(CNN) – Sen. Barack Obama, the Democratic Party's presumptive presidential nominee, signaled Thursday that he really means business when it comes to health care reform.
An elderly African-American man presented Obama, the first African-American to secure the nomination of a major party, with a gift. Charles Edwards, who told Obama he was 95 years old, gave Obama a long maple walking stick.
WATCH Obama's reaction to the gift.
"It's beautiful," Obama told Edwards. "And, if members of Congress don't pass my health care bill, I'm ready," Obama said wielding the stick as supporters laughed and cheered.
"I'll whup 'em," he joked. "They better not mess with me. I'll have that stick."
(CNN)—In the latest installment of CNN=Politics Daily, Senior Political Correspondent Candy Crowley sits down for an exclusive one-on-one with presumptive Democratic nominee Barack Obama. In the interview, the Illinois senator discusses the question that’s on everyone’s mind: who will be his choice for Vice President.
Hillary Clinton is expected to officially drop out of the presidential race Saturday, but some of her constituents wished the New York senator had done things differently. CNN’s Suzanne Malveaux reports.
Finally: Presumptive Republican nominee John McCain worked to court voters in Florida, which in the past has proved to be a crucial fall swing state.
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WASHINGTON (CNN) - Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid on Thursday stood by Sen. Joseph Lieberman, the Connecticut independent, despite Lieberman's attack on presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama a day earlier.
Lieberman criticized Obama's Middle East policy Wednesday in a conference call organized by the presumptive Republican nominee, Sen. John McCain.
"I think everyone should understand that Joe Lieberman has made a decision on issues related to the war. And he's decided to back John McCain.
But Joe Lieberman is an important vote for this caucus," Reid told reporters after being asked if he was considering removing Lieberman as chair of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.
The Democrats control the Senate by a 51-49 majority because Lieberman and another independent, Bernie Sanders of Vermont, vote with the Democrats.
During a brief Senate floor appearance Wednesday, Obama pulled Lieberman aside and held a lengthy and animated conversation with him.
The interaction took place shortly after Lieberman criticized Obama's speech to an influential pro-Israel group.
(CNN) — Barack Obama said Thursday he's in no rush to pick a vice presidential candidate, telling CNN “everybody needs to settle down" and let the vetting process run its course.
Speaking with CNN's Candy Crowley Thursday, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee said it's not in his best interest — or in the interest of his former rival Hillary Clinton — to make a hasty decision about who will serve as his running mate.
"Everybody needs to settle down, we just completed this arduous process," Obama told CNN's Candy Crowley. "It's only been two days, and I think its not just in my interest and Senator Clinton's interest, but in the Democratic Party's interest and the country's interest, to make sure I make this decision well."
Calling his choice of running mate “the most important decision that I will make before I am president,” the senator from Illinois said he would “be deliberate and systematic about it because this will be my final counselor when I am making decisions in the White House, and I want to make sure I get it right."
Many of Clinton’s supporters have publicly called on Obama to put Clinton on the ticket to help unify the party since he captured the nomination Tuesday night, but Obama said he would not respond to pressure from others on who he should choose.
"We have a committee that's made up of wonderful people. They are going to go through the procedure, and vet, and get recommendations. I will meet with a range of a people, and I will ultimately make a decision.
“I am a big believer in making decision well, not making them fast and not responding to pressure," he also said.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Sen. Joe Lieberman – who has taken on increasingly high-profile campaign roles on behalf of presumptive Republican nominee John McCain – announced Thursday that he was launching and heading a new grassroots organization, "Citizens for McCain," making a direct appeal to Hillary Clinton’s disappointed supporters.
“The phones at the campaign headquarters have been ringing with disaffected Democrats calling to say they believe Senator McCain has the experience, judgment, and bipartisanship necessary to lead our country in these difficult times,” Lieberman wrote in a message sent to the Arizona senator’s supporters. “Many of these supporters are former supporters of Senator Clinton.”
Over the past few weeks, some supporters of Hillary Clinton – whose campaign announced Wednesday that she would be suspending her presidential run this weekend - have said that they would consider voting for McCain if she were not the Democratic nominee.
Lieberman highlighted McCain’s “very good working relationship with Senator Clinton” – which he said would continue in the future – and his comments praising her in a speech at a Louisiana campaign event Wednesday.
Hillary Clinton is offering Barack Obama half a loaf on her way out the door. No joint appearance with the presumptive nominee and their families in prime time – which would be carried live on television. No appearances by folks like Harold Ickes and Terry McAuliffe who ran her campaign telling her supporters to unite behind Obama. No appearance by Bill saying "let bygones be bygones, and I'm going to offer to work hard to get Barack Obama elected."
Instead Senator Clinton is planning a public appearance on Saturday to talk about how "we can rally the party behind Senator Obama. The stakes are too high and the task before us too important to do otherwise."
Meanwhile, it turns out Clinton had to be pushed to get out of the race by several of her Democratic congressional colleagues... and reportedly she didn't even bother to call Obama to tell him of her decision. One more thing, and it's important: Clinton is expected to suspend her campaign instead of dropping out altogether.
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(CNN)–Democrats keep saying the same thing about their party. You hear it all the time in Washington and around the country. If they can’t win the White House this year, they say, the party should seriously think about giving the whole thing up.
To back up the point, they note the horrible job approval numbers for President Bush and his administration. They also note that some 80 percent of the American people right now believe the country is heading in the wrong direction. The economy is hurting at home and the war in Iraq remains very unpopular.
A vote for John McCain, they say, is a vote for a third Bush term. He agrees with the President on how to proceed in Iraq. He also wants to make permanent the Bush tax cuts, which he actually voted against back in 2001 and 2003.
All this explains why so many of these very same clearly frustrated Democrats are having such a hard time understanding why McCain is actually competitive with Obama in the most recent public opinion polls. Our latest CNN poll of polls, our average of the most reliable recent surveys, has Obama at 47 percent to McCain’s 45 percent. That is well within those polls' margins of error. Eight percent, by the way, say they are unsure who they would support.
Obama probably will get a nice bump in the polls in the coming days. That’s because Democrats are starting to unite around him. Hillary Clinton, they say, is likely to be effusive in her praise once she formally suspends her campaign.
But remember – polls are only snapshots. They always change over time, and there’s still five months before Election Day.
(CNN) - Lanny Davis, one of Hillary Clinton's most stalwart supporters, is stepping up his efforts to land Hillary Clinton in the No. 2 spot on the Democratic presidential ticket, joining the group VoteBoth.com as a senior adviser.
The organization was set up several weeks ago by former Clinton aides with the initial mission of landing both candidates on the same ticket, no matter what the order. In recent weeks the group has pivoted to expressly advocating for Clinton to serve in the No. 2 spot.
Co-founder Sam Arora says Davis, who has become a fixture on cable news shows, will be a "terrific advocate."
"He’s going to be out there making the case for how the Obama-Clinton 'dream ticket' puts Democrats in the best place to beat the Republican machine in November," Arora told CNN.
Often appearing on CNN, Davis has been a tenacious advocate for Clinton during the course of the primary season.
Following Obama's speech on his relationship with the Rev. Jeremiah Wright in March, Davis expressed concern on the Huffingtonpost.com that Obama still had not answered several questions about the controversial pastor. In a Wall Street Journal Op-Ed a month later, Davis again pressed the Illinois senator to address "unanswered questions" about his former pastor more fully.
He also wrote an article on the Huffingtonpost.com in April titled "The Top Ten List of Undisputed Facts Showing Barack Obama's Weaknesses in the General Election Against John McCain.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Barack Obama is moving to take leadership of the Democratic Party, installing one of hit top field lieutenants at the Democratic National Committee, along with a sweeping new ban on special interest money.
The campaign announced that Howard Dean would remain head of the DNC, addressing speculation that he might be replaced with a candidate chosen by Obama himself.
Dean’s ambitious effort to build party infrastructure in all 50 states had been met with mixed reviews – criticized by Democrats nervous over the DNC’s dire financial straits, praised by activists determined to compete with Republicans in every area of the country.
"Sen. Obama appreciates the hard work that Chairman Dean has done to grow our party at the grass-roots level and looks forward to working with him as the chairman of the Democratic Party as we go forward," said Obama spokesman Bill Burton.
Dean’s philosophy fits well with Obama’s strategy; massive wins in traditionally red states factored heavily in the Illinois senator’s successful nominating battle, and he won the backing of many Democrats in GOP strongholds who believe his presence on the ballot may prove decisive in down-ticket races this November.
(CNN) - John McCain raised $21.5 million in May, according to his campaign - his best fundraising month to date.
The Arizona senator's previous one-month best was $18 million in April. McCain spokesman Brian Rogers says the campaign currently has $31.5 million cash on hand.
McCain still lags far behind Democrat Barack Obama’s one-month record: in February, the Illinois senator raised $55 million.