(CNN) - John McCain's recent campaign commercial linking Barack Obama to vapid celebrities was unanimously criticized in Democratic quarters, but one of the party's leading strategists says it did the job.
In an op-ed in the Politico, former top strategist Mark Penn to Sen. Hillary Clinton said negative ads are often effective in forming public opinion around a candidate, and specifically pointed to the McCain campaign's recent ad featuring Paris Hilton and Britney Spears as an example of an effective television spot.
"Fair or not, as advertising it did its job: It used humor, stuck viewers with memorable images and created a debate, just as Lyndon Johnson’s 1964 ‘Daisy’ ad, Walter Mondale’s ‘Red Phone’ spot 20 years later and Hillary Rodham Clinton’s ‘3 a.m.’ commercial in 2008 did," Penn wrote.
Penn, who was behind Clinton's headline-grabbing "3 a.m." ad that questioned Obama's readiness to lead during a national security crisis, also said the Illinois senator should have responded more effectively to the Hilton/Spears ad.
(CNN) - Last month, Colorado Springs-based Focus on the Family posted a video on its Web site calling on Christians to “pray for rain” to disrupt Barack Obama’s acceptance speech at the upcoming Democratic convention in nearby Denver. Weeks later, their efforts did result in a deluge – the flood of criticism and news coverage that accompanied their decision to take down the video.
Focus officials insist the video - narrated by the man in charge of Web operations for the group’s political wing - was intended as a joke, and not a request for any divinely-inspired weather patterns.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - A federal appeals court in Washington has rebuffed an attempt by former CIA operative Valerie Plame Wilson to sue top administration officials for the public disclosure of her intelligence job.
An attorney for Wilson and her husband, former Ambassador Joe Wilson, said an appeal is likely.
A three-judge panel rejected the attempt by the Wilsons to revive a lawsuit dismissed by a lower court. The Wilsons wanted to sue Vice President Richard Cheney; his former top aide, Lewis "Scooter" Libby; former White House advisor Karl Rove; and former Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage.
"Because the Wilsons have failed to state constitutional ... claims for which relief may be granted and failed to exhaust their administrative remedies as required ... we affirm the judgment of the district court dismissing the Wilsons' amended complaint in its entirety," the court said.
HARRISBURG, Pennsylvania (CNN) - John McCain is turning up the heat on Moscow, and accusing Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin of wanting to “restore the old Russian empire.”
McCain’s comments came in an interview with Harrisburg public radio WITF, in which he hammered Putin for continuing to wield power since leaving the presidency behind earlier this year and installing his hand-picked successor, Dmitry Medvedev.
“I don’t think there’s any doubt who is still by far the most powerful and influential person in Russia,” McCain said, arguing that Putin’s “personal control” of the military “indicates his position of power.”
“Of course we have to deal with Russia and we deal with Putin,” McCain said. “But it has to be on a very realistic basis. And not one that there’s any illusions about his ambitions.”
Watch: McCain condemns Russia
He then accused Putin of wanting to restore Russia to the days of czardom, when a monarchy exerted broad control over parts of Asia and eastern Europe.
“I think it’s very clear that Russian ambitions are to restore the old Russian Empire,” he said. “Not the Soviet Union, but the Russian Empire.”
(CNN)— Barack Obama’s campaign released a new radio ad Monday that paints John McCain as uninterested in protecting jobs for American companies like Harley Davidson, a major employer in the town of York, Pennsylvania, where the Arizona senator is holding a town hall today.
The 60 second spot, “Motorcycle,” draws upon a speech McCain gave in South Dakota where he mocked Obama’s Berlin speech, claiming he “will take the roar of 50,000 Harleys any day.”
The announcer says, “But when it comes to his record, American-made motorcycles like Harleys don’t matter to John McCain.”
“Back in Washington, McCain opposed a requirement that the government buy American-made motorcycles.”
In 2003, the Arizona senator introduced an amendment that ended the ‘Buy America’ requirement on government purchases of equipment.
Full script after the jump
HONOLULU, Hawaii (CNN) - How do you spend your time in a state famous for its sunny tropical skies? You spend your afternoon in a movie theater.
Sen. Barack Obama did just that Monday afternoon, taking in a matinee of the latest Batman sequel, 'The Dark Knight' - and giving him an opportunity to assess the acting ability of campaign supporter and Democratic Senate colleague Patrick Leahy of Vermont, who makes a cameo appearance in the blockbuster film.
Post-movie, Obama went for a 4-star meal for the second time this week: Monday night it was 'Mariposa' at the Honolulu Neiman Marcus. The restaurant's Web site promises exceptional Hawa'in cuisine served on an open air lanai, situated to catch the island's legendary sunsets.
Activities for the Hawai'ian-born presumptive Democratic nominee so far have included a jog along the beach, a round of golf, and a carbeque along the North Shore, which is known for its killer surfing. Obama has also made several visits to his grandmother, who has lived in Honolulu for 50 years and who he affectionately calls his 'Tùtù.'
(CNN)—Amidst growing talk of U.S. intervention in the Republic of Georgia, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi urged Russia again to sign and honor a cease-fire Monday night, while condemning the country’s military action.
“What the Russians did is really outside the circle of civilized behavior,” Pelosi told Larry King. “You don’t just roll your tanks and airplanes into another country and expect people to sit back and say, ‘that’s okay’.”
Following the outbreak of violence in Georgia last week, Pelosi issued a statement condemning Russian military action.
"The sooner Russian military action ceases, Russian forces are withdrawn, and Georgia's borders are respected,” Pelosi said in a statement on August 9. “The sooner a settlement of Georgia's internal disputes can be achieved and regional security enhanced."
Given U.S. military involvement in other war torn countries, namely Afghanistan, Pelosi said Monday she hoped the Russia-Georgia conflict could be resolved without U.S. involvement, looking toward Europeans and NATO to act as “peacekeepers,” if need be.
“Georgia's borders must be protected,” said Pelosi. “We must have a conversation, a diplomatic conversation in terms of NATO, more than a conversation, to resolve the issues there.”
Tipping her hat to Congress and the presidential candidates, Pelosi touted their ability to speak “with one voice,” on the matter.
(CNN) - Barack Obama's campaign manager said Monday John McCain's now-famous Paris Hilton/Britney Spears television ad wasn't just insulting to the Illinois senator, but to his campaign's legion of supporters as well.
And in an e-mail to those supporters Monday, campaign manager David Plouffe is hoping a backlash from that television spot will push Obama over the two million individual donor mark by the party's convention at the end of August - only six months after the campaign topped one million donors.
"While supporters like you are out knocking on doors, registering new voters, and organizing in your local communities, our opponents are not even trying to match your efforts. Instead, they're spending millions to spread the smear that Barack is just a 'celebrity' and that our grassroots movement is just a bunch of mindless fans," Plouffe wrote in the e-mail in what is one of his harshest assessments to date of McCain's 'Celebrity' ad.
"Two million donors is an incredible number - a number that was previously unimaginable for presidential campaigns," he also wrote. "And it's a number this campaign never dreamed we could reach before the convention."
Obama surpassed one million donors in late February, a number the campaign said then was one "no one ever thought would be possible." As of the end of June, the most recent fundraising figures available, Obama had raised nearly $340 million for his presidential bid.
A steady fundraising clip is especially important for Obama, who earlier this summer backed off his onetime pledge to enter into public financing - and the spending caps that come with it - in the general election campaign.
Justifying his reversal on that pledge, Obama cited his vast donor list and said his campaign was fueled mainly by small contributions. Though the New York Times reported last week close to a third of the Obama campaign's fundraising receipts has come from donors who gave $1,000 or more.
WASHINGTON (CNN) — Rep. Ron Paul's wife was hospitalized Monday at a Houston-area hospital, a spokesman for the Texas Republican confirms to CNN.
"Carol Paul has been taken ill and is currently in the Critical Care Unit at a Houston area hospital," Jesse Benton, Paul's spokesman, said in an email statement to CNN. "She has had several abdominal surgeries and remains in serious but stable condition. Dr. Paul appreciates the outpouring of concern and good wishes during this difficult time."
Benton did not name the hospital or provide further details about the hospitalization.
Paul unsuccessfully sought the 2008 Republican presidential nomination, developing a loyal following among people who support limited government as well as among anti-war activists. Paul was the only Republican presidential candidate who opposed the Iraq war.
CNN: Russian president calls halt to Georgian war
Russia's president has ordered an end to military operations against Georgia, the official Russian news agency Interfax reported Tuesday.
CNN: Memos show Clinton camp lines of attack, disarray
Sen. Hillary Clinton's one-time chief strategist wanted to attack Sen. Barack Obama for lacking "American roots" during the Democratic primary battle, according to a magazine article set to be published online Monday evening.WSJ: Obama Floods Florida Airwaves
In Florida's living rooms, the presidential contest so far has been a landslide - Barack Obama, 9,785; John McCain, zero.
LA Times: Longtime Republican voters are airing new views
Many struggling families in the normally comfortable cul-de-sacs outside U.S. cities are thinking of switching parties.
CNN Radio: Georgia on their Minds
Conflict in the Caucasus catch the candidate's eyes as they add their own rhetoric to the crossfire. Meanwhile, a Clinton confidant can't let go of the past. CNN's Steve Kastenbaum has today's CNN Radio Political Ticker.
Washington Post Op-Ed: Mikhail Gorbachev: A Path to Peace in the Caucasus
The past week's events in South Ossetia are bound to shock and pain anyone. Already, thousands of people have died, tens of thousands have been turned into refugees, and towns and villages lie in ruins. Nothing can justify this loss of life and destruction. It is a warning to all.
CNN: Ron Paul's wife hospitalized
Rep. Ron Paul's wife was hospitalized Monday at a Houston-area hospital, a spokesman for the Texas Republican confirms to CNN.