WASHINGTON (CNN) - Former Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee said Wednesday he's not trying to settle old scores with his onetime GOP rival Mitt Romney, despite sharply criticizing the former Massachusetts governor in a new book out earlier this week.
"I didn't dislike him," Huckabee told CNN's Wolf Blitzer in an interview on The Situation Room. "It was a matter of [Romney] taking positions on issues that he had never taken before and at the same time, he was bashing people like me who had been consistent in our own views."
Huckabee's book, released Tuesday, is exceedingly critical of several Republicans he says are partly to blame for the party's across-the-board losses on Election Day, including Romney and Fred Thompson - another former GOP presidential candidate.
In the book, Huckabee specifically takes aim at Romney for shifting positions on key conservative issues shortly before he decided to run for the White House, saying his record was "anything but conservative until he changed the light bulbs in his chandelier in time to run for president."
He also lashes out at Romney for what he said was the former governor's refusal to offer congratulations when Huckabee was the surprise winner of the crucial Iowa caucuses in January. Many political observers say it was that loss that ultimately derailed Romney's bid for the Oval office.
A spokesman for Romney called the comments "petty."
MINNEAPOLIS, Minnesota (CNN) - The Senate campaign in Minnesota between incumbent Republican Norm Coleman and Democratic challenger Al Franken was considered to be quite nasty, with attack ads and angry statements by both sides. Now, it seems the recount between the two candidates could be just as ugly.
Two weeks and one day after Election Day, a mandatory recount is underway in the state in the battle for Coleman's seat. Workers at 107 sites across Minnesota Tuesday began counting the more than 2.9 million votes cast in the contest.
Unofficial results put Coleman, a freshman Republican senator, just 215 votes ahead of his Democratic challenger, Al Franken, known across the country from his days on Saturday Night Live and from his years as a talk show host on Air America, the progressive radio network. The slim margin for Coleman, far less than one half of one percent, triggered an automatic recount, the first time there's ever been a recount of a US senate race in Minnesota.
Now election officials are beginning the long process of recounting all of the ballots. They're surrounded by election observers and lawyers from both campaigns, and the media.
(CNN) – President-elect Barack Obama formally announced the additions of key White House staff members on Wednesday, including the previously expected choice of David Axelrod as Senior Advisor to the President
"I am pleased to announce these new additions to our team, and I'll be relying on their broad and diverse experience in the months ahead as we work to strengthen our economy, reform Washington, and meet the great challenges of our time," Obama said.
Axelrod has been a fixture by Obama’s side for years, serving as the chief strategist for Obama’s campaign and as a top adviser during his run for the Senate in 2004.
Obama also announced Greg Craig as White House Counsel, Lisa Brown as Staff Secretary and Chris Lu as Cabinet Secretary.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin is congratulating Anchorage Mayor Mark Begich on winning his Senate race against veteran lawmaker Ted Stevens.
“I extend my congratulations to Mark Begich and his family,” Palin said in a statement released by her office Wednesday. “This is a new era for Alaska and I look forward to working with Mark on the many issues that are important to our state. I am confident he will add a compelling new voice to the U.S. Senate.”
"I also thank Senator Ted Stevens for his 40 years of dedicated service to Alaska,” the statement said. “His tireless efforts on behalf of the state he loves have benefited all those who call it home. Todd and I join all Alaskans in gratitude to Sen. Stevens."
Palin wasn’t always so effusive toward Stevens, the longest serving Republican in the Senate. During her vice presidential bid, after Stevens was indicted on seven felony counts, she would not say whether she planned to vote for the senator in his re-election bid.
In October, after Stevens was found guilty of making false statements on his financial disclosure reports, Palin initially said it was “a sad day” for Alaska but did not call for the senator to step down. The next day, in a television appearance with John McCain, Palin went a step further and said Stevens should indeed resign.
On Election Day in her hometown of Wasilla, Palin refused to say if she voted for Stevens.
“I am also exercising my right to privacy, and I don't have to tell anybody who I vote for, nobody does, and that’s really cool about America also,” she told a reporter.
(CNN) - Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens has conceded defeat to Democratic challenger Mark Begich in the Alaska Senate race.
Stevens, 85, was the longest serving Republican senator in the chamber's history.
“Given the number of ballots that remain to be counted, it is apparent the election has been decided and Mayor Begich has been elected," Stevens said in a statement. “My family and I wish to thank the thousands of Alaskans who stood by us and who supported my re-election. It was a tough fight that would not have been possible without the help of so many Alaskans – people who I am honored to call my friends. I will always remember their thoughts, prayers, and encouragement."
Full statement after the jump
(CNN) - It's taken more than two weeks, but we finally have a winner in Missouri.
Fifteen days after Election Day, Republican Sen. John McCain has narrowly edged out President-elect Barack Obama in the state, according to CNN's review of the latest unofficial vote totals from the Missouri Secretary of State. This resolves the final outstanding contest of the 2008 presidential race.
According to the unofficial results, McCain won the state by 3,632 votes . The unofficial count shows McCain with 1,445,812 votes, or 49.4 percent, and Obama with 1,442,180 votes, or 49.3 percent.
With Missouri's 11 electoral votes in Senator McCain's column, the final count is 365 for Obama and 173 for McCain.
McCain's edging out of Obama in Missouri breaks the state's bellwether streak in which Missourians correctly picked the presidential candiate in every election dating back to the 1960 contest. Missouri got it wrong in 1956, voting for the Democratic challenger Adlai Stevenson, who lost the election to President Dwight D. Eisenhower. Before that election, Missouri correctly picked the winner in every race for the White House dating back to 1904.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - As Minnesota begins to re-count the nearly three million ballots cast in the state’s tightly-contested Senate battle, the two candidates in the race - Democrat Al Franken and Republican incumbent Norm Coleman - were on Capitol Hill meeting with Senate leaders.
Franken met with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid for about 20 minutes on Wednesday morning in Reid’s office on the second floor of the Capitol building. After the meeting, he told reporters he had briefed the Majority Leader on the mechanics of the recount and said he is "cautiously optimistic" he will win.
"We believe that if they're all counted, we think that we’ll prevail given the sort of history of all this,” Franken said of the recount.
The former comedy writer said he had scheduled meetings at the DSCC, where he will meet with experts who know about setting up transition offices and organizational things along those lines. He said it would "be irresponsible not to start thinking about that stuff before in case we do win."
Franken also said his campaign will continue fundraising while the ballots are being counted to pay for field organization and potential legal costs.
"We anticipate that there will be more litigation," Franken said. Lawsuits have been filed by both campaigns.
(CNN) – In another sign of the Republican Party’s efforts to regroup after multiple losses on Election Day, the National Republican Congressional Committee is now under new leadership.
Rep. Pete Sessions of Texas is now in charge of GOP efforts to win back a majority in the House of Representatives.
“Today marks a new beginning for the NRCC,” Session said in a statement released after his election Wednesday. “I will build an aggressive, energized, and modernized NRCC by immediately working to strengthen fundraising, implement strategic candidate recruitment, update messaging and technology, and create organizational strength and long-term strategies to secure a Republican Majority.”
Sessions takes over after Rep. Tom Cole of Oklahoma decided not to seek reelection as head of the GOP committee.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - At the Pentagon they call it “burrowing”.
Political appointees– typically low level - are scrambling to hold onto their positions in the next administration by getting their job description changed from “political” to “career civil service”.
Political appointees serve at the pleasure of president, while career civil servants are hired on merit, and are supposed to be non-ideologues who serve any administration.
There have been accusations leveled at the White House that the appointees of doing so to further the Bush administration agenda, which the White House denies. But here in the halls of the Pentagon they see another motive. Already there’s some grousing from long-time Pentagon staffers who see relative newcomers angling to keep their plum jobs.
“It’s a lot of 20-something who have jobs where they get someone coffee”, harps one veteran of several transitions.
“I know two people in political jobs who are bragging they will be staying,” the staffer told CNN on condition of anonymity.
President-elect Barack Obama won the White House on a message of change. Fifty-three percent of Americans said they wanted something new and different in Washington. Well, Obama is certainly new and different, but the same cannot be said for some of his early appointments. It’s like that song title, “Everything Old Is New Again.”
As Obama prepares to take over, he’s asking a bunch of former Clinton Administration members to come on board.
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