(CNN) – In a unanimous decision Thursday, the Federal Election Commission granted a request from John McCain’s campaign to withdraw from a program that provides presidential candidates with matching funds during the primary season.
The Democratic National Committee filed a complaint with the FEC earlier this year after the McCain campaign announced that it was withdrawing from the primary season matching funds program, in a bid to avoid spending restrictions that would have resulted if they participated. Democrats argued that the McCain camp could not legally opt out after obtaining a $4 million line of credit using the prospect of the public matching funds as collateral, and could not unilaterally withdraw without approval from the FEC, which did not have a voting quorum for much of the year. The party also called for an FEC investigation of McCain’s campaign finances.
The McCain campaign had said that the possibility of receiving public matching funds was not in reality the collateral for the line of credit that kept the Arizona senator’s campaign afloat.
The DNC has not yet said whether they will continue to press for a federal investigation.
(CNN) - For those in the business of examining each of Barack Obama's moves for a potential hint of who will be named the Democratic VP, buzz circulated after the Illinois senator held a private meeting with Virginia Governor Tim Kaine and his staff Thursday morning.
Watch: Ed Henry on the Obama VP pick
Both men were mum on what was discussed, and Kaine - considered to be among those at the top of Obama's VP shortlist - wouldn't comment on whether he was offered the coveted position.
"I'm going to let the campaign speak for the campaign," Kaine said, and later refused to indicate whether he had been ruled out for the position. "He visited with my staff just to basically say hi to them and thank them for all their hard work."
Obama spokeswoman Jen Psaki said the presumptive Democratic nominee also took a photo with Kaine's staff before the two headed to a campaign event in Chester, Virginia.
(CNN) – Sen. Barack Obama has the lead in Minnesota according to a new poll released Thursday.
The Illinois Democrat leads rival John McCain by 10 points – 48 percent to 38 percent. In the survey, 10 percent said they were unsure about their choice for president, 3 percent preferred Ralph Nader, and 1 percent chose Bob Barr, the Libertarian Party’s nominee.
As McCain enters the final stage of his vice presidential selection process, the poll also suggests that picking Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty as his running mate might help McCain in the battleground state. Roughly 1 in 5 likely Minnesota voters indicated that they would be more like to vote for McCain with Pawlenty on the GOP ticket, according to an analysis released by the polling director at the University of Minnesota which conducted the survey. The analysis also stated that choosing Pawlenty appears to lift McCain’s support by 13 points.
“If Gov. Pawlenty can shift Minnesota into the Republican column for the first time in 36 years, that will be a significant boost for McCain,” said CNN Senior Political Researcher Alan Silverleib. “Adding a blue state like Minnesota basically compensates for the loss of a medium-sized red state from 2004, such as Colorado, Indiana, or Missouri. The numbers in this poll hint at a rare chance for McCain to go on the offensive in terms of the electoral map.”
The Minnesota Public Radio News/ Hamphrey Institute survey of 763 likely Minnesota voters was conducted August 7-17 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.6 percentage points.
CNN considers Minnesota a toss-up state. Click here to view CNN's Electoral Map.
(CNN)—The ONE campaign released a star-studded pre-convention ad Thursday, featuring Michelle Obama and Cindy McCain, the wives of both presumptive presidential nominees.
The 30-second spot, ‘'Voices,’ stars actor Matt Damon, who has traveled with the ONE campaign to Africa two times. As the ad progresses, Damon remains on camera, but his voice is replaced by those of New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Michelle Obama, Cindy McCain, as well as average Americans.
"“Thanks to everyday Americans who chose to make a difference millions of lives have been saved in the world’s poorest countries,” Damon says. “But there’s still more to do,” Cindy McCain adds. “Please join the millions of Americans from every party,” Damon continues. “Who are coming together as ONE,” says Michelle Obama.
The nearly $2 million ad campaign emphasizes the need for the United States to be educated and involved in helping some of the world's most deprived countries.
Michelle Obama and Cindy McCain have been active supporters of the campaign's mission. In July, Mrs. McCain joined the ONE Campaign on a trip to Rwanda, visiting health clinics, and an orphanage.
The ad will hit the airwaves Sunday, August 24 on cable and entertainment channels.
Full script after the jump
(CNN) – Barack Obama’s campaign continued to hit John McCain on his failure to answer a question on the number of homes he owns with a new ad Thursday, as the presumptive Democratic nominee hammered the same point on the campaign trail in Virginia and the McCain camp battled back.
Watch: Obama hits McCain on homes
“Somebody asked John McCain, 'how many houses do you have?' and he said, 'I'm not sure, I’ll have to check with my staff,'” said Obama at a Thursday morning campaign stop. “True quote! 'I'm not sure, I'll have to check with my staff.' So they asked his staff and he said, 'at least four.' 'At least four.'
“Now think about that - I guess if you think that being rich means you gotta make five million dollars, and if you don't know how many houses you have, then it's not surprising that you might think the economy is fundamentally strong,” he continued. “But if you're like me and you've got one house - or you were like the millions of people who are struggling right now to keep up with their mortgage so that they don't lose their home - you might have a different perspective. …
He also said that there was a “fundamental gap of understanding” between McCain’s world and “what people are going thru every single day here in America.”
The Republican’s campaign continued to press their long-time charge that Obama himself is an elitist. “Does a guy who made more than $4 million last year, just got back from vacation on a private beach in Hawaii and bought his own million-dollar mansion with the help of a convicted felon really want to get into a debate about houses?” said McCain spokesman Brian Rogers. “Does a guy who worries about the price of arugula and thinks regular people 'cling' to guns and religion in the face of economic hardship really want to have a debate about who’s in touch with regular Americans?
Be sure to check the Political Ticker for the very latest VP news, day or night – whenever news of the final decision breaks, it will show up here, along with the very latest behind-the-scenes reporting from CNN’s Political Unit.
Watch Kaine on American Morning.
(CNN) – Democrats jumped on a comment by John McCain that seemed to suggest he was unsure of how many homes he owned – the latest move in a series of attacks designed to paint the presumptive Republican nominee as wealthy and out-of-touch with ordinary Americans.
“I understand Senator McCain was asked yesterday this question: ‘how many houses do you own?’ And he couldn't answer that question,” Virginia Governor and VP contender Tim Kaine told CNN’s John Roberts in an interview on American Morning. “He couldn't count high enough to know how many houses he owns.
“We have Americans struggling, with foreclosures skyrocketing in Virginia and elsewhere, gas prices, jobs slowing down and the deficit at a record level. We have to have somebody who can change the direction of this economy. John McCain won't do it, but Barack Obama understands the new economy and he will.”
McCain’s wife Cindy is heir to a beer fortune estimated at roughly $100 million.
When asked about the number of houses he owned in a Politico interview published Thursday, McCain was unable to answer. "I think — I'll have my staff get to you," he replied. "It's condominiums where — I'll have them get to you."
The remark comes days after McCain faced criticism from Obama over a weekend remark at Pastor Rick Warren’s faith forum, where the Arizona senator joked that someone would need to earn $5 million a year in the United States to be defined as rich.
The McCain camp later told Politico the Arizona senator and his wife own at least four homes in three states. Other news organizations have reported a higher total.
(CNN) - Barack Obama is out with two more television ads directly attacking rival John McCain - the latest in a string of negative commercials the Illinois senator's campaign has launched over the past week as polls show the race for the White House has essentially become a dead heat.
The first ad - hitting airwaves in the crucial battleground state of Nevada - attacks the Arizona senator over his support of storing nuclear waste in the state's Yucca mountain. "Dangerous" is the second Obama campaign spot in the state to criticize McCain on that hot-button issue for many Nevadans.
"John McCain says he's opposed to nuclear waste going through Arizona, but he wants to dump it here in Nevada. If you don't want nuclear waste here, you don't want John McCain here," the ad's narrator says, as a picture of the White House flashes.
The second spot - called "Better Off" - is similar to an ad the campaign already has in the mix, featuring John McCain's comment at a January primary debate stating, "we've had a pretty good prosperous time." It then shows several citizens from Ohio and Indiana discussing their own economic woes as a screen graphic asks, "How can John McCain fix the economy when he doesn't think it's broken?"
(CNN) – The McCain and Obama campaigns said Thursday that they have nailed down the details for this fall’s three 90-minute presidential debates.
As announced two weeks ago, Jim Lehrer of PBS’s The NewsHour will moderate the first presidential debate between Barack Obama and John McCain September 26 at the University of Mississippi. The faceoff will focus on foreign policy and national security issues.
Thursday’s announcement laid out the debate format: each candidate will get two minutes to respond to a question, followed by an open discussion for another five minutes.
The second debate, moderated by NBC’s Tom Brokaw, will be held October 7 at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee. The format will be town-hall style; all questions will come from members of the audience or queries sent in over the Internet.
(CNN) - As the veepstakes continue to dominate headlines, plenty of politicians have made it clear they’re not going to be on the Democratic ticket this fall. But with the final announcement perhaps just hours away, one of the men rumored to be at the top of Barack Obama’s VP shortlist declined a chance to clarify his own status.
Asked by CNN American Morning’s John Roberts whether the fact that he’d agreed to an interview at the height of the pre-announcement frenzy meant he would not be Obama’s running mate, Virginia Governor Tim Kaine demurred.
“You’ll just have to hear from the campaign, and they’ll make the announcement when [they’re] ready,” said Kaine.
Is Kaine still on the list? “I’ll go back to that answer,” said Kaine. “I’ll call that taking the fifth or something. Hear from the campaign, John. They’ll let us all know when they want to.”
Kaine also would not say whether or not he had been through the VP vetting process. “I’m going to stick with the first answer. It’s been flattering to be mentioned. My mom in Kansas City loves it when someone will talk about me as VP.”
Obama and Kaine are scheduled to campaign together in Virginia today.