(CNN) - John McCain is facing criticism from many Democrats for likening Barack Obama to Paris Hilton, but the Illinois senator made the same comparison himself at a dinner in 2004.
"Andy Warhol said we all get our 15 minutes of fame," then Senator-elect Obama said at a Gridiron dinner in December, 2004. "I've already had an hour and a half. I mean, I'm so overexposed, I'm making Paris Hilton look like a recluse."
That attempt at self deprecating humor was delivered little more than a month after he was elected to the US senate, and just weeks before he was sworn in.
The same comparison was also made in September 2006, when speculation swirled about whether the still-very coy Obama would mount a presidential bid.
Upon speaking at Tom Harkin’s annual Iowa steak fry - a must-attend event for any presidential hopeful - CNN asked Obama about the Paris Hilton comparisons.
“Yeah, exactly,” Obama started to reply before Harkin jumped in and said, “Remember that movie with Robert Redford that was called 'The Natural, about a baseball player? This is the natural of politics.”
(CNN) – Is Bill Richardson about to kiss and make up with the Clintons? It certainly looks that way.
The New Mexico governor announced Wednesday that he will host two fundraisers to help Sen. Hillary Clinton retire more than $20 million in outstanding campaign debt accumulated during her failed White House bid.
"Governor Richardson's efforts reinforce Senator Obama's commitment to unifying the Democratic Party and assisting Senator Clinton's effort to retire her campaign debt," Bill Burton, a spokesman for Barack Obama’s campaign, said in a statement released by Richardson.
Richardson, who served as secretary of energy in Bill Clinton’s administration, decided to endorse the Illinois senator, now the presumptive Democratic nominee. The move was viewed as an act of betrayal by some longtime supporters of the Clintons. CNN Political Analyst James Carville, who has long and deep ties to both Clintons, even likened Richardson’s endorsement to Judas’s betrayal of Christ.
In late April, Richardson responded to Carville’s criticisms by saying that Carville and other Clinton supporters believe they are a “dynasty” and that they were “clinging to the throne.”
Since announcing his support for Obama, Richardson has made numerous television and campaign appearances on Obama’s behalf. He is also mentioned as a potential pick for vice president.
In the statement from Richardson, Clinton spokeswoman Kathleen Strand said, "Senator Clinton is grateful for Governor Richardson's and Senator Obama's efforts to assist with retiring her campaign debt and she is looking forward to continuing to campaign for Senator Obama and help ensure victory for Democrats throughout the country this fall."
Senator Clinton will attend both invitation-only events in New Mexico in mid-August.
(CNN) - It was a weeklong trip that drew blanket media coverage and sharp criticism from Republicans, but Barack Obama's recent tour abroad did little to alter the standing of the presidential race, a new CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll shows.
According to the survey - the first national poll conducted entirely after the Democratic presidential candidate's trip to Iraq, Afghanistan, the Middle East, and Europe - the race for the White House has remained virtually unchanged since late June, with Obama holding a 51-44 percent edge over Sen. John McCain. In a similar poll conducted one month ago, Obama held a 5-point lead over the senator from Arizona , 50-45 percent.
The CNN poll of polls, an average of several recent national surveys, tells the same story - a single-digit lead for Obama (48-45 percent) that keeps McCain within easy striking distance of his Democratic rival with less than 100 days before voters weigh in at the polls.
The new survey also suggests the trip - carefully designed to burnish Obama's foreign policy credentials - did little to alter voters' perceptions of how the Illinois senator would handle national security issues.
"Did Obama's trip help his standing with the public on foreign policy issues? Not really," CNN Polling Director Keating Holland said. "Obama has not picked up any ground against McCain on foreign issues and some 52 percent think McCain would do a better job than Obama on the war in Iraq - virtually the same number who felt that way in April."
The poll also shows the presumptive Republican presidential nominee has an edge on terrorism, Iran, Afghanistan and the Middle East - in fact, every foreign policy and national security issue addressed tilts toward McCain. (Terrorism, Afghanistan, Iraq, Middle East, Iran, and Immigration.)
But in what is good news for Obama, the poll suggests few of the McCain campaign's criticisms of the trip have stuck - especially charges Obama was presumptuously acting as if he had already won the election, and claims he nixed a visit with injured troops because members of the media could not accompany him.
Instead, more than two-thirds of voters surveyed said the trip was appropriate for a presidential candidate, and 72 percent think Obama cares abut veterans and the troops currently in Iraq.
SPRINGFIELD, Missouri (CNN) – In his first interaction with voters since returning from his overseas trip, Barack Obama is focusing on the economy on a bus tour in southwest Missouri Wednesday where the Illinois senator took his regular challenge to debate John McCain on taxes to a new level, invoking alleged local heritage.
“I was just reading that Wild Bill Hickock, he had the first duel in the town square here in Springfield,” said Obama. “The family legend is that Wild Bill Hickock, he's a distant cousin of mine. I'm serious. This is part of the family legend.”
“So we're going to research that ‘cause I'm ready to duel John McCain on taxes,” Obama added to laughter from supporters, “Right now, right here. I'm a quick draw.”
A McCain spokesman shot back quickly with an e-mail to reporters asking, “If Barack Obama wants this so-called ‘duel’ than why did he and his entourage run for the hills when John McCain challenged him to ten town halls?”
The 2008 presidential campaign has been a telethon without a disease. In fact, it will be the longest in American history.
First, the public was subjected to that 16-month long primary season, which included months of the Clinton-Obama drama. And that was just the warm-up act.
It's only July. Now were bombarded daily with non-stop coverage of the Obama-McCain throwdown, the daily back and forth, tit-for-tat between the two campaigns.
These candidates have been in the game for quite some time now, when you consider Barack Obama has almost been running for 2 years, since saying in October of 2006 that he was considering a run for president. John McCain might be at it even longer, dating back to his embrace of President Bush in the 2004 campaign.
And it's only going to get worse.
To read more and contribute to the Cafferty File discussion click here
(CNN) - With the vice presidential selection process perhaps nearing its end, Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, D-Kansas, appeared with a high profile Republican guest Wednesday.
Sebelius, thought to be a possible choice as Barack Obama’s running mate, introduced T. Boone Pickens at a town hall in Topeka that focused on his new energy plan.
“We have a crisis in America, no question,” the Democratic governor told the crowd, “It’s pretty simple to understand. We’re borrowing money from China to import 70 percent of oil, much of it from nations that don’t like us very much. And when we burn it, it harms out planet. Now, if that doesn’t seem like a lose-lose-lose situation to you.”
Pushing the Pickens proposal, Sebelius said, “I think we’re right in the middle of a big hole..when you’re in a hole, you stop digging.”
Pickens is calling for an investment plan to make wind and natural gas the main sources of energy in the United States. He told The Hill this week, “I’ll vote for McCain. But I’m not working on his campaign….I don’t see a plan by either Obama or McCain that is going to solve the $700 billion problem. Neither one of them address that.”
But he had words of praise for Sebelius, saying, “you know it, but you have a fabulous governor. Smart, working for Kansas, and highly intelligent.”
(CNN) - Britney Spears, Paris Hilton…Barack Obama?
A new campaign ad from John McCain - which flashes shots of the two aforementioned megacelebrities - calls Barack Obama "the biggest celebrity in the world," but asks, "Is he ready to lead."
"He's the biggest celebrity in the world. But, is he ready to lead? With gas prices soaring, Barack Obama says no to offshore drilling. And, says he'll raise taxes on electricity. Higher taxes, more foreign oil, that's the real Obama," the ad's narrator says while crowds screaming, "Obama!" are shown.
Responding to the ad, Obama spokesman Tommy Vietor said, "On a day when major news organizations across the country are taking Senator McCain to task for a steady stream of false, negative attacks, his campaign has launched yet another. Or, as some might say, ‘Oops! He did it again.’"
The ad is the latest in a string of hard-hitting television commercials from the McCain campaign. Earlier spots suggest Obama is playing politics with the Iraq war, is against funding American troops, and bears some responsibility for high gas prices.
In a conference call with reporters announcing the ad, McCain adviser Rick Davis said of Obama's campaign coverage, "The focus on media, on events and activities, is much more something you'd expect from someone releasing a new movie."
Listen: McCain advisers explain the new ad in a conference call with reporters
"What we decided to do was find the top three international celebrities in the world," he said. "And I would say that from our estimation Britney and Paris came in second and third. So from our perspective, we have the biggest three celebrities in the world."
(CNN) - Former president Bill Clinton earned $10.1 million in 2007 from paid speeches, according to Sen. Hillary Clinton’s U.S. Senate financial disclosure reports released Wednesday.
Clinton delivered a total of 54 paid speeches in 12 states, the District of Columbia, and 11 countries. His haul from speaking fees for 2006 was $10.2 million.
His most expensive address was delivered on August 14, 2007, in London to AEG, a Los Angeles-based entertainment company, for $425,000. The former president earned $150,000 for 31 of his 54 speeches and an overall average of $186,759.26 per speech. He did not deliver any paid speeches for less than $100,000 in 2007.
The groups he addressed last year include large companies, such as General Electric (delivered on January 13 for $150,000) and Goldman Sachs (delivered on March 1 for $150,000); civic organizations, such as the Boys and Girls Club of Los Angeles (delivered on March 6 for $150,000); and media organizations, such as TVLand (delivered on March 23 for $150,000) and KCBS Radio in San Francisco (delivered on April 14 for $150,000).
Just over half of Clinton’s income from paid speeches came from overseas. He earned a total of $5,150,000 from speeches in 10 countries: Canada (six speeches for a total of $1.1 million); Denmark (three speeches for a total of $790,000); Great Britain (2 speeches for a total of $595,000); Germany (one speech for $250,000); Greece (one speech for $300,000); Hungary (one speech for $275,000); Korea (one speech for $150,000); the Netherlands (one speech for $250,000); Norway (three speeches for $870,000); and Sweden (two speeches for $595,000)
(CNN) - Sen. Barack Obama stood his ground Wednesday in opposing what he calls the "scheme" of offshore drilling, during a campaign event in Springfield, Missouri.
"The oil companies are shoving this thing down the throats of Congress, because they know everybody wants to try to pretend they're doing something about the energy crisis,” Obama said. “This is not real. I know it's tempting. The polls say its one of the ways that a majority of Americans think we're going to solve this problem, but it's not real."
"I understand how desperate folks are. If I thought that I could provide you some immediate relief on gas by drilling off the shores of California and New Jersey... I'd do it.”
But the Democratic presidential candidate added, "The soonest you would see any drop of oil from drilling off our shores would be 10 years from now....The most you would end up saving 10 years or 20 years from now would be a few cents on the gallon, although at that point, I figure oil might be $12 a gallon."
Citing the oil companies' record profits, Obama charged that they are, "making money hand-over fist, they're making out like bandits."
For more on the the latest political news, tune into Campbell Brown: Election Center tonight at 8 pm ET.
WASHINGTON (CNN) — Republicans are attacking the "audacity" of recent comments Barack Obama reportedly made to Democratic congressional leaders Tuesday night in a closed-door meeting.
In comments first reported by the Washington Post and confirmed to CNN by a senior Democratic aide, while discussing his recent trip to Europe, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee said, "This is the moment, as Nancy [Pelosi] noted, that the world has been waiting for.”
The Illinois senator, on Capitol Hill to give House Democrats a pep talk ahead of the November elections, also said he had "become a symbol of the possibility of America returning to our best traditions."
The Democratic aide told CNN that comment was made in the context of "Americans struggling and demanding change." A House Democratic leadership aide who was in the room also told CNN Obama's point was the campaign is "NOT about him."
"The [Washington] Post left out the important first half of the sentence, which was something along the lines of: ‘It has become increasingly clear in my travel, the campaign, that the crowds, the enthusiasm, 200,000 people in Berlin, is not about me at all. It’s about America. I have just become a symbol…,'" the aide said.
The Republican National Committee circulated the comments to reporters under the banner, "Barack Obama audacity watch." John McCain's presidential campaign also forwarded the comments with the subject line, "wow."
Obama and the Democratic leadership emerged from the meeting upbeat Tuesday evening after meeting behind closed doors for close to an hour. Speaking to reporters after the meeting House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Obama has the ability to transform the way Washington does business.
"If we do what I know is possible then I think we can shake up Washington and actually deliver for the American people and that's an exciting prospect," she said.
Also speaking at the press conference, Obama predicted the November election could be a transformative one.
"If the Democrats can make clear our vision, which is not for larger government but is for a responsive, efficient, and honest government that is listening to the voices of the American people, if the American people can feel confident that the institutions here in Washington are working for them and not on behalf of special interests, then I think this can be an incredible election," he said.