(CNN) - New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg blasted unfounded e-mail speculation over Barack Obama’s religion today, calling them “lies” and “wedge politics at its worst,” according to prepared remarks released by his office.
“Of course, in any election, one candidate’s supporters will look to pick holes in the other candidate’s statements – on Israel and everything else. And that’s fine. …,” Bloomberg said in Boca Raton. “But as we do that, let’s make sure that we, as Jews and as voters, keep the conversation focused on the facts and not let it descend into false rumor and innuendo.
“Unfortunately, we’ve already seen that happen. As I’m sure many of you know, there are plenty of emails floating around the Internet targeting Jewish voters and saying that Senator Obama is secretly a Muslim, and a radical one at that. Let’s call those rumors what they are: Lies.”
“They are cloaked in concern for Israel, but the real concern is about partisan politics. Israel is just being used as a pawn, which is not that surprising, since some people are willing to stoop to any level to win an election."
Bloomberg, who has been the object of both presidential and vice presidential speculation this election cycle, also praised McCain for denouncing the rumors.
Earlier this month, both Obama and McCain rejected a proposal by the Independent mayor for a joint townhall to be held in the city.
Barack Obama has become the first major-party candidate to opt out of public financing since Watergate.
It's no big surprise. When it comes to fund-raising, Obama is a virtual ATM machine. Candidates who take public financing get about $85 million to spend in the 2 months before the general election. But, if Obama can tap into the 1.5 million donors who contributed to him during the primaries along with Hillary Clinton's donors, some predict he could raise as much as $500 million – which would put him at a tremendous advantage over John McCain, who says he'll take public financing.
Experts say Obama could use this money to run a national ad campaign similar to marketing drives run by companies like McDonald's and Nike. He'll also be able to compete in Republican states, where the GOP rarely gets competition.
The downside for Obama is he's opened himself up to charges of hypocrisy. Last year he vowed to work with the Republican nominee to "preserve a publicly financed general election." And he's now drawing fire from both friends and foes for this change of heart.
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WASHINGTON (CNN) - In an election that's been indelibly shaped by the Internet, veepstakes speculation is alive and well on Facebook, world's sixth most-trafficked Web site.
Among Democrats on the popular social networking site, Hillary Clinton is far and away the favorite to be tapped as Barack Obama's running mate. For John McCain, Mike Huckabee leads the prospective vice presidential pack.
More than 3,000 Facebook members have joined over 40 groups supporting Clinton for vice president, though most of the groups were originally formed to push for an Obama-Clinton unity ticket during the long primary battle. Once Clinton dropped out, many of these Facebook groups started pushing for her to be tapped as Obama's running mate.
Clinton is trailed by John Edwards, who is backed by 18 groups with nearly 2,000 members. He's followed by Bill Richardson with 514 Facebook supporters, putting the New Mexico governor slightly ahead of Joe Biden, who has 510 fans hoping Obama puts him on the ticket.
The Democratic frontrunners are followed, in descending order, by Jim Webb, Kathleen Sebelius, Al Gore, Wes Clark, Chuck Hagel, Evan Bayh, Mark Warner, Claire McCaskill and Janet Napolitano.
Three students at an all-girls Catholic high school in Houston are rooting for Obama to tap long shot Democratic candidate Mike Gravel. And one 18-member Facebook group, launched in February of last year, is holding out hope that Obama will choose Bill Clinton as his running mate.
(CNN) - A presidential rival is fundraising off of Barack Obama’s decision to reject public financing for the general election, using the move to fuel allegations the presumptive Democratic nominee is a policy-shifting flip-flopper.
But it isn’t John McCain.
Ralph Nader’s campaign sent an e-mail to supporters Friday that paints Obama as too close to big business and special interests. “Ralph Nader stands for shifting the power from the big corporations back to the people. Period. Full stop. End of story,” writes the Nader campaign. “Contrast that with Senator Obama.”
The message highlights what it says are changes in the Illinois senator’s positions on public spending limits, NAFTA and economic populism, and says that Obama has surrounded himself with “veterans of the military industrial complex status quo.” It does not mention his Republican counterpart, John McCain.
“We're at six percent nationwide in the most recent CNN poll. We're going to be on ten state ballots by the end of June. And we're shooting for 40 by the end of the summer,” writes the Nader campaign. “Together, we are moving forward. And together, we will make a difference in November.”
Barack Obama’s lead over John McCain increased by one point in the most recent CNN national poll when Nader, a perennial presidential contender, was included as one of the options.
(CNN) - John McCain's campaign is striking back after a top staffer for Iowa Governor Chet Culver said Thursday that the Democratic governor had unsuccessfully asked the Arizona senator to avoid making a scheduled campaign trip to the flood-ravaged state.
Patrick Dillon, Culver’s chief of staff, said in a statement there had been worries McCain's arrival would put a strain on already-overtaxed area law enforcement. The presumptive Republican nominee visited several hard-hit towns in the state Thursday.
President Bush also visited Iowa Thursday.
A McCain aide said the campaign took steps to avoid burdening any flood recovery efforts. “We worked with the local authorities to make certain we weren’t getting in the way. We’d be happy to put you in touch with the local mayor and sheriff who were part of our tour,” a McCain aide told CNN and pointed to an AP-reported comment from the mayor of the town of Columbus Junction, Iowa that McCain’s Thursday visit had not posed any difficulties.
“The governor never called the campaign to express this concern,” the McCain aide added.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - A former Bush spokesman said Friday he did not think the president knew about the leak of a CIA agent's identity, but refused to give the same assurances about Vice President Dick Cheney.
"I do not think the president had any knowledge" of the revelation of Valerie Plame Wilson's identity, Scott McClellan said at a House Judiciary committee hearing. "In terms of the vice president, I do not know."
McClellan said the White House is still concealing information about its role in the leak of a CIA agent's identity.
"This matter continues to be investigated by Congress because of what the White House has chosen to conceal from the public," McClellan said. "Despite assurances that the administration would discuss the matter once the Special Counsel had completed his work, the White House has sought to avoid public scrutiny and accountability."
(CNN) - Senators Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton will hit the trail together for the first time next week, the Illinois senator’s campaign announced Friday.
The joint campaigning will come one day after a Thursday Democratic fundraiser that will mark the first time they have appeared together publicly since the New York senator ended her presidential bid.
Earlier this week, the presumptive Democratic nominee said he had not spoken with Clinton recently.
"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.
The Obama campaign said further details of the pair’s itinerary would be released shortly.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - John McCain’s campaign is denying an account by staffers on Barack Obama’s team that the rival campaigns had been involved in discussions over whether or not they would accept public funds.
Obama counsel Bob Bauer said Thursday he had met with Trevor Potter, his counterpart on the McCain team, on June 6 to discuss a possible joint townhall appearance later in the month, and that the two discussed the public funding issue for 45 minutes.
“I asked him to address a [series] of issues of concern to the Obama campaign–the McCain campaign's active raising and spending of private money since February for a general election campaign, including for media, while we were still in the middle of a primary contest,” said Bauer in a statement. “He gave me his perspectives–the best arguments he could offer for an agreement on both sides to accept public financing–and it was clear to me that these offered no basis for any further exchange.”
McCain spokeswoman Jill Hazelbaker flatly said Thursday that Bauer “never negotiated with Potter about public financing.”
Others in the McCain camp said that Obama’s staffers are “libeling” their attorney, and lying about the discussion – that the two counsels were meeting on a separate topic entirely, and that there were no negotiations on public finance.
(UPDATED with response from the McCain campaign, after the jump)
Compiled by Mary Grace Lucas
CNN Washington Bureau
AP: Williams to do `Meet the Press' Sunday
Top NBC anchorman Brian Williams will host the next "Meet the Press" but the network hasn't chosen who will permanently replace Tim Russert, an NBC News spokeswoman said Thursday.
Washington Post: McCain Raises Money the Hard Way
John McCain's campaign treated the news of Barack Obama abandoning the public financing system with the expected disdain, calling it evidence that Obama is "just another typical politician who will do and say whatever is most expedient for Barack Obama."
Chicago Tribune: Without public funding, sky's the limit for Obama
'Raising a half-billion dollars is a very realistic figure for him,' strategist says.
NY Times: For Bush, a New Town, a New Disaster, but Always the Memory of New Orleans
Try as he might, President Bush cannot escape the haunting memory of Hurricane Katrina. Mr. Bush toured flood-stricken areas here on Thursday, the latest in a string of disaster-zone visits he has made in his role as comforter in chief.
CNN: House approves war funding plan
Military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan would be funded into early 2009 under a compromise plan approved Thursday by the U.S. House.
Compiled by Mary Grace Lucas, CNN Washington Bureau
* Sen. John McCain gives an afternoon speech at Chateau Laurier in Ottawa, Canada.
* Sen. Barack Obama holds a morning economic discussion with Democratic governors at Chicago History Museum in Chicago, IL.