(CNN)—Politicians and journalists alike paused Wednesday to pay final respects at the funeral of NBC’s Tim Russert. In the latest installment of CNN=Politics Daily, Wolf Blitzer talks with CNN Washington Bureau Chief David Bohrman about the unexpected truce between campaign rivals John McCain and Barack Obama at services honoring Russert Wednesday.
But when the pair weren’t paying their last respects, the gloves remained off. CNN’s Dana Bash has the details on the latest foreign policy dust-up involving several campaign surrogates.
New polls show Obama gaining in crucial swing states. Senior Political Analyst Bill Schneider does the math.
Plus: CNN made some important changes to its electoral map. You’ll want to see what important state now swings blue.
Finally: Both President Bush and John McCain are calling for Congress to lift the ban on offshore drilling as a way to address the nation’s soaring gas prices. CNN’s Brian Todd has your fact check on what impact that move would really have at the pump.
Click here to subscribe to CNN=Politics Daily.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Barack Obama said Wednesday he has not spoken with former rival Hillary Clinton recently.
After a Washington campaign event, the presumptive Democratic nominee was asked by reporters when he last spoke to the New York senator - and how he plans to deflect critiques of his foreign policy inexperience that she made during the primary season, and McCain is now repeating.
"I have not had conversations with Senator Clinton because she has been getting a well-deserved vacation. And, we will be speaking I think in the next few days…certainly within the next week, and we’ll be having an ongoing conversation," said Obama. "But if you look at my positions and Senator Clinton’s, there is not a lot of difference which is why it’s so easy for advisers, senior advisers, of Senator Clinton to support my candidacy."
Clinton and Obama are set to appear together at a Democratic fundraiser next week.
The McCain campaign has spent the past few days criticizing Obama's national security and foreign policy positions, with surrogates painting Obama as inexperienced and naïve.
(CNN)— Michelle Obama said Wednesday she was “touched” First Lady Laura Bush came to her defense when her patriotism was questioned.
“There’s a reason why people like [the first lady],” Obama said on ABC’s The View. “She doesn’t fuel the fire.”
Earlier this year at a campaign event Michelle Obama said, "For the first time in my adult life, I'm really proud of my country.”
WATCH Michelle Obama respond to questions of her patriotism
Laura Bush told ABC last week the remarks must have been misinterpreted.
"I think she probably meant 'I'm more proud,'" said the first lady, adding that "you have to be very careful in what you say" when you’re campaigning.
"That's one of the things you learn and that's one of the really difficult parts both of running for president, and for being the spouse of the president, and that is everything you say is looked and in many cases misconstrued."
Obama said Wednesday she had sent The First Lady a note that took her “a while” to write, but wouldn’t divulge any details because she didn’t know whether it had been received yet.
Related: McCain: Treat our wives with respect
Click here for CNN's lay of the land.
(CNN) - Pennsylvania has swung into Obama's column in the new CNN Electoral College Map.
"The Quinnipiac poll in Pennsylvania indicates that Obama may not have a problem carrying states that he lost to Hillary Clinton during the primary season, regardless of the chatter on that topic back in April," said CNN Polling Director Keating Holland.
Holland added that the addition of the traditional fall battleground to the Obama column moves the Illinois Senator from seven electoral votes behind McCain to 17 votes ahead, but that the more important number is 59 - the number of electoral votes Obama still needs to win the White House, assuming every state that is now in his column goes for him in November.
"It will take at least three 'toss-up' states for Obama to reach the 270 needed to become the next president," said Holland.
Be sure to check here to get the full CNN interactive Electoral College map.
The map is based on analysis of several factors, including polling, voting trends, ad spending, candidate visits, and guidance from the campaigns and political strategists.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - In addition to meeting with the Congressional Black Caucus Thursday, Obama is also planning to meet with female members of Congress at the Democratic National Committee, according to several congressional sources.
One Democratic aide described the lunchtime meeting with the legislators as a follow-up to one Obama had last week with 28 female members of Congress - roughly half Clinton supporters and half Obama supporters - at Rep. Rosa DeLauro’s home. The aide said the Obama campaign is organizing Thursday's meeting and it’s open to “any female Member of Congress who wants to attend.”
(CNN) - An Arab-American civil rights group sent a letter to Barack Obama asking him to personally respond to reports Wednesday that two women were denied the opportunity to stand behind the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee on stage at a campaign event because they were wearing traditional Muslim head scarves.
The Politico, a Washington-based Web site devoted to politics, reported Wednesday that Obama campaign volunteers refused to allow two women attending a rally in Michigan Monday the chance to stand behind the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee. The paper said one woman was asked to remove her head scarf, and cited political considerations in keeping the other from joining Obama on stage.
The Obama campaign moved quickly Wednesday to defuse the situation by stating the incidents did not reflect campaign policy. "It is offensive and counter to Obama's commitment to bring Americans together and simply not the kind of campaign we run. We sincerely apologize for this behavior," said spokesman Bill Burton, in a statement sent to reporters Wednesday afternoon
The e-mail also contained photos of women in Muslim head scarves attending Obama rallies and standing behind the candidate on stage.
Watch CNN's Wolf Blitzer and David Bohrman discuss what transpired between Sens. Obama and McCain at Tim Russert's funeral mass Wednesday.
WASHINGTON (CNN) – It was a pretty amazing sight. John McCain and Barack Obama came to Tim Russert’s funeral mass today here in Washington. The fact that they took time out from their campaigns to do so was already impressive, and certainly a lovely tribute to Tim. But they also did more. They wound up sitting right next to each other during the 90 minute service.
Before the service started, they were chatting rather amiably and intensely for 15-20 minutes. Those of us who were invited to the Holy Trinity Church in Georgetown were impressed that Tim, even in his tragic and untimely death, was able to bring these two presidential candidates together.
It was a powerful statement of Tim’s unique role here in Washington.
Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, who presided over the gathering, warmly welcomed McCain and Obama. He spoke eloquently about Tim’s faith, family and journalistic profession.
So did Tim’s remarkable 22-year-old son, Luke, who delivered some beautiful Words of Remembrance. He told them what his dad would have told them: the American public wants their presidential candidates to discuss the most important issues of the day and not get bogged down with trivial personal attacks.
Luke also said that his dad was often so irritated when politicians refused to acknowledge they had changed their minds on important policy issues. There’s nothing wrong, Luke said, in someone’s changing his or her mind. He’s right of course. Obama and McCain were clearly paying attention.
I suspect those strong words will have an impact on these two presidential candidates in the coming weeks and months.
(CNN) – New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, a supporter of Sen. Barack Obama, backed the Democratic Party’s new standard-bearer in a growing dust-up between the McCain and Obama camps over how to wage the war on terrorism.
Asked by CNN’s Wolf Blitzer whether al Qaeda suspects should be given the same rights that American citizens enjoy in U.S. courts, Richardson said he “totally” disagrees with the Bush administration’s policy of treating terrorism detainees as enemy combatants and treating them differently than defendants in typical criminal cases. “We have to protect our country from terrorists but we don’t have to be like them by abridging our own freedoms,” Richardson added.
WATCH Bill Richardson's interview from The Situation Room
The former presidential candidate, who served as Energy Secretary under President Clinton, also waded into a second dispute between the two presumptive nominees over energy policy. “In the Clinton administration, we pushed for renewable energy, for fuel efficiency. We should have pushed harder,” Richardson said. “I’m the first to say that both Republican and Democratic administrations have not come forth with a sustainable, long term energy policy,” he added.
Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton are set to appear together next week in Washington – side-by-side – for the first time since the long and sometimes nasty primary battle came to an end. It's an important moment, since some Democrats are still bitter about the way it ended.
The two will meet to try to get some of Clinton's top contributors to support Obama. Some of Clinton's supporters say that fund-raisers have complained because they don't think their concerns were being heard during meetings with the Obama camp. The donors apparently want to make sure Obama knows he needs to help Clinton pay down her campaign debt – estimated at more than $20 million – if he wants their support.
To read more and contribute to the Cafferty File discussion click here
Facebook users who add the McCain campaign's new application to their profiles can watch a video tour of the Straight Talk Expess campaign bus. Photo credit: John McCain 2008/www.facebook.com.
(CNN) – John McCain’s campaign has launched its first official Facebook application. Dubbed “Campaign Cribs: The Straight Talk Express,” the new tool allows users to watch Davis White, the director of the McCain camp’s advance team, as he gives a video tour of the presumptive Republican nominee’s campaign bus.
The launch of McCain’s application on one of the Web’s dominant social networking sites comes one day after presumptive Democratic nominee Barack Obama crossed a Facebook milestone – by signing up his one millionth supporter on the site.
In the 18 months since Obama began his presidential bid, his campaign’s Facebook application and other uses of social networking media have been credited with helping build an online bond between the Illinois senator and his younger supporters.
Obama currently has around 1,004,000 supporters signed up on Facebook and McCain has about 147,000 supporters on the social networking site.