WASHINGTON (CNN) - Sen. John McCain on Wednesday blasted presidential rival Sen. Barack Obama’s controversial statement in April about “bitter” Pennsylvania voters.
In a town hall meeting in Philadelphia, McCain said he doesn’t agree that voters in the state “cling to their religion and the Constitution because they are bitter. I am going to tell them that they have faith and they have trust and support the Constitution of the United States because they have optimism and hope and that is the strength of America.”
McCain was referring to remarks Obama made before the state’s April 22 primary that decades of lost jobs and unfulfilled promises from Washington have left some Pennsylvanians "bitter" and clinging "to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren't like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations."
Democratic rival Sen. Hillary Clinton used Obama’s words to attack him as out of touch with Pennsylvanians. Obama later said that the remarks were badly phrased, but accurate.
McCain made it clear that he will “compete and win” and even “carry this state” in the general election – a state that has voted for the Democratic candidate in the last two presidential elections.
“I will carry this state and I will be the next president of the United States.”
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Sen. Jim Webb of Virginia – someone widely considered to be on the shortlist as a possible running mate with Sen. Barack Obama – again defended his views on the Confederacy during an interview with CNN’s John Roberts.
Webb has argued in an essay, his book, and in a 1990 speech that the issue of state sovereignty rather than slavery was the "driving issue" for Confederate soldiers in fighting in the Civil War.
Many historians, however, have argued that slavery, not states’ rights, was the motivating force behind the Civil War.
In his interview with CNN, Webb said his comments about the Confederacy were as a historian dealing with a complex subject.
"Only 5 percent of the whites owned slaves in the height of slavery," Webb said. "The people in the North were never asked to give up their slaves even with the Emancipation Proclamation.
"Looking at military service as a citizen during that time, the issue was loyalty to your community, the same way it is when people are being sent to Iraq today," Webb said. "And that's a complicated issue. It's being obviously simplified in some form but I'm happy to discuss it and comfortable with my views on it."
Webb was criticized for his views on the Confederacy during his Senate run in 2006. Now that Webb’s name is being circulated as a potential running mate, the blogosphere is again raising concerns that Webb may be unacceptable to voters if invited to join the Democratic ticket.
The Virginia Democrat is seen as an attractive complement to Sen. Obama given his opposition to the Iraq war and strong national security credentials. Webb, a Vietnam veteran and a former secretary of the Navy under President Ronald Reagan, however, said during his CNN interview that he was not seeking his party's vice presidential nomination.
(CNN) - Following a harsh press assessment of John McCain's recent formal speeches delivered before a teleprompter, the Arizona senator is returning to a format in which he is decidedly more comfortable.
McCain is slated to hold a town-hall with voters in Philadelphia Wednesday and hold town halls with voters for the rest of the week. McCain’s event in Philadelphia was originally planned to be a scripted speech, but the campaign scrapped those plans after a wave of harsh critiques over a bright green screen that backed him last Tuesday, and the stiffness of his delivery when using a teleprompter.
(CNN)—Former presidential candidate Mitt Romney Wednesday echoed presumptive Republican presidential nominee John McCain’s criticism of Barack Obama’s economic strategy comparing it to the ‘failed’ policy pursued by former President Jimmy Carter.
“Frankly, as I look at Barack Obama what he proposing is very much like what Jimmy Carter proposed,” Romney said of Obama’s economic plan. “And that of course led to a disastrous economy.”
For months, McCain’s presidential campaign has been trying to compare Obama’s economic pitch to what Washington sought to enact in the 1960’s and 1970’s.
“I will leave it to my opponent to propose returning to the failed, big government mandates of the sixties and seventies,” McCain said during a March speech in Texas.
Again Tuesday, while speaking to the National Small Business Summit, the presumptive nominee said voters have a ‘distinct’ choice in November.
“Will we go back to the policies of the '60s and '70s that failed or will we go forward?” The Arizona senator said.
(CNN) - On the same day Democratic leaders stressed party unity after the drawn out primary fight, one congressional Democrat said Tuesday he will not endorse Barack Obama's bid for the White House.
Rep. Dan Boren, Oklahoma's lone Democrat in Congress, told the Associated Press Obama is "the most liberal senator," and said he has to listen to the wishes of his own constituents.
"We're much more conservative," Boren said of his rural district which stretches across the eastern part of the state and borders Kansas, Missouri, Arkansas, and Texas.
"I've got to reflect my district. No one means more to me than the people who elected me. I have to listen to them," Boren added. His congressional office confirmed the accuracy of the quotes to CNN.
Boren also said Obama's record "does not reflect working in a bipartisan fashion." But the Oklahoma Democrat said he would vote for Obama at the party's convention in August because of the serious issues the country faces.
"I think this is an important time for our country," he said. "We're facing a terrible economic downturn. We have high gasoline prices. We have problems in our foreign policy. That's why I think it's important."
Boren's comments come a day after Florida Democratic Rep. Tim Mahoney also said he has no plans to make a formal endorsement. The freshman Democrat, who replaced Republican Rep. Mark Foley following House page scandal, told the Palm Beach Post he plans on remaining an uncommitted superdelegate and may not even attend the convention.
PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colorado (CNN) - No matter who winds up being the next president, he is likely to "take a sensible approach" to the Iraq war, Defense Secretary Robert Gates told CNN in an exclusive interview Tuesday.
"Based on what I read in the newspapers, I think either person who is elected president is going to come in and take a close look at it," Gates said of the situation in Iraq.
The two presumptive nominees for the major political parties - Republican Sen. John McCain and Democrat Sen. Barack Obama - have greatly differing positions on the war in Iraq.
McCain supports President Bush's current strategy and has said he is willing to continue the deployment of U.S. troops in Iraq until the country has reached a level of political stability.
Obama, on the other hand, has vowed to begin a withdrawal of combat troops almost immediately after he would take office in January, if he wins this fall.
The defense chief also said the next president would receive the blame if the "endgame" is not handled correctly.
"I've said repeatedly we can't get the endgame wrong. The next president would suffer the greatest consequences if we do get the endgame wrong, so I think whoever's elected is likely to take a fairly sensible approach to it," he said.
(CNN) - John McCain is planning a journey within the next month that will take him to the country's Western Hemisphere neighbors
The itinerary has not been entirely nailed down, but currently includes stops in Canada, Mexico and Colombia.
Those nations have all negotiated trade deals with the United States, although Colombia's agreement – which became a lightning rod during this year's Democratic presidential primaries – has met fierce resistance on Capitol Hill, and has not yet received congressional approval.
Border issues and illegal immigration have been among the most vexing political issues this cycle, especially for McCain. His support for a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants almost fatally wounded his GOP primary bid; it was only after he said "lesson learned" and promised to secure the border first that many Republican voters decided to give him a second chance.
The trip will be McCain's second since effectively claiming the Republican nomination. Earlier this spring, the Arizona senator visited Europe and the Middle East, including a stop in Iraq.
Compiled by Mary Grace Lucas
CNN Washington Bureau
NY Times: 2 New-Style Candidates Hit Old Notes on the Economy
For all the efforts of Senators John McCain and Barack Obama to portray themselves as willing to break with party orthodoxy to get things done, the economic debate that opened their general election campaign this week previews a classic clash. It is a battle between Republican supply-side economics and a Democratic tradition that uses government levers to try to reduce inequality and spur the economy.
CNN: Gates: Next president likely to take 'sensible approach' to Iraq
No matter who winds up being the next president, he is likely to "take a sensible approach" to the Iraq war, Defense Secretary Robert Gates told CNN in an exclusive interview Tuesday.
USA Today: Dems reluctant to take on 'don't ask, don't tell'
Democrats say the nation should be ashamed of its ban on gays serving openly in the military. It discourages qualified people from joining the ranks at a time when the armed forces are stretched by two wars, they say, and is degrading to those willing to serve their country. So what have the Democrats done about it? Nothing, really.
CNN: Gergen: Advice to Obama: Take a break
The fight between Barack Obama and John McCain over the economy is warming up so fast that it almost matches the blistering heat up and down the East Coast.
Compiled by Mary Grace Lucas, CNN Washington Bureau
* Sen. John McCain holds a town hall meeting in Philidelphia, PA.
* Sen. Barack Obama has no public events.