(CNN) - Sen. John McCain, the presumptive Republican nominee, picked up Friday where President Bush left off Thursday.
In the latest episode of CNN=Politics Daily, Sen. McCain and Sen. Barack Obama, the front-runner for the Democratic Party's nomination, spar over U.S. foreign policy in what appears to be a preview of a possible general election match-up.
CNN's Jim Acosta reports on how Obama responded Friday to Pres. Bush's remarks in Israel a day earlier.
Dana Bash is out on the campaign trail with McCain. She reports on how the Democratic Party has targeted McCain in the wake of Bush's controversial comments and Wolf Blitzer brings you McCain's latest salvo launched at Obama during the Arizona senator's speech Friday evening in Kentucky.
The California Supreme Court's historic ruling Thursday striking down the state's ban on same-sex marriage may send shock waves through the 2008 presidential race that reverberate to the benefit of one candidate in particular. Carol Costello takes a look at the politics of the gay rights issue.
It's Friday. That means it's time for Jennifer Mikell's Trail Mix - a retrospective of the most memorable moments in the presidential race this week.
Finally, Wolf Blitzer recently sat down with both Obama and Sen. Hillary Clinton. In two special episodes of CNN=Politics Daily, watch Blitzer's entire interviews with the Democratic rivals.
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(CNN) - During a speech before the National Rifle Association convention Friday afternoon in Louisville, Kentucky, former Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee - who has endorsed presumptive GOP nominee John McCain - joked that an unexpected offstage noise was Democrat Barack Obama looking to avoid a gunman.
“That was Barack Obama, he just tripped off a chair, he's getting ready to speak,” said the former Arkansas governor, to audience laughter. “Somebody aimed a gun at him and he dove for the floor.”
Obama supports extending the assault weapons ban, limits on gun sales, and a national law against carrying concealed weapons, with exceptions for retired police and military personnel. John McCain – whose legislative record was awarded a C+ rating by the NRA in 2004, but has received a perfect score – will address the group later Friday afternoon. His speech will include remarks "on the issue of unconditional negotiation with state sponsors of terror" that aides tell CNN’s Dana Bash are a direct response to Obama’s comments earlier Friday.
UPDATE, 8:28 PM: Huckabee released the following statement regarding his comments Friday, according to the New York Times website:
During my speech at the N.R.A., a loud noise backstage, that sounded like a chair falling, distracted the crowd and interrupted my speech. I made an off hand remark that was in no way intended to offend or disparage Sen. Obama. I apologize that my comments were offensive. That was never my intention.
JUNCTION CITY, Oregon (CNN) – As Barack Obama and John McCain spent much of Friday sparring over foreign policy, Hillary Clinton quietly ignored them during an economic roundtable in an Oregon home, instead focusing her attacks on President Bush’s attempts to lower oil prices during his trip to Saudi Arabia.
“President Bush is over in Saudi Arabia having tea with the Saudi leaders trying to persuade them to either increase supply or lower prices. That’s his energy policy,” said Clinton. “I don’t think it’s good energy policy to depend upon the kindness of the Saudis and the other OPEC nations.”
Energy is a pillar of Clinton’s stump speech and at every rally she lays out a four point plan to lower gas prices. The most recent addition to the plan is her economically and environmentally controversial proposal to remove the gas tax this summer and have oil companies pay it.
“I think it’s very important that we do something more dramatic than having tea with the Saudis,” said Clinton. “The Saudis may decide, “Well we better do something to help out President Bush,” but that’s a short-term fix and it’s not going to have any long-term consequences.”
After meeting with the president, Saudi Arabian officials agreed to increase output but it’s unlikely that will be enough to impact oil prices.
At the end of the roundtable in Marvin and Sandy Mehlbrech’s Junction City home, Mrs. Mehlbrech begged Clinton to ignore calls for her to drop out of the race.
“Please stay in, please stay in,” Melbrech pleaded. “I know there’s so many people that are really behind you.”
Clinton said she was going to stay in the race, claiming that she is ahead in the popular vote – debatable because of the complicated method of counting states' votes as well at the controversy surrounding Michigan and Florida.
“I appreciate you saying that,” Clinton told Mrs. Melbrech. “We’re going to let everybody vote.”
(CNN) - John McCain’s campaign sent reporters footage of a 2006 interview between former Clinton State Department official Jamie Rubin and John McCain Friday which they said proved the presumptive Republican nominee had been quoted out of context in an op-ed claiming he advocated dialogue with the Islamic militant group Hamas.
Rubin, a supporter of Hillary Clinton’s presidential bid, had made the claim in a piece published in Friday’s Washington Post. A clip of the exchange, which came during an interview Rubin conducted for Sky News, was published on the Huffington Post Web site.
At the time, said Rubin, McCain told him the United States would not be able to avoid a dialogue with Hamas, which had recently won a majority in Palestinian elections. "They're the government; sooner or later we are going to have to deal with them, one way or another,” said the senator.
(CNN) - Presumptive Republican nominee John McCain swiftly responded to Barack Obama’s foreign policy criticism Friday, calling the Illinois senator’s positions “reckless,” saying Americans had “every reason to doubt” he could keep the country safe.
“Senator Obama claimed all I had to offer was the ‘naive and irresponsible belief’ that tough talk would cause Iran to give up its nuclear program. He should know better,” McCain told the audience at the National Rifle Association’s annual convention in Lousville, Kentucky. “I have some news for Senator Obama: Talking, not even with soaring rhetoric, [about] unconditional meetings with the man who calls Israel a ‘stinking corpse’ and arms terrorists who kill Americans will not convince Iran to give up its nuclear program. It is reckless to suggest that unconditional meetings will advance our interests.
“It would be a wonderful thing if we lived in a world where we don't have enemies. But that is not the world we live in, and until Senator Obama understands that reality, the American people have every reason to doubt whether he has the strength, judgment, and determination to keep us safe.”
(CNN) - Seeing John Edwards and Barack Obama on the same stage earlier this week left political pundits buzzing: Could these two be an unbeatable presidential ticket?
They appeared to have natural chemistry - something Edwards and then-Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry seemed to lack in 2004 - and the former North Carolina senator remains popular among a key demographic that has been reluctant to support Obama - working class white voters.
But Edwards flatly said Friday, as he had before he endorsed a candidate, that he's not interested in making a second run for vice president.
"No," Edwards said in no uncertain terms on NBC's the Today show when asked about the possibility. "Won't happen.…It's just not something I am interested in."
As for another position in an Obama administration, specifically Attorney General, Edwards was decidedly more coy.
"I don't really want to get involved in that speculation," he said. "Right now we have to focus on getting Barack Obama elected to President of the United States, then we’ll worry about those things."
Edwards formally endorsed Obama Wednesday evening, the day after Clinton scored a 41 point victory over the Illinois senator in West Virginia. Edwards also said Friday the timing of his announcement was not specifically designed by the Obama campaign to direct the media coverage away from the New York senator's win.
"That's not true," he said. "I know it's not true because I am the one who made the decision about when to do this. I believe this was the right time to do it. I made a decision that the public should know at this point my view."
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Barack Obama came out swinging against both President Bush and John McCain. At issue: the allegation that those who are willing to sit down with terrorists are no different than those who sought to appease Adolph Hitler in the lead-up to World War II. A day after President Bush’s speech in Jerusalem, Obama gave a tough speech of his own defending his record and then followed up with a lengthy news conference.
Obama’s political strategy is clearly designed to prevent the accusation from gaining credibility. Republicans have successfully raised questions about Democrats national security credibility over the years. Obama and his supporters who fanned out across the television networks want to make sure that those charges don’t have time to resonate.
I remember covering the 1988 presidential race between then-Vice President George H.W. Bush and Mike Dukakis. The Democratic nominee was branded as weak on national security. He was ridiculed for wearing a helmet while on a tank. The picture clearly made him look silly. Even though he had emerged from the Democratic convention that summer way ahead of Bush in the national polls, he eventually lost the election in November.
Many Democrats learned an important lesson in the process. Once attacked, attack right back and don’t wait. Bill Clinton learned that lesson in 1992. It’s seems Obama has learned that lesson as well.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - House Republicans have changed their new slogan about change.
After losing a hotly-contested Mississippi congressional seat this week, their third straight special election defeat in a row, House GOP leaders planned a public relations offensive, including a rollout of a new agenda pegged to the slogan, "The Change You Deserve."
It turns out the phrase matched a tagline for the anti-depressant drug Effexor. As word of the similarity got out, Democrats had a field day ridiculing Republicans.
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Maryland, told reporters Wednesday, "Democrats, not drugs, is what the American people need."
House Democratic Caucus Chairman Rahm Emanuel, D-Illinois, released a list of what he called the side effects of "Republican rule,” including “nausea because what they did to the economy makes people sick to their stomach."
Asked Thursday morning if he was planning to change the slogan, House Republican Leader John Boehner said "No. I think it's working just fine."
But in an e-mail later that afternoon from GOP Conference Chairman Adam Putnam to House Republicans, the new agenda had a new name - “The Change America Deserves.”
A memo sent out hours later from Boehner's political action committee to GOP candidates also included the new slogan.
The Tennessee Republican Party has set its sights on Michelle Obama – the wife of Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama.
A new web video highlights her controversial comment earlier this year, saying she was proud of America "for the first time in my adult life." Obama later clarified the remark saying she meant she was proud of how Americans were engaging in the political process, and that she was always proud of her country.
Nonetheless, the GOP video replays her remark six times and mixes in commentary by people who live in Tennessee on why they're proud of America. The party says it's always been proud of this country, and it requested that state radio stations play patriotic music in honor of Michelle Obama's visit there yesterday.
The Obama campaign calls the attack "shameful”. It says that the Republican Party's "pathetic" attempts to use similar smear tactics have already failed in elections in Mississippi and Louisiana, and will fail again in November.
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ATLANTA (CNN) - I’m not exactly sure how it happened. But yesterday I found myself involved in an intense discussion about politics in the middle of the newsroom with…. Wait for it…. rapper Ludacris and rocker Tommy Lee. The two men were here to promote their new reality show “Battleground Earth.” In the show both artists try to out green each other while trying to coax viewers into environmental consciousness.
Out of the gate I asked about green backlash. Many people feel like this entire “going green” movement has become more marketing than reality. They agreed that while people might see it that way, it’s not necessarily so, at least in their view.
Tommy Lee admits he’s not a political junkie - he says he rarely watches television or listens to news reports. So he had no opinion on the presidential candidates’ environmental policies. In fact, he had no opinions on any of their policies. “Man, tell you the truth, I only listen to music,” he said in front of the entire room and about four cameras. He seemed sincere. I didn’t press him.
Ludacris, however, was very opinionated. He very strongly said to me, “I support Barack Obama.” He is happy with Obama’s environmental policies, and keenly aware of just how much attention this election is garnering from the American people. But when I tried to press him on other issues like race, religion and HIV in the black community, he steered the conversation back to his stance on the environment. He did promise, however, to address those issues with me in another interview at another time. Smooth. Ludacris has come a long way in a short time: from rapper to social activist to environmental cheerleader.
As he and Tommy Lee walked off, entourage and reality TV cameras in tow, I thought to myself: if someone had told me at breakfast that I’d be talking with Tommy Lee and Ludacris later in the day about the environment and politics I would have called them a liar, which just goes to show, you never know. For hanging out just a bit with music superstars, I got mad props from my colleagues here at CNN.