(CNN) - Are Sens. Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton going to tackle the general election campaign trail together between now and November? Their upcoming ‘unity tour’ planned for Friday suggests so.
In the latest installment of CNN = Politics Daily, Senior Political Correspondent Candy Crowley discusses the Clintons' role as the general election campaign heats up.
Meanwhile, Sen. John McCain talked energy Wednesday and the need for America to develop a new policy. CNN’s Dana Bash explains the senator’s plan to reach energy independence by the year 2025.
Not to be overshadowed, Sen. Obama held a press conference attacking McCain’s energy policy as “meaningless.”
Plus: June may mark the start of summer, but analysis of the 2008 White House race has been raging for months. Senior Political Analyst Bill Schneider assesses the significance of new June poll results by tracing the predictive accuracy of June poll numbers in previous election cycles.
Finally: Speculation about the vice presidential picks is all over the Web. Internet Reporter Abbi Tatton explains how some individuals might benefit financially from the McCain-Obama veepstakes.
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WASHINGTON (CNN) – Obama campaign manager David Plouffe held a press conference at the Democratic National Committee headquarters on Wednesday to illustrate the campaign’s path to victory in November.
Plouffe said that the primary goal is to hold on to the 20 states that John Kerry won, netting him 252 electoral votes. To win the additional 18 needed to reach 270 for the victory, Plouffe outlined a variety of strategies and initiatives, several already underway.
He emphasized a likely victory in Iowa, believing that the momentum created by the January caucus victory could hold and add seven votes to the Obama column.
Plouffe said that contrary to popular belief, victory in Ohio and Florida isn’t necessary to reach 270 but that they would “fight like heck” for the pair.
He pointed to two previously solid Republican states – North Carolina and Virginia – as examples of states they think can be turned blue, saying they plan to put some of their best staff there and if they win either on top of the Kerry states and Iowa, it’s “game, set, match.”
Despite claiming to not put much stock in many national and state polls, Plouffe noted recent polls in important swing states like Michigan, Pennsylvania, Florida and Ohio to emphasize the number of ways of reaching 270.
CHICAGO, Illinois (CNN) - Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama says he disagrees with a Supreme Court decision striking down the death penalty for child rapists, telling reporters Wednesday that states should be able to execute people for "heinous" crimes.
"I think that the rape of small child, 6 or 8 years old, is a heinous crime," the Illinois senator said. "And if a state makes a decision that under narrow, limited, well-defined circumstances the death penalty is at least potentially applicable, that does not violate our Constitution."
The Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that capital punishment can be applied only to murderers, striking down a death sentence for a Louisiana man convicted of sexually assaulting his 8-year-old stepdaughter.
The convict, Patrick Kennedy, would have been the first rapist in 44 years to be executed for a crime in which the victim was not killed.
Obama previously has said he believes the death penalty should be available to states, but that it must be applied fairly.
(CNN) - Ralph Nader's presidential candidacy has received little media attention, but his latest critique of Barack Obama has come under fire for it's seemingly racial overtones.
Speaking with Colorado's Rocky Mountain News, Nader accused Obama of attempting to both "talk white" and appeal to "white guilt" in his quest to win the White House.
"There's only one thing different about Barack Obama when it comes to being a Democratic presidential candidate. He's half African-American," Nader told the paper in comments published Tuesday. "Whether that will make any difference, I don't know. I haven't heard him have a strong crackdown on economic exploitation in the ghettos. Payday loans, predatory lending, asbestos, lead. What's keeping him from doing that? Is it because he wants to talk white? He doesn't want to appear like Jesse Jackson? We'll see all that play out in the next few months and if he gets elected afterwards."
Obama's presidential campaign called those comments disappointing, and his communication's director, Robert Gibbs, said Tuesday they were "reprehensible and basically delusional."
"I don't think he's spent a lot of time looking at the record of Barack Obama," Gibbs said on MSNBC.
Nader, the longtime consumer advocate who was blamed by many Democrats for Al Gore’s loss in the 2000 presidential election, said Obama's top issue should be poverty in America, given his racial heritage.
(CNN) – The battle over energy policy between Sens. John McCain and Barack Obama has ventured into the realm of online video.
A new 40-second web ad launched by the McCain camp Wednesday portrays Obama as “Dr. No,” a label McCain’s campaign debuted Tuesday to represent Obama’s opposition to many of the Arizona senator’s energy policies.
In an homage to the cinematic style associated with the opening of James Bond films, the ad uses background music reminiscent of Bond films and portrays Obama in several settings that all have graphics of the word “No” in the background. The spot also features audio of Obama discussing his positions on a number of energy policy issues.
(full script after the jump)
NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) - It's the $64,000 question on Capitol Hill this week: what is responsible for the record escalation on oil prices?
Speculators have taken much of the blame. But on Wednesday, one of the nation's leading energy analysts said that it's more complicated than that and the cause is multi-faceted.
"In such circumstances as these, there is a tendency to seek a single explanation," said Daniel Yergin, in testimony before the Joint Economic Committee. "History, however, demonstrates that changes of this scale and significance result not from a single cause, but rather from a confluence of factors.
Barack Obama is widening his lead over John McCain in early polling. A new Los Angeles Times-Bloomberg poll shows Obama topping McCain by 12 points – 49% to 37% – in a two-man race. If you include third-party candidates Ralph Nader and Bob Barr, Obama leads McCain by 15 points. A recent Newsweek poll also shows Obama up by 15.
CNN's poll of polls reflects this growing gap as well, with Obama now leading McCain by 8 points – 48% to 40%. That's double the 4-point lead Obama held in this average of polls less than two weeks ago.
Obama's lead may be due in part to his positions on domestic issues, with many voters saying he'd do a better job than McCain handling healthcare, taxes and the economy, the nation's number one issue. McCain once said he's not an expert on the economy. He continues to insist that the fundamentals of the economy are very strong.
McCain is also lagging behind when it comes to the passion of voters.
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(CNN) - There are two intriguing third party candidates running for president his year: Ralph Nader and Bob Barr. Both are well known here in Washington. But will they have an impact around the country if the election between Barack Obama and John McCain is close?
Nader, a long time populist and liberal consumer advocate, has been here before. He won more than 90,000 votes in the Florida election in 2000 and was widely accused of helping George W. Bush beat Al Gore by just more than 500 votes in the state. Gore’s supporters believe that he would have won the state and the election if Nader had stayed out. Nader denies that, insisting he took votes from both Democrats and Republicans.
Barr is a former Republican Congressman from Georgia and is now running on the Libertarian Party ticket. In the House of Representatives, he was always an outspoken conservative. He took the lead in initiating impeachment charges against President Bill Clinton.
Given that conservative track record, he is likely to take votes away from McCain, especially in Georgia where he is relatively well-known.
Obama’s supporters are hoping he does. They believe Georgia is fertile ground for the Democratic candidate, especially if the Democrats can register hundreds of thousands of new young and African American voters in the state.
So let’s see how Nader and Barr do this time around.
(CNN)—Sen. John McCain’s campaign is moving ahead with its plans for a weekly town hall debate even though rival Sen. Barack Obama declined the invitation, but the Arizona senator isn’t taking the easy way out - he’s filling his audience with undecided voters.
“We are looking to appeal to people to come to our town halls who have yet to make up their mind. And are not affiliated with either party,” McCain campaign spokesman Tucker Bounds told CNN.
To do so, the campaign hired Direct Response Group of Phoenix to reach out to specific communities in search of those undecided, unaffiliated voters who are interested in attending the event.
Unlike some presidential candidates of the past, the goal is to create a forum where the audience is not hand picked so that “everyday Americans are able to ask the serious questions, instead of staged, controlled events,” said Bounds.
The McCain’s campaign plans to pay the organization between $8,000 and $10,000 for a town hall once a week leading up to the convention.
The audiences are filled with 150 to 300 undecided voters with the exception of a few “key supporters,” and local public officials who have endorsed the Arizona senators presidential bid.
LAS VEGAS (CNN) - John McCain pledged Wednesday that “in a world of hostile and unstable suppliers of oil,” the United States will achieve “strategic independence” from foreign oil by the year 2025.
For the first time, McCain labeled his energy plan "The Lexington Project."
Watch: McCain promotes 'The Lexington Project'
“Remember that name,” he told an audience at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas. “Named for the town where Americans asserted their independence once before.”
National security, he said, makes it imperative to wean the nation off its foreign energy needs.
“Energy security is a vital question because it concerns America's most fundamental interests, and above all the safety of our citizens from the violence of the world,” he said.
“All the tact of diplomacy cannot conceal a blunt reality. When we buy foreign oil, we are enriching some of our worst enemies. And in the Middle East, Venezuela, and elsewhere, these regimes know how to use the power of that wealth.”
McCain’s speech was an amalgam of the energy policy prescriptions that he has outlined in recent days on the campaign trail. He called for developing green technologies, building 45 new nuclear reactors, expanding clean coal research, and upgrading existing infrastructure.