing team gets the point.
When it was his moment to dish out the hints, a competitive Obama turned to one reporter and jokingly advised that they not "buzz" him because if they did he would limit their access on the trail.