(CNN)— With one week to go before the start of the Democratic Convention, both presumptive nominees are sharpening their attacks. In the latest installment of CNN=Politics Daily, Senior Political Correspondent Candy Crowley reports on how John McCain and Barack Obama’s latest war of words will affect the Illinois senator in Denver.
Meanwhile, McCain and Pastor Rick Warren are hitting back at speculation that the Arizona senator got an unfair advantage during this weekend’s faith forum. CNN’s Ed Henry has the details.
Plus: fall battleground states are taking over the spotlight as the election nears. Senior Political Analyst Bill Schneider breaks down latest poll findings for these toss-up states.
Finally: Pakistan’s U.S. backed President Pervez Musharraf resigns after being threatened with impeachment. CNN’s Reza Sayah reports from Pakistan on the Bush administration’s promise to work with the country’s new leader to strengthen diplomacy and fight terror.
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In a new CNN special report, "McCain and Obama Revealed," Sen. John McCain's wife Cindy McCain said her future husband brazenly approached her in a restaurant when they first met. Marriage to the senator is an "adventure," she said.
Also, Michelle Obama criticizes her husband's fashion style and explains why he's a "no-frills guy." Watch CNN beginning Wednesday at 8 p.m. ET, or, check out highlights now on CNN.com's special report, "McCain and Obama Revealed."
(CNN) – Sen. Barack Obama, the presumptive Democratic nominee, took the opportunity Monday to answer many critiques leveled at him by his own supporters.
“As president, you set the agenda for this country,” Dallas Timmons, a local Democratic Party ward chair said to Obama in Albuquerque, New Mexico. “Are you going to set an agenda of change or one of compromise with what the Republican minority is going to allow you to do in the Congress?“ Timmons asked Obama after specifically mentioning Obama’s support for a surveillance bill disliked by some of Obama left-of-center supporters.
“You’re feisty and I like that, but you’re wrong,” Obama responded to Timmons.
(CNN) - John McCain’s campaign blasted critics who questioned the senator’s account of an incident during his time as a prisoner of war Monday, citing an account from his former fellow POW Orson Swindle and blaming the controversy on “the pro-Obama Dungeons & Dragons crowd.”
During a presidential forum at Pastor Rick Warren’s Saddleback Church on Saturday, McCain told a story of a guard who wordlessly drew a cross in the dirt one Christmas, describing it as a moment that gave him strength.
Critics in the blogosphere said that McCain, who was released in 1973, had not mentioned the incident until shortly before his 2000 presidential bid, and had relayed it in the third person on at least one occasion. They also pointed to similarities between McCain’s account and a similar story in Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s The Gulag Archipelago, his account of life in the Soviet labor camp system.
McCain aide Michael Goldfarb, in a message posted on the campaign’s Web site Monday, said Swindle – now a campaign surrogate – told him the presumptive Republican nominee had related the story “’when we first moved in together [in captivity].’ That was in the summer of 1971, Swindle said, though ‘time blurred’ and he couldn't be sure,” wrote Goldfarb.
(CNN) – About a week before Hillary Clinton is set to speak at the Democratic convention, Barack Obama’s campaign is aggressively making the argument that John McCain’s can’t win over women voters.
Former Hillary Clinton aide Dana Singiser, who oversees Barack Obama’s women’s outreach efforts, said in a Monday memo that McCain’s major effort to reach women voters – announced as Clinton’s active campaign drew to a close – was vital because he had fallen so far behind his Democratic opponent. “Despite his campaign’s outreach efforts, McCain’s attempt to bridge the gender gap has fallen flat,” wrote Singiser.
The McCain campaign did not respond to Singiser’s memo, but did respond to Obama’s Monday criticizing a recent Supreme Court ruling limiting gender discrimination lawsuits. “Barack Obama is spinning this issue to disguise his support for higher taxes, and refusing to acknowledge that the legislation he’s promoting has more to do with paychecks for trial lawyers than the struggles of working women,” Bounds said.
Women favored Obama over McCain by nearly 20 points – 57 percent to 39 percent – in a recent CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll. In the same survey, men favored McCain by 6 points – 50 percent for McCain compared to 44 percent for Obama. The poll of approximately 500 registered male and 500 registered female voters was conducted July 27-29. The margin of error for both groups is plus or minus 4.5 percentage points.
Late last week, Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean said that women were more successful in his party than in the Republican Party. Carly Fiorina, chair of the Republican Party's Victory 2008 campaign, said Dean’s comments were “insulting, inappropriate and have no place in this election.”
(CNN) - Among Republican senators, an invitation to the party's convention next month in Minneapolis might just be the easiest ticket to score in town.
Amid news several Senate Republicans have already backed out of attending the quadannual event, Minnesota Sen. Norm Coleman made clear Monday he wouldn't attend either - if the convention was anywhere else but his backyard.
Watch: Convention conundrum
"The colleagues who don't come are staying at home only because they have tough races," the embattled senator told Minnesota Public Radio. "If the convention wasn't in St. Paul, I wouldn't be at the convention,"
Coleman, like many of his colleagues who have opted not to make the trip to Minnesota, faces a tough re-election battle this fall and may be wary of tying himself to the unpopular GOP brand.
Coleman's rivals are slamming the comments.
"Senator Coleman must think Minnesotans haven't noticed that he has made his political career off the Republican label and willingly hitched his star to George W. Bush," Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party
Chair Brian Melendez said in a statement.
Coleman's comments come only days after Pat Roberts, the two-term senator from Kansas and former Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, announced he's skipping the convention to instead focus on his tougher-than-expected reelection bid.
Earlier: Another Republican senator skipping convention
A handful of of other vulnerable Senate Republicans have flatly said they will not attend, including Susan Collins of Maine, Gordon Smith of Oregon, Ted Stevens of Alaska, and Elizabeth Dole of North Carolina.
Two other vulnerable Republicans — New Hampshire Sen. John Sununu and Mississippi Sen. Roger Wicker — have yet to announce their convention plans.
ALBUQUERQUE, New Mexico (CNN) – Barack Obama took a jab Monday at a weekend comment by John McCain that the minimum income for “rich” making $5 million a year.
At an economic roundtable discussion of the economy Monday in Albuquerque, Obama accused McCain of “peddling” President Bush’s economic policies from the past eight years, including tax breaks for the wealthy.
“Which I guess if you’re making $3 million a year, you're middle class,” said Obama, admitting that maybe McCain was joking.
But that's reflected in his policies,” Obama continued, “where for people making more than $2.5 million, he's giving folks a $500,000 tax break. And so this is a fundamental difference in this election.”
Both candidates appeared, separately, at Pastor Rick Warren’s Saddleback Church on Saturday for his “civil forum” on faith, values and leadership. Asked to define “rich,” McCain responded that it should be defined by a home, a good job, education and “the ability to hand our children a safer and more prosperous world…”
“So I think if you’re just talking about income, how about five million?” he later added. “I’m sure that comment will be distorted, but the point is that we want to keep people’s taxes low and increase revenues.”
Asked the same question earlier in the night, Obama joked that it was book sales of 25 million referring to Warren’s bestselling books. He then declined to give an exact number saying that it depends where one lives but that $250,000 a year means “you are doing well.”
McCain spokesman Tucker Bounds responded in an email saying that Obama is “shamelessly distorting” McCain’s comment.
"Remember when Barack Obama said he was ‘tired of distortion, name-calling, and sound bite solutions to complicated problems?’ Neither do we," wrote Bounds.
John McCain is whining about the media - again. His campaign manager, Rick Davis, wants to meet with the president of NBC News to protest the network's coverage... saying it's abandoning "non-partisan coverage" of the presidential race.
McCain's not happy with what NBC's Andrea Mitchell said on "Meet the Press" yesterday, when she questioned whether McCain may have known about some of the questions at the faith forum Saturday night ahead of time. John McCain was supposed to be held in a so-called "cone of silence" during Barack Obama's interview, which happened first. But it turns out McCain was in his motorcade on the way to Rick Warren's church during the interview.
To read more and contribute to the Cafferty File discussion click here
(CNN) - John McCain will hold a large rally in Ohio and possibly two other battleground states August 29 - the day after Barack Obama formally accepts the Democratic presidential nomination and the same day the Arizona senator is expected to name his running mate, Republican and McCain campaign sources tell CNN's John King.
The McCain campaign is hoping to have 15,000 people at the Ohio rally - roughly 5 times the size of McCain's largest crowd to-date.
Two other rallies are also in the works for that day, likely in Michigan and Pennsylvania.
Campaign sources say the events are not necessarily designed to name a vice presidential candidate, though McCain's VP shortlist is thought to include politicians from all three of those states: Former Ohio Rep. Rob Portman, Michigan native Mitt Romney, and former Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge.
(CNN) - When Joe Biden returns to Capitol Hill Monday from his two-day trip to embattled Georgia, vice presidential speculation will rest squarely on him.
The longtime Delaware senator and former presidential candidate has long been considered to be on the shortlist for Barack Obama's running mate, but his quickly-planned trip to Georgia Saturday night at the behest of that country's president left Washington buzzing he is the most likely choice.
Watch: Will it be Biden?
After all, the Georgia crisis appears to have put national security issues again at the forefront of the presidential campaign, and it's an issue where John McCain has long held the advantage over Obama. The Illinois senator, so the Beltway chatter goes, needs a running-mate with foreign policy experience now more than ever.
If Biden does aspire to be on the Democratic presidential ticket, the trip couldn't have come at a better time - reinforcing his lengthy resume on matters of foreign policy and reminding voters, and Obama, he is well respected by foreign leaders half a world away.
The trip also comes days before Obama is expected to reveal his VP choice - with only days remaining until the Democratic convention, the choice is expected to come this week.
CNN Political Market: Biden's stock on the rise
But of course Biden suggested before he left Saturday he isn't making the trip for political reasons.
"I am going to Georgia this weekend to get the facts first-hand and to show my support for Georgia’s people and its democratically-elected government," he said in a statement. "I look forward to reporting to my colleagues in the Senate and on the Foreign Relations Committee, as well as the Administration, about what I learn."
He may have one or two conversations with his colleague from Illinois too.