ACCRA, Ghana (CNN) - "All I want is for my children to get the best education they can."
That statement, along with so many others, has been a consistent one that I've heard on my radio show and in discussions with parents for years, especially those whose children are stuck in inner-city schools with decrepit buildings and a lack of critical resources.
And for the past 20 years, one of the most talked-about solutions for parents stuck in dead-end, failing schools is to give them the option to use vouchers to send their children someplace where they could get a quality education.
OMAHA, Nebraska (CNN) - John McCain has made a recent habit of telling audiences at his fundraisers that he is “the underdog in this race.”
But is he so far behind Barack Obama that he’ll spend serious time and money competing in …Nebraska?
"We are the underdog," McCain said at a finance event in Ashland, Nebraska Wednesday night. "We are not taking the state of Nebraska for granted. I’m going to campaign here and compete here and I need your help. We need to organize. We need to get out the vote. We’ve got a headwind because our economy’s tough.”
According to the CNN Electoral Map, Nebraska is solidly red, a “safe” state for McCain. The state hasn’t voted for a Democrat in a presidential election since the Lyndon Johnson landslide of 1964.
It’s one of two states, along with Maine, that splits its electoral votes according to congressional districts – one vote for each of the state’s three congressional districts, with two more votes allocated to the state winner.
(CNN)–It’s impossible these days to put the nozzle of a gas pump into your car without wondering just how deeply into our wallets the attached hose goes. With each increasingly precious drop of fuel, it seems, we are sucking the life out of the engine of the American economy. How serious might it get? Listen to the words of Congressman John Peterson (R-Pennsylvania), who says the crisis over oil prices “is more important and threatening to America’s future than terrorism.”
I asked the Congressman about that on today’s American Morning program. He contends that high oil prices are destroying the middle class and that there is no urgency in Washington to do anything about it. In much the same way that the early warning signs about Al-Qaeda were ignored while terrorists infiltrated American society, Peterson believes elected officials are standing by as the insidious effects of rising oil prices are eroding the very foundation of our prosperity. And in the same way that America launched a global war on terror, Peterson believes a similar mobilization effort must be taken to drastically reduce the nation’s dependence on foreign oil.
Many people have talked about the need for the energy equivalent of a “moon-shot,” or Manhattan Project-style effort to render the fossil fuel-based economy obsolete. While nothing of the sort has so far happened, Peterson is hoping to build a bi-partisan coalition in the House to at least take some kind of action. This morning, he talked to me about tax breaks to help Americans become more energy efficient (to get rid of old cars and old furnaces), increased funding for renewable fuels and a new push to tap vast reserves of shale oil in the west.
And – somewhat surprising for a Republican – he doesn’t want to drill in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. He feels it’s politically radioactive, so why bother wasting time fighting that battle?
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Barack Obama's campaign raised $52 million last month, more than twice the amount of funds brought in by his rival, John McCain, according to campaign officials for the presumed Democratic presidential nominee.
Obama's campaign now has $72 million cash on hand, the term used to describe how much money they currently have to spend, campaign officials said Thursday.
The average donation to Obama in June was $68, the officials said, bringing the monthly total to more than twice the $22 million raised in May. Meanwhile, the Democratic National Committee reports it raised over $22 million in June - bringing the total cash-on-hand held by Obama and the DNC to $92 million.
At that time, the Illinois senator was still locked in a fierce primary battle with Sen. Hillary Clinton for the Democratic presidential nomination, and Obama was spending more time campaigning for votes and delegates than simply fundraising.
With the conclusion of the primaries in early June and Clinton's suspension of her campaign just days later, Obama's campaign cash numbers had been expected to rise in June.
McCain's campaign raised $22 million in June, its best month yet. The campaign said that combined with the Republican National Committee, they have about $95 million cash on hand.
Earlier: McCain camp says GOP has $95 million
In a fundraising e-mail to supporters, Obama Campaign Manager David Plouffe acknowledged the deficit, saying that “McCain and the RNC together still have a huge cash advantage, and we need your help to close the gap.”
Obama has opted out of using public financing for his campaign, but McCain is accepting federal funds. That means at the conclusion of the political conventions in September, McCain will get about $85 million in public funds to spend on his campaign until Election Day, November 4th.
OMAHA, Nebraska (CNN) - John McCain said he's pleased Chuck Hagel is accompanying Barack Obama to the Middle East because the Nebraska senator - although "wrong" on Iraq - has military experience and has made "an informed decision" about the war.
McCain was peppered with questions about Hagel while campaigning in Nebraska Wednesday evening.
Speaking to reporters after meeting workers a trucking company, McCain again called it "remarkable" that Obama would give a major policy speech on Iraq and Afghanistan without first traveling to those countries or consulting with Gen. David Petraeus.
The presumptive nominee said he is "pleased" that Obama will be accompanied by Hagel, "who has military experience, who has knowledge of these issues."
"Senator Hagel is wrong," McCain said. But, he added: "Senator Hagel has visited Iraq. Senator Hagel has made an informed decision. Senator Hagel, although I disagree with some of his conclusions, the fact is that Senator Obama has never examined the issue carefully, at least from the standpoint of sitting down and discussing the situation with the commanding officer on the ground."
McCain also responded to speculation that Hagel could be tapped as Obama's running mate.
"Look," he said, "I don't know anything about that, except to say Chuck Hagel is a distinguished veteran and a very dear and close friend of mine, who I cherish his friendship for many, many years."
(CNN) - Evan Bayh and Sam Nunn wanted to focus on Barack Obama's national security credentials Wednesday. The traveling press corps trailing the presumptive Democratic nominee’s campaign didn’t.
In a press conference following a campaign-sponsored roundtable discussion on emerging terrorist threats, Bayh and Nunn were bombarded by questions over reports both Democrats are on Obama's shortlist for vice president.
But Bayh, a senator from Indiana, and Nunn, a former senator from Georgia, revealed little about the Obama campaign's vetting process and their own ambitions for the job.
"I have never aspired to that office," said Nunn, who served in the Senate for 25 years. "It is always nice to have your name mentioned - it is an honor - but I have no expectation of being offered any office, and I am not in any way sitting on the edge of a chair ready to go back into government."
Nunn, one of the most respected Democratic voices on national security policy, seems to encounter vice presidential speculation every election cycle, given his appeal in the South and strength on issues where Republicans usually have the edge.
iReport.com: Share your picks for VP
Bayh, a former supporter of Hillary Clinton who also has red-state appeal, also brushed aside speculation he is being considered a spot on the ticket.
"I love serving the people of Indiana - and I think any questions about the vice presidential thing are understandable and it’s good for my ego, but I should probably let Senator Obama and his campaign address those kind of questions," he said.
One reporter asked the senator — whose father Birch Bayh ran for president in 1976 - if he was taking his name out of the VP running.
"I've got a plane to catch," he responded, chuckling.
Compiled by Mary Grace Lucas
CNN Washington Bureau
CNN: Obama, indeed, is making a red state play
Critics sneered when Barack Obama vowed to challenge John McCain in states that traditionally have been Republican strongholds. But a review of early television advertising spending shows that the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee is making robust buys in a handful of “red states.”
NY Times: In Iraq, Affection for Obama ... but His Proposal?
A tough Iraqi general, a former special operations officer with a baritone voice and a barrel chest, melted into smiles when asked about Senator Barack Obama.“Everyone in Iraq likes him,” said the general, Nassir al-Hiti. “I like him. He’s young. Very active. We would be very happy if he was elected president.”But mention Mr. Obama’s plan for withdrawing American soldiers, and the general stiffens. “Very difficult,” he said, shaking his head. “Any army would love to work without any help, but let me be honest: for now, we don’t have that ability.”
WSJ: McCain Spells Out His Overhaul of Public Education
Sen. John McCain, in his most-detailed discussion on national education policy, proposed to use federal funds to finance vouchers for students in failing schools and merit pay for teachers.
International Herald Tribune: Media stars will accompany Obama overseas
Senator John McCain's trip to Iraq last spring was a low-key affair: With his ordinary retinue of reporters following him abroad, the NBC News anchor Brian Williams reported on his arrival in Baghdad from New York, with just two sentences tacked onto the "in other political news" portion of his newscast.
Washington Post: Administration Wanted Loyalist As Justice Dept. Legal Adviser
Then-Attorney General John D. Ashcroft offered the White House a list of five candidates to lead the Justice Department Office of Legal Counsel in early 2003, but top administration officials summarily rejected them in favor of installing a loyalist who would provide the legal footing needed to continue coercive interrogation techniques and broadly interpret executive power, according to two former administration officials.
Washington Post: The Bad News Donkeys?
Rep. Mike Doyle (D-Pa.) has the toughest job in Washington: manager of the lowly Democratic congressional baseball team. Losers of seven straight to the dreaded Republicans since their come-from-behind win in 2000, the Democrats will march out onto the field tonight at Nationals Park in search of their first win of the Bush presidency.
Compiled by Mary Grace Lucas, CNN Washington Bureau
* Sen. John McCain holds a town hall meeting and then talks with local media in Kansas City, MO.
* Sen. Barack Obama has no public events.