(CNN) – Last month, the Republican National Committee tire gauges as part of its effort to rip Sen. Barack Obama’s energy policy. Now the Democratic Party is returning the favor, sending journalists oil drum-shaped stress balls as the presumptive Republican nominee visited an oil rig Tuesday to push for offshore drilling.
The “Exxon-McCain ’08” campaign kits from the Democratic National Committee — the latest effort in a weeks-long campaign by the party to tie McCain to the oil giant - contain a bumper sticker, two buttons, and a stress relieving device shaped like an oil barrel. All of the items are emblazoned with the words “Exxon McCain ‘08” and the image of a gas station pump.
But in a bit of poor political timing, a study by the Center for Responsive Politics released earlier this month as the DNC launched its effort to link McCain to Exxon found that employees and executives of that company, along with fellow oil giants Chevron and BP, had actually donated more money to presumptive Democratic nominee Barack Obama than to the Arizona senator’s presidential bid. The study did find that McCain received more contributions overall from the oil industry - $1.3 million compared with roughly $400,000 to Obama.
(CNN) - In a week where vice-presidential speculation has reached a feverish pitch, Barack Obama gave tea-leaf readers another reason to suspect he will name fellow Sen. Joe Biden his running mate later this week.
Speaking to veterans in Orlando, Florida, Obama specifically called out the Delaware senator and former presidential candidate, calling him a 'friend' and saying he agreed with Biden's call for U.S. assistance to Georgia.
Watch: VP speculation in overdrive
"We must help Georgia rebuild what has been destroyed," Obama said during a speech at the Veterans of Foreign Wars national convention. "That is why I’m proud to join my friend, Senator Joe Biden, in calling for an additional $1 billion in reconstruction assistance for the people of Georgia."
It was only a passing reference to the longtime senator, but it comes one day after Biden returned from a trip to Georgia at the behest of that country's president - a stark reminder of his national security gravitas and deep-rooted relationships with leaders around the world. As the Georgia crisis once again puts national security issues front-and-center in voters' minds, so the Beltway chatter goes, Obama needs a running-mate with foreign policy experience now more than ever.
But Biden wasn't the only senator Obama praised in his speech Tuesday - the Illinois senator also mentioned Jim Webb, the Virginia Democrat and Vietnam veteran who took himself out of the VP running last month.
Obama also took the opportunity to aggressively respond to rival John McCain's charge in a speech to the group yesterday that Obama is putting his political ambitions ahead of the country's interests.
“Let me be clear: I will let no one question my love of this country," he said. "I love America, so do you, and so does John McCain.”
Related: 'Times are too serious' for partisan acts, Obama says
(CNN) – For weeks, Republican senators have been announcing their plans to skip their party’s nominating convention next month. Now one of their Democratic colleagues has announced she’ll be missing her party’s Denver convention — but this absence is an involuntary one.
California Sen. Dianne Feinstein, who was co-hosting an annual environmental summit in Lake Tahoe, broke her ankle Friday when she slipped and fell while walking with Rep. Ellen Tauscher.
“My doctor has advised me not to travel in the short-term, and so, regretfully, I am unable to attend what will surely be an historic convention in Denver,” Feinstein said in a statement released by her office.
“I was very much looking forward to chairing the California delegation, and I offer my best wishes to California’s delegates in this vital nomination process,” she added.
Feinstein, who had been a strong supporter of Hillary Clinton’s presidential bid, hosted both Clinton and Obama’s first post-primary season meeting in June at her home in Washington.
Feinstein can still cast her delegate vote at the convention by telephone “or other electronic means,” according to Democratic Party rules.
(CNN) – Hillary Clinton was the top VP choice of Democratic delegates willing to state their pick in a new poll released just days before the party’s convention in Denver.
Twenty-eight percent of the 970 pledged delegates and superdelegates surveyed in a CBS News/New York Times poll want to see Clinton as Barack Obama’s running mate, with Joe Biden coming in at 6 percent and John Edwards, Bill Richardson, and Evan Bayh at 4 percent. Thirsty-six percent did not have a preference, or would not state their opinion.
But just 61 percent of Clinton’s delegates would still like to see her name the Democratic ticket this fall — leaving open the question of just how many will still cast their votes for her when her name is placed into nomination at next week’s convention..
Few Obama delegates surveyed — just 3 percent - would like to see him offer Clinton a place on the ticket. But the names currently rumored to be on Obama’s shortlist hardly fared better: Richardson garners 8 percent, and Biden draws 7 percent.
Nearly half the superdelegates interviewed didn’t offer a pick.
Most delegates heading to Colorado agree that Clinton would help the Democratic ticket win in November: 61 percent believe she would help the party re-capture the White House, while 13 percent believe she would hurt its chances. Yet another divide exists between the Clinton and Obama camps here: almost all of the New York senator’s pledged delegates say she would help, while just 35 percent of Obama’s say the same.
The poll had a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percent.
(CNN) – Former Vice President Al Gore has accepted a speaking role on the final night of the Democratic convention, appearing on the same stage that Barack Obama will officially receive the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination, three sources tell CNN.
It is unclear what Gore will say in the speech or at what time he will deliver his remarks before an audience that is expected to exceed 70,000 at Invesco Field.
The Obama campaign would not comment on the matter.
(CNN) – Perhaps Ed Rendell's name can be officially scrapped from the list of potential VPs.
The Pennsylvania governor and fervent Hillary Clinton backer said Monday he's planning to vote for the New York senator at the Democratic convention next week.
Rendell, who has been credited with helping to deliver his state to Clinton, told a Pennsylvania blog Monday that a vote for Clinton is not meant to show disunity.
"It honors the hard work of so many people who supported Sen. Clinton," he told PolitickerPA. "Many of the Pennsylvania delegates worked their heart out for Sen. Clinton, and they're excited to cast a vote for her. From my vantage point, that will be closure for them."
"Early on, I said I would cast my ballot for Sen. Clinton," he also said. "I'm going to cast my ballot for her, and then the moment I cast my vote, I'm going to continue to enthusiastically support Sen. Obama. It's going to be a good release for all of us."
Rendell has long said he would make a bad running mate, noting in an interview, "If I'm asked a question, I answer it and I tell the truth,” he said last February. "That probably isn't a good idea for someone who is the No. 2 on the ticket."
Watch Barr on CNN's American Morning
(CNN) – Libertarian presidential candidate Bob Barr Tuesday said he’s lost his faith in government since the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001.
“The government has taken tremendous liberties with our liberty, taking away our liberty in the name of fighting terrorism, using fear to take away people's rights and their privacy in this country,” Barr said during an interview with CNN American Morning’s Kiran Chetry. “And that's caused me and a lot of Americans to lose a great deal of faith in the government, which ought to be protecting our liberties, not taking them away.”
Barr, a former Republican representative from Georgia, is fighting to be included in the national dialogue. He unsuccessfully sued to be included in last weekend’s forum hosted by Rev. Rick Warren that included Sen. Barack Obama, the presumed Democratic presidential nominee, and Sen. John McCain, the presumed Republican presidential nominee.
The former Republican said the two major parties were excluding him from the national debates because they want to maintain their lock on national politics.
“They simply don't want the competition from an outsider, so to speak, somebody that might make them feel uncomfortable by raising some issues, some new perspectives, some new choices for the American people,” Barr said. “They like playing the game within the confines of their very closed system that they can control.”
The libertarian nominee, who is currently polling at 3 percent nationally according to a CNN/Opinion Research poll conducted last month, said his goal was raise his support to 15 percent nationally so that he can participate in the official presidential debates this fall.
(CNN) - It might be Barack Obama's convention, but Hillary Clinton is taking the opportunity to raise money off of it.
Days after the New York senator announced she would award one contributor a trip to the convention with her, husband Bill Clinton is out with another fundraising appeal Monday encouraging supporters to join the contest.
Cafferty: Should Obama help Clinton with debt?
In an e-mail to potential donors Monday, the former president promised one contributor would have a memorable week with his wife, though he took care to reiterate Obama is the Democrat who the party will nominate for president.
The e-mail is a stark reminder the New York senator remains mired in campaign debt more than two months after she ended her historic bid for the White House, much to the aggravation of many of her supporters.
"You'll get to see Hillary speak on Tuesday, and Barack Obama - the next president of the United States - on Thursday," he wrote. "And I hear Hillary and you will have a chat - I'll make sure to stop by."
The fundraising appeal also comes shortly after it was announced Clinton's name would be placed in nomination along with Obama's and the same day one of the New York senator's most prominent backers, billionaire Lynn Forrester, expressed anger with Obama for not doing more to help the New York senator retire her campaign debt.
“He has provided her with a pittance compared to what the Clintons have given Obama,” she said. “Her debt could have been cleared within 10 days. It’s ungracious.”
Related: Clinton donors hesitant to show love for Obama
When it comes to her campaign debt, the conclusion of the party's convention serves as an important deadline. According to McCain/Feingold campaign finance reform, candidates only have 20 days after that date to fundraise for their personal loans.
As of the end of June, Clinton was more than $25 million in debt, $13 million of which is owed to herself. (Though New Jersey Senator Frank Lautenberg is currently appealing the FEC with regards to that provision.)
The Clintons, likely averse to any more hits on their public image, are reportedly not seeking to get their own money back.
NY Times: Obama Ready to Announce Running Mate This Week
Senator Barack Obama has all but settled on his choice for a running mate and set an elaborate rollout plan for his decision, beginning with an early morning alert to supporters, perhaps as soon as Wednesday morning, aides said.
Washington Post: Obama Tells Allies He Is Ready to Hit Back
Sen. Barack Obama returned to the presidential campaign trail on Monday after a week-long Hawaiian vacation and tried to assure anxious Democrats that he is ready to fight back against Republican character attacks that grew sharper in his absence.
Washington Post: Obama's Vice Presidential Pick Is Already Staffed
If you're one of those political junkies who can hardly bear the anxiety of waiting for Barack Obama to choose his vice presidential running mate, think of how David Wade and Chris Mather feel.
CNN Radio: Tick-tock you don’t stop – VP buzz reaching fever pitch
The clock is winding down on the V.P. race as it turns from a marathon into a sprint. Lisa Desjardins has today's CNN Radio Political Ticker.
CNN: The night that changed McCain's life
It was September 1967, and Lt. Cmdr. John McCain was back from Vietnam on home leave. He invited Chuck Larson over for dinner, and during a late night game of bridge, McCain pulled his buddy from the U.S. Naval Academy and flight school aside.
CNN: Barack Obama: A meteoric rise
When Sen. Barack Obama accepts his party's presidential nomination at the Democratic National Convention in Denver, Colorado, he will have experienced one of the most rapid - and unexpected - ascents in American political history.