(CNN) - Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee will visit the key Republican primary states of Iowa and South Carolina next month during a tour to promote his new holiday-themed book.
The Fox News talk show host has planned a three-stop swing through Iowa on Nov. 8 - one day after another potential 2012 candidate, Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, is scheduled to speak at an Iowa Republican Party event in Des Moines.
Huckabee plans to visit book stores in Cedar Rapids, Davenport and Des Moines to promote the book, "A Simple Christmas: Twelve Stories that Celebrate the True Holiday Spirit." The former presidential candidate has returned to Iowa several times since his win in the Iowa caucuses in January 2008, most recently to raise money for Republican gubernatorial candidate Bob Vander Plaats.
Later that week, on Nov. 13, his book tour takes him to the conservative South Carolina upstate, where he'll sign copies of the book in Greenville and Spartanburg.
Also on Huckabee's calendar: five stops in Florida and one stop in evangelical-heavy western Michigan
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Virginia governor Tim Kaine, the chairman of the Democratic National Committee, acknowledged Friday a "challenging" environment for Democrats in his home state but held out hope that his party's gubernatorial nominee could still rally the voters who helped President Obama win Virginia last November.
Kaine also downplayed anonymous quotes from administration officials about Democratic candidate Creigh Deeds that appeared Friday in The Washington Post. Unnamed administration officials told the paper that if Deeds loses, it will be his own fault for shunning White House advice and not doing enough to embrace President Obama on the campaign trail.
"I tend not to comment on the comments of unnamed sources," Kaine told CNN in a phone interview from Atlanta, where he was meeting with party activists. "We still have more work to do and it's challenging, but I know the president is very interested in the race. The president has been very solicitous."
Kaine said the president, whom he last spoke to about the race on Tuesday night, is "very excited" to make his second appearance for Deeds next week in Norfolk. The Virginia governor, a confidante of Obama since the early day's of his presidential campaign, said he talks to the president "a good bit" about the campaign but said he talks to Deeds more often, "every day, or every other day."
The DNC chair said Deeds' path to victory is clear: "Energizing the president's supporters, energizing those who approve of how Democrats are govering Virginia." Asked if Deeds has done a good enough job doing so in his race against Republican Bob McDonnell, Kaine said Deeds "is working hard to do so" but admitted that Democrats in the state aren't as excited for this election as they were one year ago.
"It is the case that last year was a catharsis for our side," he said. "It was that way nationally and in Virginia. I do think people are seeing stark differences between the two tickets. They are waking up a little late, but they're definitely waking up."
(CNN) - Doug Hoffman - the conservative third party candidate running in upstate New York's closely watched special congressional election - raked in $116,000 in the last 24 hours, a campaign spokesman confirmed to CNN.
The cash haul came the same day former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin made a surprise endorsement in the race, voicing her support of Hoffman over the Republican Party's nominee, Dede Scozzafava.
But Hoffman spokesman Rob Ryan said much of the cash came before Palin made her endorsement public Wednesday evening, and is more a sign of the campaign's growing momentum in the race's final days. Other conservatives have also recently aligned behind Hoffman, including former Rep. Dick Armey, former Sen. Rick Santorum, and Rep. Michele Bachmann.
In recent weeks, conservative activists have launched massive online efforts urging supporters to donate to Hoffman in the race's final days to send a message to Republican Party leadership.
"It's sort of like what you saw with Obama…when you hit a certain critical mass of media attention, and the bloggers writing about you and everything else, it starts driving the money," said Ryan.
The election to fill the House seat for New York's 23rd district arose after former Republican Rep. John M. McHugh resigned the post to become secretary of the army. The campaign has exposed division amongst the GOP over whether to support the more moderate Republican candidate or the upstart third-party challenger whose stances are more in line with those of the conservative base.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty said Thursday that his proposal to allow consumers to purchase health insurance across state lines is a "good idea" and is not intended to draw a contrast with President Obama's health care agenda in Washington.
Pawlenty, who is enhancing his national profile as he mulls a presidential run in 2012, argued that his plan would increase competition among insurance companies and drive down health care costs.
"It's not meant to contrast with anything other than to advance good ideas that will hopefully improve health care and the cost of health care and provide people more health care choices," he told reporters after a Washington fundraiser for his political action committee on Thursday evening.
The Minnesota governor sent a letter to the country's 49 other governors earlier this week urging them to band together to support his proposal.
"We are trying to promote good ideas, and I think those are good ideas," he said. "I don't think it's limited to being Republican or Democaat. We're hoping some Democratic governors will sign on to that as well."
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Sarah Palin and Tim Pawlenty, two Republicans widely viewed as possible 2012 White House hopefuls, weighed in Thursday night on the closely-watched special election in New York's 23rd congressional district. They chose very different approaches - but neither endorsed the GOP candidate.
Calling it a matter of principle, Palin - the 2008 GOP vice presidential candidate - bucked her party and enthusiastically endorsed Conservative Party candidate Doug Hoffman over Republican Dede Scozzafava. The race has attracted national attention, especially from grassroots activists who accuse Scozzafava of not being conservative enough to run under the Republican party mantle.
"Doug Hoffman stands for the principles that all Republicans should share: smaller government, lower taxes, strong national defense, and a commitment to individual liberty," the former Alaska governor wrote on her Facebook page. "Political parties must stand for something."
Palin then urged her supporters to donate to Hoffman, who she said "has not been anointed by any political machine."
Just minutes before she made the announcement, Pawlenty happened to be speaking to reporters in Washington after a fundraiser for his new political action committee. The Minnesota governor refused to make an endorsement when asked about the race.
"You know I haven't been following that, I haven't studied the race at all," he said. "It's not that I would or wouldn't, I just don't know anything about it. I haven't taken the time to study their positions, their records, so I haven't taken a position on it."
WASHINGTON (CNN) - The Republican Party's favorable rating among Americans is at lowest level in at least a decade, according to a new national poll.
Thirty-six percent of people questioned in a CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey released Friday say they have a favorable opinion of the Republican Party, with 54 percent viewing the GOP negatively.
According to the poll, 53 percent have a positive opinion of the Democratic Party, with 41 percent holding an unfavorable view. The survey indicates that favorable ratings for the Democrats have dropped 5 points since February, with the Republican number slipping 3 points.
"The Republican party may still be battling the legacy left to them by George W. Bush," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. "They have also spent a lot of time in 2009 working against Democratic proposals. That hasn't left them a lot of time so far this year to present a positive, post-Bush message. Of course, there is still plenty of time for them to do so before the 2010 midterms."
Nearly seven in ten people questioned say they disapprove of how Congress is handling its job, with 29 percent saying they approve. That's a drop of 6 points in the approval since April.
(CNN) - The mother of U.S. Senator and former presidential candidate John McCain is hospitalized in Lisbon, Portugal, after injuring her head in a fall, McCain's spokeswoman said Friday.
Roberta McCain, 97, was visiting Lisbon as a tourist when she fainted and hurt her head, spokeswoman Brooke Buchanan said.
McCain is stable and will be held for observation, Dr. Fatima Palmero of the Sao Jose Hospital told CNN. It is not clear when McCain might leave the hospital, Palermo said.
The senator has spoken to his mother and the doctors treating her, who report that she is recovering well, Buchanan said.
The Obama family portrait.
(Photo Credit: Annie Leibovitz/Released by White House Photo Office)
WASHINGTON (CNN) – The official first family portrait was unveiled Thursday on the White House Flickr page. The photo was snapped by renowned photographer Annie Leibovitz on September 1, 2009 in the Green Room of the White House.