(CNN) - The Republicans sparring for their party’s gubernatorial nod in California released dueling ads Wednesday that challenge one another’s conservative credentials.
California State Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner and former eBay CEO Meg Whitman have been engaged in a nasty primary battle that will come to an end on June 8 when Californians go to the polls.
In its latest salvo, Poizner’s camp says Whitman would prolong Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's policies. To make this point, Poizner’s new ad shows an image of Schwarzenegger's face as it morphs into Whitman's.
Rep. Tom McClintock, who endorsed Poizner early last month, also appears in the new ad.
"More spending, more environmental extremism, more bailouts at our expense," McClintock says. "I've watched Steve Poizner fight big government and I trust him. This isn't a close call, there's only one conservative in this race and his name is Steve Poizner."
Whitman’s campaign pushed back at the notion that she would continue the policies of the current governor.
"Strangely the only candidate in this race who has ever likened himself a 'Schwarzenegger Republican' is Steve Poizner," Whitman spokeswoman Sarah Pompei said in a statement.
Accusing Poizner of leading the state into a financial crisis, Whitman's campaign released its own ad Wednesday.
Macon, Missouri (CNN) - President Barack Obama donned a hard hat and goggles Wednesday to tour an ethanol plant in Missouri, then touted biofuel production and other alternative energy sources to free the United States from dependence on foreign oil.
On the second day of his two-day swing through Iowa, Missouri and Illinois, Obama told workers at the POET Biorefining plant in Macon that their work creates a stronger economy for the nation and their own community.
The president noted that tough economic conditions in Midwestern states have made it harder for middle-class Americans to get by, and have caused young people to move away due to a lack of opportunity.
He said the success story at the POET plant proves "that doesn't have to be the case."
"Here at POET, I believe that you're doing more than just helping stake America's claim on our future," Obama said. "I'm here to make sure that communities like this one have a bright future of opportunity going forward."
Washington (CNN) - Top Senate Democrats have said they intend to keep the Senate in session Wednesday night as they try to formally open debate on a financial regulatory reform bill.
"We think it's critical to get to the debate. We think Wall Street reform must get done and must get done now," said Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Maryland. "We suspect that (Republicans) want to weaken this bill."
Earlier Wednesday, Republicans turned back efforts to launch Senate debate on such a measure. It was the third vote in 48 hours on the motion and, for the third time, unanimous Republican opposition decided the outcome.
Cardin said he didn't believe Democrats would force a vote to break a GOP filibuster until Thursday morning at the earliest. He indicated that Democratic leaders believe they are running out of time, however, to pass financial reform before members turn their attention to the looming midterm elections.
Ideally Democrats and Republicans "should work together," Cardin said. But unless the Senate starts debating the bill, "we'll never be able to consider it in a timely manner."
Florida Gov. Charlie Crist will run for senator as an independent candidate. (PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images)
(CNN) – Florida Gov. Charlie Crist has decided to run as an independent rather than compete for the Republican Party nomination in his bid for the Senate, multiple sources tell CNN.
One of the sources, a fundraiser, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said that Crist has begun contacting financial supporters to tell them that he is running as a non-party affiliated candidate and to ask for their continued support.
Once the overwhelming favorite in the battle for the Republican Senate nomination, Crist is now trailing former Florida House Speaker Marco Rubio by more than 20 points, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released earlier this month.
Washington (CNN) - Bill Clinton is giving embattled investment bank Goldman Sachs the benefit of the doubt. Sort of.
The former president, who spoke Wednesday at a Peterson Foundation summit on the nation's fiscal plight, said he is "not at all sure that they did violate the law."
Goldman is facing fraud charges filed by the Securities and Exchange Commission. The government claims that Goldman failed to disclose key information when selling a complex mortgage security in 2007. The firm is accused of failing to disclose the participation of a hedge fund in creating an investment that was doomed to fail.
"These Goldman guys are mad because they think they were targeted," Clinton told CBS anchor Bob Schieffer, who served as the questioner during the Clinton session.
At the same time, Clinton questioned the broader social utility of the investment at issue in the Goldman case – known as a derivative.
Washington (CNNMoney.com) - Senate Democrats failed Wednesday – for the third time in less than 48 hours – to muster the 60 votes needed to start debating Wall Street reform.
The official vote was 56-42 in favor of moving forward. All 40 Republicans present in the chamber joined with two Democrats, Sen. Ben Nelson of Nebraska and Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada in voting against. Reid's vote was a procedural move that allows him, under the Senate rules, to bring the bill up again this week.
(CNN) - Laura Bush is suggesting she, her husband, and several aides were poisoned during a 2007 visit to Germany for the G8 summit – one of several new details in the former first lady's forthcoming memoir, "Spoken from the Heart."
Due to hit bookshelves May 4 but purchased by CNN at a Washington-area bookstore, Mrs. Bush says she and former President George W. Bush became mysteriously sick on the Germany trip to such a degree that the president became bedridden.
According to Mrs. Bush, doctors and the Secret Service investigated the possibility a poisoning had occurred but were unable to make a definitive conclusion.
News reports filed during the event show the White House did disclose Bush missed a series of morning sessions at the summit because he had contracted an apparent virus, but White House officials did not provide further details at that time.
"Nearly a dozen members of our delegation were stricken, even George, who started to feel sick during an early morning staff briefing," Mrs. Bush writes. "[O]ne of our military aides had difficulty walking and a White House staffer lost all hearing in one ear. Exceedingly alarmed, the Secret Service went on full alert, combing the resort for potential poisons."
"George felt so ill that he met with [French President Nicolas] Sarkozy and did not even stand up to greet him," she continues, adding later, "We never learned if any other delegations became ill, or if ours, mysteriously, was the only one."
Excerpts of the book were first published by the New York Times Tuesday.
The 432-page memoir is both a recount of the unique experience of being a first lady and a reflection of the eight years she spent in the White House as her husband's popularity gradually declined. But among the book's most poignant passages are those that delve into Mrs. Bush's involvement in a tragic 1963 car collision in Midland, Texas that killed her good friend who happened to be driving the other car.
(CNN) - A controversial new immigration law in Arizona might impact the vote in the mid-term elections later this year. For one, it could energize Hispanics and bring them out in large numbers to vote. University of Virginia political scientist Larry Sabato says it's too soon to tell exactly what the impact might be.
TAMPA, Florida (CNN) - It appears the ongoing speculation about Florida Gov. Charlie Crist's political future will come to an end Thursday evening in St. Petersburg.
The embattled Senate candidate has scheduled a campaign event in his hometown, in which he is expected to announce whether he intends to remain a Republican or seek the office as an independent.
Crist's campaign is calling it "a candidate qualifying event," but is not saying what the governor intends to announce. As of Tuesday, some GOP sources close to Crist were not sure if the governor had even made up his mind about his next step.
Crist trails his GOP primary opponent Marco Rubio badly in the polls and has signaled in recent weeks that he is pivoting away from Republican dogma and moving toward an independent bid.
Washington (CNN) – Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown, who made his pickup truck a successful campaign prop earlier this year, is being accused by a liberal interest group of trading it in for a limousine following his votes against moving forward on the Democrat's financial reform bill.
Americans United for Change makes the charge against the new Republican senator in a 15 second TV commercial set to run over two days on three Boston area cable channels: CNN, FOX and MSNBC, an Americans United spokesman tells CNN. The ad, which the spokesman acknowledged is a small buy, will begin airing on Wednesday.
"When Scott Brown ran for Senate he said he was a guy from Wrentham, Massachusetts that rode around in a truck," an announcer says. "Now he's voting like a guy from Wall Street who drives around in a limo. Tell Scott Brown to stop voting with Wall Street. Time to hold the big banks accountable."
Gail Gitcho, Brown's spokeswoman, took issue with the ad saying it is false to say that Brown opposes financial reform as well as the accusation his campaign was fueled by special interests. She noted that 150,000 people donated to his campaign, with the average donation less than $100. Brown raised $14 million in his successful bid to fill the late Sen. Edward Kennedy's seat.