December 26th, 2007
05:34 AM ET
7 years ago

CNN Political Ticker AM, Wednesday, December 26, 2007

For the latest, breaking political news, check for updates throughout the day at http://www.CNNPolitics.com. All Politics, all the time.

Making news today:

WASHINGTON (CNN) - Say good-bye to peace on earth, and goodwill among men: Christmas is over, and the presidential campaign has hit the homestretch.

With just over a week to go until the Iowa caucuses, most of the candidates are spending the day in the Hawkeye State, with a few notable exceptions.

For the next two days, Mitt Romney is campaigning in New Hampshire – a state that was supposed to be his firewall. John Edwards is also stumping in the Granite State today. And Rudy Giuliani, who is looking past the earliest contests, is spending the day in Florida.

Back in the Hawkeye State, everyone’s still trying to parse the American Research Group’s Christmas Eve surprise: a new poll that seemed to show Huckabee losing, and Hillary Clinton gaining, big leads in their respective races.  Full Story

An outlier, or a sneak peek at the late shape of the race? The answer’s just days away.

– CNN Associate Political Editor Rebecca Sinderbrand
***

Now you can take the Best Political Team with you anytime, anywhere. Subscribe to the “Best Political Podcast” for extensive coverage of the 2008 election.  Best Political Podcast

===============================================================

Political Hot Topics
(Today's top political stories from news organizations across the country)

Compiled by Lindsey Pope & Jonathan Helman
CNN Washington Bureau

NY Times: Edwards Gets Demerits For Tardiness On The Trail
It seemed as if everybody in the northeast Iowa town of Manchester had squeezed into the Cedar Lodge Steakhouse one night this month for a John Edwards event. Everyone, that is, except Mr. Edwards. Forty-five minutes after he was scheduled to arrive, Mr. Edwards had yet to show up, and his campaign’s county coordinator, Judy McMahon, was onstage, gamely trying to keep the crowd occupied.

LA Times: Romney's Running Mate - His Father
The admired public servant, undone by an offhand comment, is both a role model and cautionary example for the family's newest GOP presidential candidate.

Reuters: Student Break Makes Christmas Tough For U.S. Campaigns
A clash between Christmas vacations and the U.S. election calendar has left presidential campaigns in Iowa struggling with a shortage of student volunteers to call voters, distribute pamphlets and drive people to the polls.

NY Daily News: Democratic 'Also-Rans' Not Giving Up
Bolstered by Iowan idealism, the knowledge that it's nearly impossible to accurately poll the caucuses and an election history replete with startling upsets, supporters of caucus also-rans Dodd, Joe Biden and Bill Richardson are still doggedly looking on the bright side.

Wall Street Journal: Campaigns Hit the Road in Iowa, New Hampshire to Make Final Pitch
Republican and Democratic presidential contenders are back in action today for the home stretch leading to next week's Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primary a week later. Where they head first may reveal something about their short-term strategy.

Washington Post: Courting Students, And Hoping They'll Actually Cast Votes
Many of the presidential candidates have actively courted young voters, sending them text messages, visiting college campuses and launching Web sites that explain the complicated caucus process. The goal is not only to win over these voters but, just as critically, to get the ripe but unreliable group to turn up at caucus sites, perhaps hundreds of miles from their homes.

Washington Times: Huckabee's Illegal-Alien Enforcement Record Hit
Mike Huckabee is overselling his record of cracking down on illegal aliens as governor, claiming he ordered his state police to arrest illegal aliens when in fact he never signed the agreement with federal authorities that would have allowed it.

Boston Globe: Grass-Roots Activists Fill Void Within GOP
Social and economic conservatives, two key Republican blocs, have yet to unite behind a common candidate, depriving groups such as the Christian Coalition of a rallying point. That uncertainty has caused grass-roots activists to go follow their own path, often at odds with party elites. 

Wall Street Journal: 'HILLARYLAND’ Clinton's Right-Hand Woman Scrambles for a Win in Iowa
With snow and sleet pounding her hotel window, campaign manager Patti Solis Doyle dialed in to an early-morning strategy debate a few weeks ago among the top advisers of Hillary Clinton, who were bickering over stumbles that had caused Sen. Clinton to lose her edge in Iowa opinion polls.

Boston Globe: N.H. Democrats, GOP Sharply Divided On Healthcare
Most Americans believe healthcare is a critical issue the next president must tackle, but in New Hampshire, the first primary state, there's a sharp partisan split over government's role in making healthcare available.

New Hampshire Union-Leader: On The Trail: Richardson Touts His Plans For Jobs And Education
With the state's primary drawing near, presidential hopeful Bill Richardson covered more than 400 miles in two days recently, touting his plan for jobs and education, two issues he says are unsatisfactorily addressed by the other candidates.

Washington Post: Not Relevant? Sharpton Scoffs at the Idea
For Al Sharpton, the hyperkinetic pace of his past year and the pleas for support from presidential aspirants provide the answer to the question some are posing: How does Al Sharpton remain relevant in a Barack Obama world?

Washington Post: Sooner or Later, Candidates Will Surely Look Lost
They have become a useful, though very tricky, class of images in this roller-coaster ride of a presidential campaign. Call them the "hangdog" candidate photographs: They capture the politician with eyes downcast, looking tired, stressed.

Washington Post: Freshmen Padding Their Independence
Half a dozen freshman Democrats took to the House floor one late-October morning to cast their lot with Republicans.

AP: Clinton, Obama: Coverage vs. cost
Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama intensified the bickering yesterday over their competing health plans, reflecting the crucial stakes as Iowa's leadoff caucuses in early January approach.

===============================================================

On the Trail:

Compiled by Lauren Kornreich and Katy Byron
CNN Washington Bureau

* Hillary Clinton kicks off her "Big Challenges, Real Solutions – Time To Pick A President" Tour with President Bill Clinton, Gov. Tom Vilsack and his wife, Christie in Mount Pleasant, Iowa. Later, she holds campaign events in Pella and Cumming.

* Barack Obama kicks off a bus tour through Iowa with a town hall meeting in Mason City, Iowa. Later, he meets with Iowans in Webster City, and holds rallies in Fort Dodge and Carroll.

* Rudy Giuliani participates in a roundtable discussion with veterans at American Legion Post 119 in Largo, Florida.

* Mike Huckabee goes pheasant hunting at High Prairie Farm in Osceola, Iowa.

* John McCain holds a town hall meeting at the School for the Deaf in Council Bluffs, Iowa.

* John Edwards holds town hall meetings in Conway and Laconia, New Hampshire. He continues to stump through the Granite State with stops in Manchester and Salem.

* Bill Richardson holds Presidential Job Interviews in Council Bluffs, Onawa and Sioux City, Iowa. He meets with Iowans at the Dunlap Livestock Auction in Dunlap.

* Mitt Romney campaigns in New Hampshire, meeting with local voters in Henniker and Hooksett. Later, he holds an "Ask Mitt Anything" town hall in Merrimack.

* Fred Thompson meets with local voters at The Windrow in Creston, Iowa.

* The Senate Radio-Television Correspondents' Gallery Daybook:

* The House Radio-Television Correspondents' Gallery Daybook:


Filed under: AM Political Ticker
December 25th, 2007
05:59 AM ET
7 years ago

CNN Political Ticker AM

For the latest, breaking political news, check for updates throughout the day at CNNPolitics.com. All Politics, all the time.

Making News Today:

Four polls, no frontrunners, and a partridge in a pear tree

Twas Christmas morning
And all through the land
Little children are asking
Where does this race stand?

In the national poll of polls for the Democrats - an average of four national polls taken in the last two weeks - Hillary Clinton has a healthy 19-point lead over Barack Obama, with John Edwards running third.

But the Democratic race looks very different in the early states.

Four Iowa caucus polls average out to a slight Obama lead over Clinton. In fact, it's a very close three-way race in Iowa - Obama 30, Clinton 28, Edwards 22. Any of them could win. And the four latest New Hampshire polls show Clinton narrowly ahead of Obama. Two polls show Clinton leading, one shows Obama slightly ahead, one shows a tie in New Hampshire. Again, anything could happen.

Clinton's frontrunner status looks shaky in those key early voting states.

Rudy Giuliani's ahead if you average the four latest national polls. Four other candidates - Mike Huckabee, Mitt Romney, John McCain and Fred Thompson - all bunched together behind Giuliani.

But again: in the early states, a different story entirely.

In Iowa, Huckabee's ahead, with Romney running second. Giuliani's a weak fourth. In New Hampshire, Romney's ahead, with McCain breathing down his neck. Giuliani's third. And Huckabee? A weak fourth in the Granite State.

So are Hillary Clinton and Rudy Giuliani the frontrunners? Only in national polls. But there's no national primary. Full Story

***

Now you can take the Best Political Team with you anytime, anywhere. Subscribe to the “Best Political Podcast” for extensive coverage of the 2008 election. Best Political Podcast

===============================================================

Political Hot Topics
(Today's top political stories from news organizations across the country)

Compiled by Lindsey Pope and Jonathan Helman
CNN Washington Bureau

New York Times: Democrats Try to Rein In Fees on Consulting
It was the spring of 2004, and Senator John Kerry had just secured the Democratic presidential nomination. But as huge sums of money began pouring into his campaign, his top strategists had more on their minds than just getting ready for a tough race against President Bush.

New York Times: When Private Struggles Become Public Displays
…as the Republican and Democratic candidates engage in personal politicking in Iowa and New Hampshire, holding town-hall-style meetings open to everyone, they are often confronted with the most intimate of problems from the people who come out to see them.

Des Moines Register: Dodd Mixes Politics, Holiday Service
Chris Dodd played Santa on a Christmas Eve visit in Iowa, filling boxes of goodies for shipment to Iowa soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan before slipping into the more familiar role of presidential candidate.

Chicago Tribune: 'Twas the Week Before Caucuses
Sarah Huckabee, daughter of the Republican presidential candidate and Iowa front-runner Mike Huckabee, decided along with the staff of four that runs the Huckabee campaign office in Iowa to remain through the holiday. "If one of us is going to stay, all of us are going stay," she said, near a banner that read "Merry Christmas and a Huckabee New Year."

Politico: Huckabee Runs As GOP Rebel
To spend a day with Mike Huckabee on the campaign trail is to hear echoes of his three insurgent predecessors.

Chicago Tribune: Romney's Big Ad Buys Don't Pre-Empt Foes
As of Dec. 16, the Romney campaign had spent $16 million on television advertising …Yet the former Massachusetts governor is struggling in national polls against Mike Huckabee and Rudy Giuliani, who had spent $600,000 and $2.3 million respectively, according to the same data.

LA Times: Romney's Running Mate - His Father
Mitt Romney's biggest personal successes are in Massachusetts, where he attended graduate school at Harvard, raised his family, ran Boston's Bain Capital investment group and was elected governor. But it is here in auto-heavy Michigan where Romney cut his teeth in business and politics.

Quad City Times: Will First-Time Caucus Goers Show Up?
Hattie Irving, an 81-year old Iowan, has never participated in her state's presidential caucuses, but she plans to this time _ to support Hillary Rodham Clinton.

AP: Dems, GOP Set Gubernatorial Money Records
The major parties are raising record amounts of cash as they prepare for gubernatorial campaign showdowns in 11 states next year.

===============================================================

On the Trail:

Compiled by Lauren Kornreich and Katy Byron
CNN Washington Bureau

Candidates are opening gifts, drinking eggnog, and getting some much needed rest before the sprint to Iowa.

* The Senate Radio-Television Correspondents' Gallery Daybook

* The House Radio-Television Correspondents' Gallery Daybook


Filed under: AM Political Ticker
December 24th, 2007
05:52 AM ET
7 years ago

CNN Political Ticker AM

For the latest, breaking political news, check for updates throughout the day at http://www.CNNPolitics.com. All Politics, all the time.

Making News Today:

All quiet on the campaign trail

WASHINGTON (CNN) - It’s the day before Christmas, and the only candidate stirring is Chris Dodd; the rest of the presidential field has abandoned the trail until Wednesday.

The seasonal endorsement derby took a few interesting turns Sunday. The Sioux City Journal – which serves the rural Iowa voters Barack Obama is making a special effort to reach – gave him their backing in the Democratic contest, while the state’s Quad City Times backed Hillary Clinton.

On the Republican side, Mitt Romney received the Sioux City Journal’s nod, and John McCain was the choice of the Quad City Times. But the big GOP endorsement news this weekend was back east in New Hampshire, where McCain nabbed the backing of the Nashua Telegraph – and Romney was on the receiving end of a rare, and brutal, anti-endorsement (headline: ‘Romney should not be the next president’) from the Concord Monitor.

More head-turning news out of the Granite State: a Boston Globe/University of New Hampshire survey of Granite State voters released Sunday found the Democratic and Republican races all tied at the top, statistically speaking: Obama is at 30 percent to Clinton’s 28 percent, and Mitt Romney is at 28 percent to John McCain’s 25.

– CNN Associate Political Editor Rebecca Sinderbrand

***

Now you can take the Best Political Team with you anytime, anywhere. Subscribe to the “Best Political Podcast” for extensive coverage of the 2008 election.   Best Political Podcast

===============================================================

Political Hot Topics
(Today's top political stories from news organizations across the country)

Compiled by Lindsey Pope and Jonathan Helman
CNN Washington Bureau

New York Times: With Nod to Holidays, Candidates Keep a Vigorous Pace Before the Break
If there were any doubts how competitive the presidential race remained, fresh proof could be found Sunday in the itineraries of Senators Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama, who risked testing the holiday patience of voters as they campaigned across Iowa before suspending politicking for a Christmas break.

CNN: New Hampshire Paper: Romney 'Must Be Stopped'
In unusually stark language, the newspaper in New Hampshire's capital calls former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney "a phony" and tells its readers Sunday that he "most surely must be stopped" in next month's first-in-the-nation primary.

AP: Romney Lashes Out at McCain in N.H.
With John McCain on vacation and Rudy Giuliani occupied elsewhere in the state, Mitt Romney sought this weekend to close the deal with New Hampshire Republicans who remain undecided about his presidential candidacy.

LA Times: Romney's Lead Slipping In N.H. Too
As recently as last week, Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney seemed to be holding a secure lead in New Hampshire, even as he was losing ground to former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee in Iowa.

Washington Post: Romney Strategy in Peril With Huckabee's Ascent
A year ago, former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney gathered his campaign team for the first time at his suburban Boston home. There were PowerPoint presentations, and Ann Romney made sandwiches. "It was like the first day of school," said one senior-level participant.

USA Today: Pragmatism Has Paid Off For Huckabee
During Mike Huckabee's decade as governor, Arkansas got new roads, a revamped state school system, a children's health care program and other items forged with a Democratic-dominated Legislature.

LA Times: Huckabee Campaigning For 23% Sales Tax
Mike Huckabee, one of the most conservative Republicans in the 2008 presidential race, has embraced one of the most radical ideas on the campaign trail: a plan to abolish all federal income and payroll taxes and replace them with a single 23% national sales tax.

USA Today: Subdued GOP Activity In Iowa Reflects Uncertainty
The level of Republican enthusiasm surrounding the 2008 campaign has not approached the level of eight years ago or the Democrats' race this year, reflecting a struggle among voters to find the right candidate, Iowa GOP leaders say.

Des Moines Register: Democrats Ratchet Up Message Of Electability
For the past 11 months, Democratic caucusgoers in Iowa have heard two words – "change" and "experience" – over and over. For the next 11 days, they will hear this one the most: "electability."

Wall Street Journal: GOP Contest Heats Up in New Hampshire
The Republican primary in New Hampshire next month is shaping up to be as frantic and unpredictable as the race in Iowa, though focusing on a different set of issues and cast of characters.

NY Daily News: Rudy Giuliani And Hillary Clinton Rub New Hampshire Voters The Wrong Way
Giuliani, like Hillary Clinton, came to New Hampshire draped in celebrity and expectation. Each, in their own way, began their effort behaving like incumbents instead of job applicants.

Reuters: Clinton Urges Iowa Voters to Caucus on Wrong Day
Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton may have shot herself in the foot trying to get Iowa voters to pledge support to her - she is encouraging them to caucus on January 14, 11 days too late.

Washington Times: In Iowa, Women Cool To Hillary
Not far from where the famed "Field of Dreams" lies under a white ice blanket, Iowa voters are wondering whether Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's hopes of winning here are as desolate as the hibernating movie-set ballpark-turned-tourist attraction.

Washington Post: Christmas Cheer, Campaigns an Awkward Mix For Iowa Voters
Chris Dodd, the Democratic senator from Connecticut, has been rolling across Iowa in what he calls the "Twelve Days of Results" tour. It's like the 12 Days of Christmas - only with themes such as "Results To Protect Homeowners" replacing all that "10 Lords a-Leaping" business.

USA Today: Iowans Gather 'Round For Holiday Politicking
The head-on collision of holiday festivities and high-stakes politics is extreme this year even for Iowa, where every four winters people pretty much expect to run into presidential hopefuls at the diner or even their neighbor's house.

USA Today: Some Voters Don't Have To Wait For Election Year
In less than two weeks, Iowans will caucus to make their choice for the next president. Under media klieg lights and political scrutiny, they're proud to be the first voters in the nation to do so.  Make that second-in-the-nation. Florida is already voting.

Washington Post: As Holiday Break Nears, Obama and Edwards Spar Over Outside Groups
In a final day of campaigning before suspending their campaigns for Christmas, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) encouraged voters here Sunday to view the holiday as a time to become "instruments of peace and change," while Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) accused former senator John Edwards (D-N.C.) of using outside groups to shape an intense three-way race.

Boston Globe: In Shifting Race, Edwards Aims For The Gut
John Edwards, who long has found common cause with Barack Obama in portraying Hillary Clinton as a defender of the Washington status quo, is now trying to distinguish himself from Obama by saying the Illinois senator lacks the toughness to upend the Washington order.

USA Today: Democrats Hustle To Get Iowa Voters To Polls
Democratic presidential candidate Bill Richardson said he had campaigned in 98 of the state's 99 counties when his staff informed him he hadn't been to Keokuk.

New York Times: Giuliani Hits a Rocky Stretch as Voting Approaches
Rudolph W. Giuliani has entered a turbulent period in his campaign for the Republican presidential nomination, marked by what his aides acknowledge are missteps, sharp shifts in strategy and evidence that reports about his personal life have hurt his national standing.

AP: Giuliani's Loss Set Stage For Success
Rudy Giuliani revels in a reputation for being unstoppable – the bold prosecutor of mobsters and crooked politicians, the dauntless mayor at the World Trade Center. And now a Republican presidential contender.

Politico: Ron Paul Won't Rule Out Third-Party Run
Republican presidential hopeful Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) refused to rule out the possibility he may run as a third-party candidate during an appearance Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

New Hampshire Union-Leader: Opposition To Iraq War A Campaign Theme
Outside Riley's Gun Shop, there are several signs supporting Republican presidential candidates, but the largest one belongs to Ron Paul's campaign.

Chicago Tribune: When It Comes To The Issues, It's Still Red Vs. Blue
Your typical Mitt Romney crowd is as curious about ending the Iraq war as your typical Bill Richardson crowd is about killing the estate tax - which is to say, hardly at all.

New York Times: Democrats Make Bush School Act an Election Issue
Teachers cheered Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton when she stepped before them last month at an elementary school in Waterloo, Iowa, and said she would “end” the No Child Left Behind Act because it was “just not working.”

Chicago Tribune: In South Carolina, Blacks Savor Electoral Clout
Jesse Jackson Jr. was bound and determined to get some unregistered voters on the rolls. If only he could find them.

AP: Report: Hoover Had Arrest Plan For Disloyals
Former FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover had a plan to suspend the rules against illegal detention and arrest up to 12,000 Americans he suspected of being disloyal, according to a newly declassified document.

===============================================================

On the Trail:

Compiled by Lauren Kornreich and Katy Byron
CNN Washington Bureau

*Democrat Chris Dodd will talk about the importance of service to both the community and the country, and assemble care packages to send to Iowa National Guardsmen that have been deployed overseas, at a Shelter House at the Main and Bluff South Side Park in Carroll, Iowa.

* The Senate Radio-Television Correspondents' Gallery Daybook

* The House Radio-Television Correspondents' Gallery Daybook 


Filed under: AM Political Ticker
December 21st, 2007
06:04 AM ET
7 years ago

TICKER MORNING EDITION: December 21, 2007

Des Moines, Dubuque and... Shreveport?

WASHINGTON (CNN) - Most of the major presidential candidates, Democratic and Republican, are spending the closing days of this year-long battle for the White House in Iowa and New Hampshire.

Today, Mike Huckabee, Fred Thompson, Barack Obama, John Edwards, Chris Dodd, Bill Richardson, and Joe Biden are all in the Hawkeye State. Mitt Romney, and Hillary Clinton are in New Hampshire.

Then there's John McCain, who is stumping in Louisiana - where voters don’t weigh in until after Super Tuesday - and his home state of Arizona.

Back in a more traditional campaign mecca, the GOP candidates have successfully courted most of the big-name Palmetto State endorsers. But one of the biggest remains unspoken for.

With just a month to go until Palmetto State Republicans head to the polls – and five primary candidates pulling double-digit support in most recent surveys – “Could an eleventh hour endorsement for president by Mark Sanford, the state's Republican governor, put a GOP hopeful over the top?” Click here for the full story.

– Associate Political Editor Rebecca Sinderbrand


Filed under: AM Political Ticker
December 20th, 2007
05:41 AM ET
7 years ago

CNN Political Ticker AM

For the latest, breaking political news, check for updates throughout the day at http://www.CNNPolitics.com. All Politics, all the time.

Making news today:

Giuliani taken to hospital with flu-like symptoms

(CNN) - Republican presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani was taken to a hospital in St. Louis, Missouri, with flu-like symptoms and is spending the night there, a Giuliani spokesman confirmed to CNN early Thursday.

Giuliani - who had been campaigning in Missouri on Wednesday - became ill and then felt worse after his plane took off to return to New York.

He decided to return to the airport, consulted his personal physician, and then went to Barnes-Jewish Hospital, where he was admitted.  Full Story

***

Huckabee leads in new CNN Iowa poll

WASHINGTON (CNN) - Mike Huckabee stands atop the Republican standings in a new CNN/Opinion Research Corporation Poll of Iowa voters released Thursday morning.

Huckabee has the support of 33 percent of likely GOP caucus goers polled, followed by Mitt Romney with 25 percent. Rudy Giuliani comes in third with 11 percent, and John McCain and Fred Thompson are tied for fourth with 9 percent.

Meanwhile, the race for the Democratic nomination in Iowa remains neck and neck, with the top three candidates separated by just a handful of percentage points in the new CNN survey. Hillary Clinton has the support of 30 percent of likely Democratic caucus goers, while Barack Obama receives 28 percent, and John Edwards collects 26 percent. In other words: given the poll’s 4 percent margin of error, there’s a dead heat in the Hawkeye State, with two weeks to go until the state’s first-in-the-nation caucuses.  Full Story

Back to the Republican contest, we wait to officially hear what presidential hopeful Tom Tancredo has to say about his campaign this afternoon. Keep an eye on CNN and the CNN Political Ticker for the latest on his announcement.

Finally: there’s been a sudden outbreak of holiday cheer among the presidential field, with seasonal campaign spots  hitting the airwaves from Dover to Des Moines. Here’s the official Christmas ad count so far:

* Tastefully decorated trees: 4 (Huckabee, Edwards, Obama, and Giuliani)
* Sweater/sweater vests in festive Yuletide red: 2 (Huckabee and Giuliani).
* Candidate wrapping her own gifts: 1 (Clinton)
* Cute kids: 2 (both Obama’s, plus stockings hung by the chimney with care)
* Guest appearance from Santa Claus: 1 (Giuliani)

***

Now you can take the Best Political Team with you anytime, anywhere. Subscribe to the “Best Political Podcast” for extensive coverage of the 2008 election.   Best Political Podcast

===============================================================

Political Hot Topics
(Today's top political stories from news organizations across the country)

Compiled by Lindsey Pope
CNN Washington Bureau

Washington Post: Surging Huckabee Takes Lead in Iowa Over Romney
The race before Iowa's Republican caucuses has narrowed to a two-person contest between former governors Mike Huckabee of Arkansas and Mitt Romney of Massachusetts, with Huckabee now perched atop the field, propelled by a big jump in support among religious women. 

Wall Street Journal: Ahead of Iowa, Republican Race Is Wide Open
Two weeks before the Iowa caucus, the race for president, while tightening among Democrats, is wide open on the Republican side, highlighting the unusual fluidity of the first campaign for the White House in over a half-century that doesn't include an incumbent president or vice president.

New Hampshire Union-Leader: Polls Show Mccain Gains
Today, McCain is the underdog, but two polls show him gaining ground in the Granite State after a week of endorsements from major media, from former Democratic vice presidential candidate Joe Lieberman, and from a former secretary of state to two presidents, Henry Kissinger.

Denver Post: Tancredo Set To Quit Race
Rep. Tom Tancredo plans to withdraw from the GOP presidential field today, ending a campaign in which he failed to gain much attention or traction as rivals largely adopted his long-held immigration positions.

New York Times: In Charity and Politics, Clinton Donors Overlap
Over the last decade, former President Bill Clinton has raised more than $500 million for his foundation, allowing him to build a glass-and-steel presidential library in Little Rock, Ark., and burnish his image as an impresario of global philanthropy. The foundation has closely guarded the identities of its donors — including one who gave $31.3 million last year.

The Hill: Lobbyists On Obama’s ’08 Payroll
Three political aides on Sen. Barack Obama’s (D-Ill.) payroll were registered lobbyists for dozens of corporations, including Wal-Mart, British Petroleum and Lockheed Martin, while they received payments from his campaign, according to public documents.

USA Today: Outside Groups Seek Inside Track To White House
Since Nov. 1, independent groups have spent nearly $2.2 million on television advertising, polling, direct-mail and turnout efforts, according to reports filed with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) that detail last-minute political spending.

Gannett News: Tougher Voter ID Laws Fuel Debate
Choosing a 2008 presidential candidate might be confusing enough, but some voters will face an additional challenge next year — remembering to bring the right identification to the polls. 

New York Times: Obama’s Vote in Illinois Was Often Just ‘Present’
In 1999, Barack Obama was faced with a difficult vote in the Illinois legislature — to support a bill that would let some juveniles be tried as adults, a position that risked drawing fire from African-Americans, or to oppose it, possibly undermining his image as a tough-on-crime moderate.

New York Times: Obama and Clinton Touch On International Matters
Senators Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama waded into international concerns Wednesday, with Mrs. Clinton being less conditional that nearly all American troops in Iraq could be withdrawn “certainly within a year” if she were elected president, and Mr. Obama calling for banning toy imports from China.

AP: Kerrey Apologizes to Obama Over Remark
Former Nebraska Sen. Bob Kerrey has apologized to Barack Obama for any unintentional insult he committed by raising the Democratic presidential candidate's Muslim heritage while endorsing rival candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton.

LA Times: Clinton Toeing The Line Of Campaign Negativity
Clinton doesn't tell Iowa voters that in his younger days, her chief rival for the Democratic nomination behaved badly. She never lays out incidents from Sen. Barack Obama's past that could be exploited in a general election contest; doing so might be considered an unseemly personal attack.

Washington Post: Will Enough Men Stand By This Woman?
As the world of politics fixates on the women's vote in this cycle, there looms a question: What about the guys?

Des Moines Register: Clinton Pledges To Stand Up To Oil-Rich Nations
Hillary Clinton promised Tuesday morning, in the town of Independence, that she will send a defiant message to oil-producing countries during her inaugural address, if she’s elected president.

Quad City Times: Edwards' Ad Draws Criticism In Iowa
A new ad praising Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards for his positions on behalf of American workers is coming under fire by rival Bill Richardson’s campaign, which says Edwards invested in a fund they allege has a role in the shutdown of Newton-based manufacturer Maytag.

Chicago Tribune’s The Swamp: Huckabee Tells Iowans: Show You Can't Be Bought
Republican Mike Huckabee challenged Iowans to back him over rival Mitt Romney to show that money can't buy support and to help save the state's first-in-the-nation caucuses in the future.

AP: Romney Aligns Himself With Bush in Iowa
Republican Mitt Romney aligned himself squarely with President Bush and his national security policies Wednesday, reaching out to GOP loyalists who hold the president in high regard, back the Iraq war and could sway the high-stakes nomination race.

LA Times: Falling Polls Lead Giuliani To Retool His Campaign Plans
With Rudy Giuliani’s lead shrinking in national polls, and even in Florida, according to some measures, Giuliani is retooling.

Wall Street Journal: Giuliani Still Leads in Florida, But Not by Very Much Now
After a poll last week showed Mike Huckabee overtaking Rudy Giuliani in the Republican contest in Florida - the state on which Mr. Giuliani has banked his candidacy - two more polls this week put the former New York mayor in the lead, but not by much.

Boston Globe: Mccain Embraces Laid-Back Approach To Office
Asked on a visit to a corporate headquarters which president best represented the United States, John McCain whisked through the pantheon of Republican heroes – Abraham Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, Ronald Reagan – before settling on a Democrat he saluted for being a "gutsy old guy."

New York Times: Thompson Picks Up the Pace Across Iowa
At a campaign event here on Wednesday, a supporter of Fred D. Thompson started to ask a question, but didn’t get very far. “If you’re the nominee,” the questioner began, “I’ll have no problem voting for you.”

Politico: Fred Thompson: Lazy As Charged
When is retail politics not retail politics? When candidates refuse to get off their big buses and go do it.

New Hampshire Union-Leader: Clinton Launching New Hampshire Campaign Blitz
'Twas the week before Christmas, when all through the state, presidential candidates were stirring... trying to create one last impression before the holiday break.

LA Times: She Only Has Ayes For Biden
Teri Hawks Goodmann is a longtime foot soldier for Biden on Iowa's eastern frontier. She was there when he sought the presidency in 1987. Two decades later, she campaigns for him again in her hometown.

Wall Street Journal: The Endless Campaign By KARL ROVE
The Iowa caucuses are 14 days away, with the New Hampshire primary five days later. And what follows from there won't be pretty. The way Americans are selecting our

AP: Former Rep. Mckinney Seeks Presidency
Former Democratic Rep. Cynthia McKinney, who was ousted from office last year after a headline-grabbing scuffle with a Capitol Hill police officer, has decided to seek the presidency — as a Green Party candidate.

Roll Call: DCCC Targets 40 GOP Seats
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, convinced that its vulnerable incumbents are now well-positioned for re-election, is shifting its focus to the growing list of Republican open seats, DCCC Chairman, Rep. Chris Van Hollen (Md.) said in an interview Wednesday.

Washington Post: Key Setbacks Dim Luster of Democrats' Year
The first Democratic-led Congress in a dozen years limped out of Washington last night with a lengthy list of accomplishments, from the first increase in fuel-efficiency standards in a generation to the first minimum-wage hike in a decade.

===============================================================

On the Trail:

Compiled by Lauren Kornreich and Katy Byron
CNN Washington Bureau

* Fred Thompson continues his bus tour through Iowa with stops in Carroll and Denison. Later, he participates in a radio town hall meeting in Atlantic, and drops by the Missouri Valley Times-News in Missouri Valley. In the evening, he meets with local residents in Council Bluffs.

* Hillary Clinton continues to hold Every Caucus Counts events in Grundy Center, Tipton, Centerville and Burlington, Iowa.

* John Edwards holds "Countdown to Caucus" events in Council Bluffs, Le Mars and Sioux City, Iowa.

* Mike Huckabee meets with locals in Marshalltown, Dike, Waterloo and Manchester. Later, he attends a dinner with the Iowa Christian Alliance in Cedar Rapids.

* Barack Obama attends campaign events in Exeter, Portsmouth and Rochester, New Hampshire.

* Ron Paul heads to Plymouth, New Hampshire, for a walk, a lunch with residents and a discussion with local doctors. Later, he holds a town hall meeting in Berlin, New Hampshire.

* Bill Richardson talks about Iraq in Waverly, Oelwein, Independence and Cedar Rapids, Iowa. He also delivers a speech on veterans, and their families in Waterloo.

* Mitt Romney holds a town hall meeting at the Indianola Country Club in Indianola, Iowa. Later, he holds "Strategy for a Stronger America: National Security" events in Fort Dodge, Orange City and Council Bluffs.

* Chris Dodd campaigns in Iowa, with stops in Council Bluffs and Des Moines.

* Tom Tancredo makes a major announcement about his campaign at the Marriott in Des Moines, Iowa.

* Joe Biden speaks at a Java with Joe event at the Woodbury County Truman Club in Sioux City, Iowa. Later, he speaks at Caucus Countdown events in Mason City, Webster City and Marion.

* The Senate Radio-Television Correspondents' Gallery Daybook

* The House Radio-Television Correspondents' Gallery Daybook


Filed under: AM Political Ticker
December 18th, 2007
05:48 AM ET
7 years ago

CNN Political Ticker AM

For the latest, breaking political news, check for updates throughout the day at http://www.CNNPolitics.com. All Politics, all the time.

Making news today:

Two weeks and counting…

It’s high campaign season, and most of the major presidential candidates are in Iowa, New Hampshire or South Carolina today, but a few familiar faces are missing.

One Big Apple-sized exception is Rudy Giuliani. While most of the field is spending the day looking to pull in votes, the former mayor will be back home, still trying to rake in campaign cash, one of two days this week he’ll spend fundraising, far from the trail, in the wake of news he’s slashed his ad buys in the pricey Boston media market that includes the southern border of the Granite State.  Full Story 

Meanwhile, a candidate on the rise, Mike Huckabee is hunting Texas cash, now making the pitch as a major candidate.

And the Texas congressman himself may be taking a down day, but ‘The Ron Paul Show’ continues, even without the $6 million man: his campaign tells CNN that it’s already busy spending the massive new fundraising haul, adding staffers in Florida and February 5 states, and buying up airtime in Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina.  Full Story

Barack Obama, Bill and Hillary Clinton and Fred Thompson are stumping in the Hawkeye State; John McCain and John Edwards are in New Hampshire. And Mitt Romney is spending the day in South Carolina, where his staffers have spent the past few days hitting Huckabee hard in that state’s first negative campaigning of the cycle.   Full Story

***

Now you can take the Best Political Team with you anytime, anywhere. Subscribe to the “Best Political Podcast” for extensive coverage of the 2008 election.   Best Political Podcast

===============================================================

Political Hot Topics
(Today's top political stories from news organizations across the country)

Compiled by Lindsey Pope
CNN Washington Bureau

Washington Post: In N.H., the Swing Voter Is Vanishing
As Sen. John McCain, a Republican running for president, touted the endorsement Monday of Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman, a maverick Democrat-turned-independent, it seemed designed to capture a legendary brand of New Hampshirite, a state icon on par with the moose: the independent voter.

New York Times: McCain Senses Momentum Is Starting to Help Him
Seeking to capitalize on a series of highly sought newspaper endorsements, Senator John McCain is strongly pushing to attract independent voters who helped drive his victory here eight years ago.

LA Times: Mccain Tries To Turn A Corner In N.H.
In an increasingly fractured Republican race, three top presidential hopefuls fanned out across New Hampshire on Monday, with Mitt Romney seeking to downplay expectations, John McCain basking in key endorsements and Rudolph W. Giuliani pressing his case to siphon votes from Romney, the leader here. 

USA Today: 'Family Values' Lower On Agenda In 2008 Race
Among the presidential contenders, however, Mitt Romney is virtually alone in stressing family values — a shift that reflects changes in society, the backgrounds of the Republican candidates and the urgency of issues such as war, terrorism and the economy.

Des Moines Register: Loebsack Endorses Obama; King's For Thompson
Two Iowa congressmen issued long-awaited endorsements
today in the race for the presidency, just a little more than two weeks ahead of the Iowa caucuses.

New York Times: Obama and Edwards Engage, Gently, on Special Interests
Senator Barack Obama and former Senator John Edwards, two Democratic presidential candidates courting many of the same undecided Iowa voters, added to their efforts Monday to distinguish between each other on the issue of reducing special-interest influence in Washington.

AP: Obama Comes Up Short on Union Support
Barack Obama's appeal among Democrats is undeniable. He's near the top of every poll and he packs rooms wherever he goes. But a vital piece of the Democratic power establishment isn't showing him any love: labor unions.

Washington Post: Edwards Seeks the Issue to Win Iowa
John Edwards, vowing to challenge the powerful on behalf of the powerless, rallied supporters Monday at a downtown appearance where he accepted the endorsement of Iowa's first lady, Mari Culver, a women's advocate who called him "the first candidate in my adult life to make it his cause to eliminate poverty in America."

USA Today: Poll: Electability key among Democrats
Democratic voters increasingly are focused on nominating the most electable presidential candidate, a USA TODAY/Gallup Poll finds, and Illinois Sen. Barack Obama fares better than New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton against prospective Republican rivals.

The Times of London: Presidential Campaigners Find Out Who Their Friends Really Are
At least eight viable candidates to be the next president of the United States were preparing yesterday for a frantic final fortnight before the first American voters deliver their verdict in the marathon contest for the White House.

New York Times: For Romney, a Course Set Long Ago
George Romney had big ideas for his youngest child. Mitt Romney had already made millions as the founder of a giant buyout firm. But his father wanted Mitt to follow him into politics, convinced he could unseat Senator Edward M. Kennedy in Massachusetts.

LA Times: Quietly Excited About Romney
There's not much chitchat about the presidential campaign inside the Mormon church in Aliso Viejo, even though fellow Mormon Mitt Romney is in the hunt for the Republican nomination. At church functions, even a hint of political favoritism is strictly forbidden. At neighborhood potlucks, soccer games and business lunches, however, it's a different story.

Des Moines Register: Richardson Says He Will Bring Troops Home
Democrat Bill Richardson is claiming the mantle of being his party’s strongest peace candidate as the Iowa caucus presidential campaign heads into the home stretch.

LA Times: Supporters Describe Clinton's Softer Side
Eager to present a more likable public face, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton is giving herself a multimedia makeover. 

New Hampshire Union-Leader: On The Trail: Delaware Senator Sees Iowa Caucus As Momentum-Builder
Joe Biden and the chairman of his presidential campaign in New Hampshire get the same glimmer in their eyes when they talk about the Iowa caucus.

New York Times: More Hiring and Advertising Ahead for Paul Campaign as the Donations Pour In
Flush with cash after another record fund-raising event, the campaign of Ron Paul said Monday that it was hiring more staff members, expanding its ground operations in early primary states, planning more advertising and looking ahead to competing in the contests on Feb. 5. 

New York Times Op-Ed: Iowa’s Undemocratic Caucuses
THIS year, a dozen polling organizations have conducted about 70 separate polls about the candidate preferences of Iowa caucus-goers…if a poll does manage to precisely forecast the results of the Jan. 3 caucuses, that is probably more coincidence than polling accuracy.

LA Times: Huckabee Dons The Bull's-Eye That All Contenders Wear
Just a few months ago, Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee's visit to Southern California barely registered a blip, much like his little-noticed long shot of a campaign.

Washington Post’s The Trail: Turning Out the Youth
It's that time of the campaign season again. Except this time, as with anything to do with Campaign '08, the worry over youth voter turnout started . . . in the primary season.

Washington Post: The Scribe Who Gets The Candidates' Vote
At 57, having covered every campaign here since 1976, David Yepsen is the old-journalism king of the Iowa caucuses. He is also the new-journalism king of the Iowa caucuses.

AP: Clinton '92 Vs. Obama '08
Bill Clinton says Sen. Barack Obama is a highly ambitious, political prodigy who is asking voters to "roll the dice" and elect him president.

New Hampshire Union-Leader: Chuck Norris Kicks Up Huckabee Campaign In Granite State
Mike Huckabee is looking pretty tough these days in the race to the Republican nomination, which is why Chuck Norris looks so right by his side on this campaign trip last weekend.

LA Times’ Top of the Ticket: Clintons Pull Magic Out Of Their Hats
Bill Clinton typically generates a fair amount of his own star power as he promotes his wife's presidential hopes. But Tuesday in Iowa, the wattage surrounding him should grow even more intense - he'll be joined on the trail by one of the most charismatic athletes of the last few decades, Magic Johnson.

Reuters: Likeability Is Key In U.S. Presidential Race
John Edwards wears jeans on the stump. Mike Huckabee plays bass guitar with local bands before his speeches and all the main candidates have been accompanied by family or people close to them on the campaign trail. Their aim is to win perhaps the oldest game in a U.S. presidential race - to persuade voters to like them.

USA Today: Americans' Approval Of Congress Sinks To New Low
As President Bush and Congress battle on the budget, homeland security and the war in Iraq, Americans blame both Republicans and Democrats for the impasse.

Roll Call: Coleman, Corker in Line to Head NRSC
Although the job is typically reserved for the party’s more conservative lawmakers, Senate Republicans appear likely to enlist a moderate-minded colleague to head up their campaign committee next cycle — a move that could prove either devastating or brilliant for a party in transition.

The Hill: An earmark Christmas
Congressional negotiators have added scores of new earmarks to a massive 3,565-page spending bill that lawmakers had only a few hours to review before an expected vote Monday evening. Democratic leaders did not make the bill available for public viewing until late on Sunday night.

===============================================================

On the Trail:

Compiled by Lauren Kornreich and Katy Byron
CNN Washington Bureau

* Hillary Clinton attends campaign events in Ottumwa and Donnellson, Iowa. Later, she attends a fundraiser in Chicago, Illinois.

* Chris Dodd holds a town hall forum at the Hanford Inn in Mason City, Iowa.

* John Edwards holds town hall meetings with Bonnie Raitt and Jackson Browne in Lebanon, Keene, and Nashua, New Hampshire.

* John McCain heads to New Hampshire to deliver a speech in Salem and stop by Hollis Pharmacy in Hollis. He then attends a house party in Nashua, and holds a town hall meeting in Hudson.

* Barack Obama holds a foreign policy forum at the Holiday Inn in Des Moines, Iowa.

* Bill Richardson meets with local residents at the Urban Grind in Davenport, Iowa. Later, heads to Manchester, New Hampshire for a town hall meeting on Iraq.

* Mitt Romney delivers a speech in Spartanburg, South Carolina on illegal immigration. Later, he heads to West Columbia, South Carolina and Savannah, Georgia for press conferences. In the evening, he holds campaign events in North Charleston and Myrtle Beach.

* Fred Thompson continues his bus tour through Iowa with stops in Manchester and Decorah. Later, he meets with local residents in Waterloo.

* The Senate Radio-Television Correspondents' Gallery Daybook 

* The House Radio-Television Correspondents' Gallery Daybook


Filed under: AM Political Ticker
December 17th, 2007
06:27 AM ET
7 years ago

CNN Political Ticker AM

For the latest, breaking political news, check for updates throughout the day at http://www.CNNPolitics.com. All Politics, all the time.

Making news today:

McCain’s endorsement trifecta

WASHNGTON (CNN) - Shock waves are still spreading through Democratic ranks over Joe Lieberman's decision to back John McCain's presidential bid. Independent reputation aside, it's still a move that surprised almost everyone Sunday, from Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, whose office learned of the move via a last-minute Sunday afternoon phone call (Reid's reaction: "I have the greatest respect for Joe, but I simply have to disagree with his decision to endorse Senator McCain") to, apparently, some members of Lieberman’s own staff - at least one of whom says he first heard of the decision from a CNN staffer (his reaction: "Oh my God, no. Really?") The official announcement is planned for this morning in New Hampshire.   Full Story

Even if he had not received the Lieberman nod, this would still have been a banner endorsement weekend for the Arizona senator. McCain, who already had the all-important backing of the New Hampshire Union Leader, now heads into the primary season homestretch with the editorial approvals of The Boston Globe ­ a big read in neighboring New Hampshire, where he's running second in most polls ­ and, in a shocker, the Des Moines Register.

Globe Article:

Register Article:

McCain isn't the only presidential contender to start the day in the Granite State. Giuliani and Romney ­ who are both banking on strong primary showings in New Hampshire ­ are also spending the day here. Meanwhile, back in the Hawkeye State, the Fred Thompson bus tour kicks off in Dubuque, and the Hill-a-copter is back in action for Hillary Clinton, barnstorming across the state and basking in the glow of her own Register nod. (Barack Obama, who captured the Globe's endorsement, is sticking to Iowa as well).

Globe Article:

Register Article:

In other news:

Get ready for some major crowing from Ron Paul's campaign, which claimed to reporters Sunday it had bested the GOP's one-day fundraising record by pulling in more than $4 million (and counting) in less than 24 hours.

–CNN Associate Political Editor Rebecca Sinderbrand

***

Now you can take the Best Political Team with you anytime, anywhere. Subscribe to the “Best Political Podcast” for extensive coverage of the 2008 election.   Best Political Podcast

===============================================================

Political Hot Topics
(Today's top political stories from news organizations across the country)

Compiled by Lindsey Pope
CNN Washington Bureau

New York Times: Candidates Collect Endorsements in Final Days in Iowa
The Democratic presidential candidates pressed across Iowa on Sunday as they began to make their closing arguments to voters before the holidays, with Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton clearly buoyed by her endorsement Sunday from The Des Moines Register. 

New York Times: Candidates Scrambling to Cope With Rise of Huckabee
Just one month ago, Mitt Romney’s supporters thought that they had Iowa fairly well in hand. But there was Mr. Romney last week, telling several hundred people at a high school cafeteria in Marion that he was the underdog and pleading for their help to keep him from being derailed at the caucuses by the rise of Mike Huckabee.

Washington Post: Home-School Ties Aided Huckabee's Iowa Rise
Julie Roe, an early believer in Mike Huckabee, worked with what she had. With no buttons, no yard signs and no glossy literature from his nearly invisible Iowa campaign, she took a pair of scissors and cut out a photograph of the former Arkansas governor. She pasted it on a piece of paper, scribbled down some of his positions, made copies and launched the Huckabee for President campaign in rural Hardin County.

Washington Post’s The Trail: Ron Paul Beats Own Fundraising Record
Yesterday, Ron Paul, the Republican congressman whose rock star status on the Internet has singlehandedly fueled his campaign, raised nearly $6 million in 24 hours.

LA Times: Island Tax Havens Factor Into Romney's Business Success
While in private business, Mitt Romney utilized shell companies in two offshore tax havens to help eligible investors avoid paying U.S. taxes, federal and state records show.

New York Times: In ’08 Race, the Other Clinton Steps Up Publicly
When Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton’s campaign advisers laid out their new political strategy in a private conference call with allies last Tuesday, Bill Clinton was not on the line. He did not need to be. The message being delivered was his.

USA Today: New Clinton Campaign Out To Show Her Likability
New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, trying to warm up an image some voters perceive as cold, starts a drive Monday to showcase her personal side with testimonials from friends, associates and constituents she has helped.

Des Moines Register: Iowa's First Lady To Back Edwards For President
Iowa’s first lady, who had said she would stay neutral in the presidential race, has changed her mind and plans to endorse Democrat John Edwards Monday.

ABC News: Edwards Crowds Rise for 'America Rising'
As his eight day bus tour through Iowa winds down, John Edwards is starting to bring audiences to their feet when he talks about America rising.

AP: Immigration a Big Issue to NH, Iowa GOP
At opposite sides of New Hampshire, John McCain faced two corporate audiences in two college towns earlier this month. Only one topic came up in both places when he starting taking questions: illegal immigration.

The Daily Telegraph: Mitt Romney Says Rival Is 'Another Bill Clinton'
Scarcely an hour goes by without the Romney campaign issuing a press release painting Mr Huckabee, a Baptist who has surged past the former Massachusetts governor to become the new front runner in Iowa, as a joker. He’s called his quips about policy “no laughing matter” and mocked his “playground diplomacy”.

Des Moines Register: Biden: Next President Needs Foreign Policy Experience
A presidential election with so much at stake regarding the United States’ standing in a tumultuous world should not end with a president with expertise limited to domestic issues, Sen. Joe Biden said today. 

New Hampshire Union-Leader: Kucinich Would Push Peace, Health Care
Dennis Kucinich knows he's an underdog in the presidential primary. But he plays to win. 

CNN: Obama Talks Faith In 'Music Man’s' Church
Presidential hopeful Barack Obama told worshipers Sunday that he wasn’t raised in a church, but “came to Christ” during his years as a community organizer in Chicago.

Boston Globe: Republican Candidates Returning To The Fold
Many Democrats who had spent years lamenting that their candidates were uneasy around the faithful were pleased to find this year that their primary field was filled with people with at least enough church experience to work scriptural verse into a stump speech – and even more pleased to find, for the first time in years, that it was the Republican front-runners who appeared most conflicted about discussing religion.

Politico: Rudy Cuts Back NH Ad Buy
The Nashua Telegraph's Kevin Landrigan reports that Rudy is planning to deeply cut back his New Hampshire television presence by reducing his buy on the pricey Boston stations this week.

New York Times: At Web Site for Journalists, Criticism of a Campaign Article Becomes a Melee
The Washington Post article, which ran on Nov. 29, was about rumors of Barack Obama’s ties to the Muslim world. The piece drew widespread criticism: the Columbia Journalism Review said the article “may be the single worst campaign ’08 piece to appear in any American newspaper so far this election cycle.”

New Hampshire Union-Leader: Reinhold Pushing Richardson's Run
Actor Judge Reinhold has a new supporting role - stumping for Democratic Presidential candidate Bill Richardson.

Des Moines Register: Rep. King To Endorse Presidential Candidate Monday
Steve King, the Republican congressman from Iowa's Fifth Congressional District, says he will announce an endorsement for a presidential candidate in a conference Monday morning at the Embassy Suites Hotel in downtown Des Moines.

Washington Times: Spouses Lend Savvy To '08 Race
Janet Huckabee and Michelle Obama are among a group of spouses who bring significant professional resumes and modern personal stories to the 2008 election as they line up as potential first ladies. 

NY Daily News: Women More Willing To Forgive Monica Scandal Than Judi Giuliani's Trysts
A straying husband is bad. But a home wrecker is worse – at least when it comes to who should end up in the White House.

AP: Dems mull strategy, leadership after setbacks
Congressional Democrats will have plenty to ponder during the Christmas-New Year recess. For instance, why did things go so badly this fall, and how well did their leaders serve them?

Roll Call: Endgame a Tale of Two Chairmen
While Democrats attempted this weekend to put the finishing touches on a catchall spending bill, the rocky road to the 2007 endgame has been exacerbated by a volatile House Appropriations chairman and a Senate Appropriations chairman weakened by age and health problems.

Washington Post: No Running Jokes Here
Al Franken doesn't want to be funny these days, not really funny. Wit has its place in politics, he says…But funny can be a distraction from the serious stuff Franken is trying to talk about, such as veterans' health care, global warming, his opposition to the war in Iraq, etc. Besides, Franken has always had funny. What he needs, as a candidate, is gravitas.

Roll Call’s Heard on the Hill: Small Steps, Giant Leap.
When he walked onto the Senate floor under his own power to vote on Friday, Sen. Tim Johnson (D) quietly marked a major milestone in his rehabilitation from a brain aneurysm that the senior South Dakotan suffered last year…

===============================================================

On the Trail:

Compiled by Lauren Kornreich and Katy Byron
CNN Washington Bureau

* Hillary Clinton continues her "Every County Counts Tour" through Iowa with stops in Johnston, and Des Moines. Later, she heads to the eastern part of the Hawkeye State with events in Davenport and Coralville.

* John McCain receives an endorsement from Joe Lieberman in Hillsborough, New Hampshire. Later, he tours Lincoln Financial Company, holds a press Conference, and attends a house party in Concord. In the evening, McCain holds a town hall meeting in Weare.

* Fred Thompson kicks off his "The Clear Conservative Choice: Hands Down!" bus tour through Iowa with an event in Dubuque.

* John Edwards holds a bus tour finale event at The Temple for Performing Arts in Des Moines, Iowa. Later, he campaigns in Cedar Rapids and Davenport.

* Rudy Giuliani delivers remarks at Goss International Corporation in Durham, New Hampshire.

* Mike Huckabee is a guest on Larry King Live from Los Angeles, California.

* Dennis Kucinich campaigns in Sunapee, Claremont, and New London, New Hampshire.

* Barack Obama continues his bus tour through Iowa with events in Spencer, Storm Lake, Cherokee and Le Mars. Later, he holds a rally in Sioux City.

* Mitt Romney holds town hall meetings in Londonderry, Manchester, and Goffstown, New Hampshire.

* Joe Biden addresses local Democrats at a house party in New Ipswich, New Hampshire.

* The Senate Radio-Television Correspondents' Gallery Daybook

* The House Radio-Television Correspondents' Gallery Daybook 


Filed under: AM Political Ticker
December 14th, 2007
06:48 AM ET
7 years ago

CNN Political Ticker AM

For the latest, breaking political news, check for updates throughout the day at http://www.CNNPolitics.com. All Politics, all the time.

Making news today:

Huckabee surge hits South Carolina

WASHINGTON (CNN) - There are crowded presidential primary fields, and then there’s South Carolina. There are six Republican candidates with double-digit support in the latest CNN/Opinion Research Corporation Poll ­ including two, Mitt Romney and Ron Paul, who are up from single-digit showings in the last survey, conducted this summer.

But one contender seems to be pulling away from the pack. Roughly one in four Palmetto State Republicans, ­ 24 percent, ­ say they support Mike Huckabee, up from 3 percent in the previous survey. Fred Thompson comes in second with 17 percent. Meanwhile, Rudy Giuliani’s support drops by roughly half since the last poll ­from 30 percent to 16 percent, tied with Mitt Romney. John McCain, who was second in the last survey, ­comes in fifth with 13 percent. Ron Paul pulls 11 percent.

The Democratic race appears to be tightening a bit in this latest poll, taken after Oprah Winfrey’s weekend visit on behalf of Barack Obama. But the shape of the race is generally unchanged from the summer survey: Hillary Clinton leads the pack with 42 percent, Obama follows with 34 percent (up from 27 percent), and John Edwards comes in third with 16 percent.   Full Story

Meanwhile, most presidential contenders remain focused on the Hawkeye State, where Democratic candidates met Thursday for their final showdown before the caucuses take place three weeks from now.

Few events this campaign season promised to provide more awkward moments than that debate. Clinton and Obama shared an Iowa stage just hours after she personally apologized for a statement made by one of her top Granite State advisors about Obama’s admitted past drug use.

But the afternoon offered even fewer fireworks than the Republican debate that took place on the same stage just a day earlier. Much like in the GOP debate, the economy ­- which now tops the Iraq war as a concern of Democratic voters ­- proved to be the focus of much of the discussion.

Clinton played to a major campaign asset -­ her husband -­ by seeding her answers with reminders of his presidential successes. As for Obama, the debate’s low-key vibe seemed to play to his strengths.

But perhaps the real winner was Edwards, who has staked his candidacy on a strong showing in Iowa. A CNN focus group of undecided Hawkeye State voters overwhelmingly responded that Edwards came out on top at the end of the 90-minute debate. Many of these voters said he would get their vote if the caucuses were held today.

Full story

Analysis

– CNN Associate Political Editor Rebecca Sinderbrand

***

Now you can take the Best Political Team with you anytime, anywhere. Subscribe to the “Best Political Podcast” for extensive coverage of the 2008 election.   Best Political Podcast

===============================================================

Political Hot Topics

(Today's top political stories from news organizations across the country)

Compiled by Lindsey Pope

CNN Washington Bureau

Des Moines Register: Upbeat Democrats' Theme: Who Can Most Credibly Usher In Change?  Six major Democratic candidates for president varied on spending, energy and trade policy during The Des Moines Register’s debate Thursday, an upbeat final meeting of the candidates before Iowa’s leadoff nominating caucuses.

New York Times’ The Caucus: Encouraging Students to Caucus  When Iowans caucus on Jan. 3, the state’s college students will be spread far and wide on winter break. But some colleges are trying to make it easy for their students to give up home cooking for a few days and head back to campus early to help nominate the next president.

CNN: Clinton Adviser Steps Down After Drug Use Comments  One of Sen. Hillary Clinton's top advisers is stepping down after saying Sen. Barack Obama's admission of past drug use would hurt his chances in a general election match up.

USA Today: Giuliani Shifts Tactics, Goes On Offensive  Republican Rudy Giuliani's plan to absorb punishment in the party's early primaries and then strike back in primaries in delegate-rich states on Jan. 29 and Feb. 5 has hit a wall, political analysts and strategists say. 

New York Times: Biden Campaigning With Ease After Hardships  Senator Joseph R. Biden Jr. of Delaware, a back-in-the-pack Democratic candidate for president, was answering a voter’s question last week about negative campaigning when he abruptly began talking about his first, euphoric run for the Senate, in 1972, and the personal tragedy that nearly destroyed his life afterward.

New York Times: Apologies From the Heart (of Darkness?)  But in the aftermath of the apologies, both the Clinton and Huckabee campaigns kept the original slurs alive through a series of interviews, raising questions about the sincerity of their apologies, especially in the heat of a wide-open campaign with the first voting less than three weeks away.

The Hill: Rollins To Serve As Huckabee’s National Chairman  Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee scored a major victory Thursday when he secured the support of prominent GOP insider Ed Rollins, who will serve as national chairman of Huckabee’s campaign.

The Guardian: Huckabee Took Thousands In Gifts, Records Show  A $1,000 pair of cufflinks from a supporter, tens of thousands of dollars of clothing from a wealthy Little Rock businessman and thousands in gift certificates and cash from staff and appointees were among the lavish gifts given to Republican presidential candidate and unexpected frontrunner Mike Huckabee while he was governor of Arkansas.

Wall Street Journal: More Blacks Lean Toward Obama  Barack Obama's rising poll numbers among white voters in Iowa and New Hampshire are having an unexpected ripple effect: Some black voters are switching their allegiance from Hillary Clinton and lining up behind him too.

Washington Post: The Ghost of a Father  Thoughts of his father "bubble up," as Barack Obama puts it in an interview, "at different moments, at any course of the day or week."   "I think about him often," he says. He last saw his father in 1971, when he was 10 years old

USA Today: Mccain Gaining In New Hampshire  As his Republican rivals lock horns in Iowa, Sen. John McCain seems so little concerned with the state's caucuses that during a debate there Wednesday he mentioned he opposes ethanol subsidies, the federal payments beloved of Midwestern corn growers.

New Hampshire Union-Leader: Bishop: Weigh Moral Issues In Vote  Bishop John B. McCormack, in a pamphlet the Diocese of Manchester is distributing at masses this weekend, is calling on New Hampshire Catholics to remember church teaching when they cast their votes.

Boston Globe: Some Voters Hear Body Language Of Candidates Clearly  The talking heads gab about front-runners and wannabes, attacks made and deflected, answers carefully parsed. But when Newbury Street hairstylist Mario Russo watches the Democratic presidential debates, he looks at something different: body language.

Washington Post: Poll Shows More Optimism on War  A year after approval of President Bush's handling of the war in Iraq dipped to an all-time low, a new Washington Post-ABC News poll finds discontent toward the war easing slightly, with Republicans and independents significantly more positive about the situation than they were 12 months ago.

CNN: Contempt Citations Recommended For Rove, Bolten  Members of the Senate Judiciary Committee voted Thursday in favor of handing out contempt citations to a former and current White House official for failing to comply with subpoenas issued in the investigation into the firings of eight U.S. attorneys last year.

===============================================================

On the Trail:

Compiled by Lauren Kornreich and Katy Byron

CNN Washington Bureau

* Barack Obama continues his bus tour through Iowa with a meet and greet in Monticello and a roundtable in Cedar Rapids. Later, he meets with Iowans in Manchester and Guttenberg.

* Mike Huckabee and Chuck Norris tour Elektrisola and speak with employees in Boscawen, New Hampshire. Later, they visit the New Hampshire Veterans' home in Tilton.

* Hillary Clinton attends a campaign fundraiser at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York.

* Mitt Romney holds an "Ask Mitt Anything" town hall meeting in Carroll, Iowa. Later, he holds campaign events in Early and Storm Lake.

* Chris Dodd tours PMX Industries with Sen. Tom Harkin and meets with employees in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Later, he delivers a speech at the Red, White, and Blue Dinner in Davenport.

* John Edwards holds town hall meetings in Manchester and Elkader, Iowa.

* John McCain meets with local residents at American Legion Post 147 in James Island, South Carolina.

* Ron Paul meets with local Republicans at Red Lion Hotel and Casino in Elko, Nevada.

* Bill Richardson participates in an AARP candidate forum in Concord, New Hampshire. Later, he holds town hall forums in Keene, Claremont, Hanover and Lebanon.

* Joe Biden holds Caucus Countdown campaign events in Keokuk, Fort Madison and Burlington, Iowa. Later, he addresses the Democrats Red, White, and Blue Dinner at the Mississippi Valley Fair in Davenport.

* Fred Thompson holds a press conference at Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory in Louisville, Kentucky.

* The Senate Radio-Television Correspondents' Gallery Daybook 

 * The House Radio-Television Correspondents' Gallery Daybook


Filed under: AM Political Ticker
December 13th, 2007
06:00 AM ET
7 years ago

CNN Political Ticker AM

For the latest, breaking political news, check for updates throughout the day at http://www.CNNPolitics.com. All Politics, all the time.

Making news today:

Brutal GOP campaign takes a breather

WASHINGTON (CNN) - Maybe it was the midday start time. Maybe it was the holiday season. But Wednesday’s Republican presidential debate lacked the brutal street-fighting tone that has characterized their previous meetings, as well as the past few days on the trail in Iowa.

With the first-in-the-nation Iowa caucuses roughly three weeks away, it was the moderator, and not the candidates who came under fire at this last Republican debate. Fred Thompson rebelled against debate guidelines laid out by Des Moines Register Editor Carolyn Washburn – his campaign even kept up the assault after the debate.

Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton, who has been a top target in most of the recent GOP debates, didn’t rate a single mention – that distinction went to the nation’s tax system, as each of the candidates pledged to slash taxes and government spending.

The man on stage who provided the biggest fireworks was perennial candidate Alan Keyes. The former ambassador and three-time presidential contender tangled with Washburn, injecting himself into exchange after exchange.

In fact, much of the GOP debate seemed to belong to second-tier candidates like Duncan Hunter, Tancredo, Paul and Keyes. That scenario won’t play out Thursday - underdogs Dennis Kucinich and Mike Gravel have not been included in the Democratic debate.   Full Story

In other news:

Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney will be endorsed by Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman, CNN’s Dana Bash has learned.   Full Story

And while the presidential race in Iowa is in its final stretch, four Democratic candidates plan on leaving the Hawkeye state Thursday morning to tend to their day jobs. Sens. Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton, Chris Dodd, and Barack Obama, all plan to make the trip back to Capitol Hill for a Senate farm bill vote and a cloture vote on an energy bill, aides to the senators tell CNN’s Jessica Yellin.   Full Story

– CNN Associate Political Editor Rebecca Sinderbrand

***

Now you can take the Best Political Team with you anytime, anywhere. Subscribe to the “Best Political Podcast” for extensive coverage of the 2008 election.   Best Political Podcast

===============================================================

Political Hot Topics
(Today's top political stories from news organizations across the country)

Compiled by Lindsey Pope
CNN Washington Bureau

New York Times: Final Debate Before Iowa Caucuses Shows Uncertainty at Top of Republican Field
The last Republican presidential debate before the Iowa caucuses, a sleepy affair, was nearly over on Wednesday when one of the less-known candidates, Representative Tom Tancredo, decided to mount an attack on one of the leading candidates.

Washington Post: In a Lifeless Debate, Vows of a Spirited Sprint
Despite barely engaging each other in a final, lackluster Republican debate here, former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney and former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee vowed Wednesday to wage a spirited fight in a presidential contest that has become a test of social conservative passions vs. the power of money and organization.

Des Moines Register: Basu: Does Huckabee Sound Too Liberal To Rally GOP?
Wednesday’s GOP debate clarified a few things, such as why Huckabee is leading in Iowa; forced an awkward question — what’s going on with Alan Keyes?; and showed why Republicans have generally failed to galvanize around one candidate.

NY Sun: McCain Touts Bloomberg on Education
Senator McCain is cozying up to Mayor Bloomberg at the expense of Mayor Giuliani as the Republican presidential primaries draw near, using a question at yesterday's debate here to tout the current administration's efforts to reform an educational system that he said had been "clearly broken."

LA Times: Controversy Dwarfs GOP Debate
Mike Huckabee apologized to Mitt Romney on Wednesday for raising questions about the Mormon faith, again pushing religion to the fore of an increasingly bitter fight for the Republican presidential nomination.

Boston Globe: New Dynamics Of Race Reinforced, But No Big Winner
When Representative Tom Tancredo of Colorado looked down the lineup of fellow Republican presidential candidates and said he had a question for the governor "because you're leading the pack now," former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney straightened up as if readying himself for a punch. 

Boston Globe: Obama Closes In On Clinton In N.H. Polls
With less than a month to go until the New Hampshire primary, two new polls yesterday showed that Hillary Clinton's once-daunting lead has evaporated, putting her into a dead heat with Barack Obama.

New Hampshire Union-Leader: John DiStaso's Granite Status: No firewall in NH for Hillary
REPORTS of New Hampshire as a firewall for Hillary Clinton have apparently been greatly exaggerated.

Des Moines Register: Why Kucinich Isn't In The Democratic Debate
Six Democratic candidates for president will take the stage at 1 p.m. Thursday in the Des Moines Register’s second presidential debate.

Wall Street Journal: Looking for Lessons in 2006 Election Data
With 11 months to go before the 2008 election, the Election Assistance Commission issued its final report on the 2006 election, and it contains some curious nuggets.

New York Times: Clinton Aide Sees Problem for Obama
A top adviser to Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton said Wednesday that Senator Barack Obama’s admission of illegal drug use as a young man could threaten his electability and be seized on by Republicans if he won the Democratic presidential nomination.

Washington Post: In Iowa, a Scrambling Lesson for Clinton
When senior advisers to Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton awakened to the fact that they faced a serious problem in Iowa, they knew they needed a summit. For the divided staff, the question was where.

Boston Globe: Bill Can't Win It For Hillary
VOTERS WILL never elect Bill Clinton's wife as president of the United States. They may yet elect Hillary Clinton – if she makes the case.

New York Times’ The Caucus: Clinton May End Relationship With Burkle Firm
Former President Bill Clinton is in negotiations to sever his relationship with the Yucaipa Funds, a privately held California investment firm headed by Ronald W. Burkle, according to two people familiar with the discussions.

Washington Post: A Family Duty
John McCain's life has always been framed by his legendary Navy forebears - the father and grandfather who were illustrious admirals; the tough, passionate men whose code and calling McCain was preordained to share. He is a product of almost 80 years of family service, which included his 5 1/2 years of torture and deprivation in North Vietnamese prison camps.

Politico: HRC Troubles May Pose Problem For Giuliani
You know the type: He doesn't like her, he picks on her, but in the end — he needs her. If recent polls are any guide, the guy in that particular stormy and symbiotic relationship is Rudy Giuliani, and the object of his complicated emotions is none other than Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Chicago Tribune’s The Swamp: First Oprah, Next Gayle King
In Dubuque, Iowa, Barack Obama will participate in a "Women for Obama" event that will be streamed live on the Web. Gayle King, a close friend of Oprah Winfrey's and one of her employees, will moderate the town-hall-style gathering.

Boston Globe: Obama Slams Employee Mishap, Again
The Obama campaign's response to reports Tuesday that he had stated in a decade-old questionnaire his unequivocal opposition to the existence of guns – a different position than he states today – was to blame it on a wayward employee.

USA Today: Edwards Banks On Veteran Caucusgoers To Pull Off Iowa
Democrat John Edwards is not a celebrity, he hasn't written a best seller and he won't be smashing any glass ceilings for women or minorities.

LA Times: Putting Words In Obama's Mouth
It's not unusual to hear average folks being mentioned by presidential hopefuls on the hustings. But few have found themselves quite so celebrated as Edith Childs, the star of one of Illinois Sen. Barack Obama's favorite campaign anecdotes.

Roll Call Opinion: Is Mike Huckabee the None of the Above Candidate?
A slew of new polls have confirmed that former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee’s Iowa surge has catapulted him to the lead in the GOP caucuses. He shows movement in other state and national polling as well, though not in New Hampshire.

DC Examiner: Bill Subs for Hill at NJ Fundraiser
It's not often that Bill Clinton is relegated to the role of substitute, but the former president filled in Wednesday night at a million-dollar fundraiser his presidential candidate wife missed because of bad weather.

New York Times: Immigration, and Its Politics, Shake Rural Iowa
Along the main thoroughfare of this small meatpacking town, the transformation of a single shop, once known as the Ken-A-Bob restaurant, tells the story of the town itself.

The Daily Telegraph: Ron Paul Leads Republicans Online
The 2008 presidential campaign with the biggest on-line presence is led by 72-year-old congressman in a crumpled suit who confesses he has no internet strategy but just stumbled on “a wonderful secret weapon”.

NY Daily News: Rudy Giuliani on Awkward Moments List
What happens when you're running for president and your kids don't support you? You get a spot on Time magazine's Top 10 Awkward Moments of 2007 list.

Washington Post: Misreading the Iran Report By Henry Kissinger
The extraordinary spectacle of the president's national security adviser obliged to defend the president's Iran policy against a National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) raises two core issues: How are we now to judge the nuclear threat posed by Iran? How are we to judge the intelligence community's relationship with the White House and the rest of the government?

Roll Call: Poll: Landrieu’s Race Near Even
In the Republican Party’s one real shot at knocking off an incumbent Senate Democrat, Louisiana Treasurer John Kennedy is running almost even with Sen. Mary Landrieu (D), according to a new poll conducted exclusively for Roll Call.

Washington Post: Democrats Blaming Each Other For Failures
When Democrats took control of Congress in January, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) pledged to jointly push an ambitious agenda to counter 12 years of Republican control.

The Hill: Boehner, Pelosi Seek IG Action On Page Program
House leaders have directed the House Inspector General to investigate misconduct and allegations of mismanagement of the congressional page program, according to a joint statement Wednesday night.

NY Daily News: Subpoenas for Al Sharpton's Aides
Teams of federal agents swooped down on up to 10 close associates of the Rev. Al Sharpton Wednesday, demanding the flamboyant clergyman's financial records since 2001. 

Boston Globe: Gonzales is lawyer of the year, says ABA Journal
Negative news coverage might have cost Alberto Gonzales his job as attorney general, but it won him a dubious honor yesterday from a magazine published by the American Bar Association: Lawyer of the Year.
===============================================================

On the Trail:

Compiled by Lauren Kornreich and Katy Byron
CNN Washington Bureau

* The Democratic presidential candidates participate in a debate sponsored by the Des Moines Register and Iowa Public Television in Johnston, Iowa

* Mitt Romney holds a "Strategy for a Stronger America: Strengthening America's Economy" event in Muscatine, Iowa. Later, he attends the grand opening of his Bettendorf campaign office.

* Ron Paul meets with Republican supporters at Eagles Hall in Fallon, Nevada.

* Hillary Clinton attends a rally at the Shenandoah Fire Department in Shenandoah, Iowa.

* Chris Dodd attends a campaign event at Grinnell College in Grinnell, Iowa. Later, he goes to a chili dinner and fundraiser in Story City.

* John Edwards holds a community meeting in Indianola, Iowa.

* John McCain holds town hall meetings in Sioux City and Davenport, Iowa.

* Barack Obama kicks off a tour through Iowa with a town hall meeting at Grand River Center in Dubuque. Later, he holds another town hall at Ohnward Fine Arts Center in Maquoketa.

* Joe Biden addresses a Polk County Democrats meeting in Des Moines, Iowa.

* The Senate Radio-Television Correspondents' Gallery Daybook

* The House Radio-Television Correspondents' Gallery Daybook 


Filed under: AM Political Ticker
December 12th, 2007
06:22 AM ET
7 years ago

CNN Political Ticker AM

For the latest, breaking political news, check for updates throughout the day at http://www.CNNPolitics.com. All Politics, all the time.

Making news today:

Good news for Obama and Romney in New Hampshire

WASHINGTON (CNN) - Huge news out of the new CNN/WMUR poll this morning: Barack Obama’s recent surge has reached the Granite State in a big way. Obama has gained 8 percentage points, while Hillary Clinton has dropped 5 percentage points in the latest survey putting the two Democrats in a statistical dead heat a month before the primary. Just one month ago, Clinton led Obama 36 percent to 22 percent; today, she’s ahead by a single point, 31 percent to 30 percent. John Edwards is a distant third, rising 3 points to 16 percent.

The Democratic race may be upended, but GOP results seem to be frozen in place in the new survey that was conducted by the University of New Hampshire Survey Center. Despite increasing momentum for Mike Huckabee in Iowa and nationally, Mitt Romney is showing hints of a Granite State firewall: He’s holding steady at 32 percent, followed by Giuliani and McCain at 19 percent. Huckabee is in fourth place with 9 percent – barely ahead of Ron Paul’s 7 percent showing.   Full Story

After a week of shooting at each other from a distance, the Republicans will wind up on the same Iowa stage today for the Des Moines Register debate. (The Democrats will have their turn on Thursday.) Tune into CNN at 2 p.m. ET to watch the fireworks between Romney and … pretty much everyone else, but especially Huckabee. He told reporters yesterday that the former Massachusetts governor as “desperate.” Romney has the distinction of being the only GOP candidate – so far – to take aim at all of the top-tier Iowa contenders.

On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton herself may be out of the spotlight for the day, look for her campaign to continue to laser in on Obama’s “electability” deficit.

And Bill Richardson will try to match the sharp elbows of his top-tier counterparts with a speech his campaign describes as a counterpoint to the “meaningless bickering of his opponents in the Democratic primary.”

After months of squirreling away millions of dollars in campaign donations, the candidates are now opening their wallets to buy television advertising time - especially in Iowa.   Full Story

– CNN Associate Political Editor Rebecca Sinderbrand

***

Now you can take the Best Political Team with you anytime, anywhere. Subscribe to the “Best Political Podcast” for extensive coverage of the 2008 election.   Best Political Podcast

===============================================================

Political Hot Topics
(Today's top political stories from news organizations across the country)

Compiled by Lindsey Pope
CNN Washington Bureau

CNN: CNN N.H. Poll: Obama, Clinton Tied; Romney Remains Strong
Barack Obama has chipped away at Hillary Clinton’s lead in New Hampshire, and the two Democratic presidential hopefuls are now locked in a statistical tie less than one month before the first-in-the-nation primary, a CNN/WMUR Poll released Wednesday shows.

Washington Post: In Poll, Huckabee Closes on Giuliani
Three weeks before the first contest of the 2008 campaign, Republicans remain sharply divided over whom to choose as their presidential nominee and which of the five leading candidates best embodies the core values of a fractured GOP, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.

National Review: Romney for President
Many conservatives are finding it difficult to pick a presidential candidate. Each of the men running for the Republican nomination has strengths, and none has everything — all the traits, all the positions — we are looking for. Equally conservative analysts can reach, and have reached, different judgments in this matter. There are fine conservatives supporting each of these Republicans.

AP: Dems, GOP Prep For Final Pre-Iowa Caucus Debates
It's crunch time. Nine Republican and six Democratic candidates will meet this week in their final debates before the lead off Iowa caucuses, and lively exchanges are all but certain.

Des Moines Register: Last Debates Could Have 'Seismic Impact'
The Des Moines Register's presidential debates, set for today and Thursday, are the last meetings of the candidates before the leadoff Iowa caucuses and most meaningful of the dozens already held this year, campaign strategists agree.

New York Times: Feeling Heat, Clinton Tries Iowa Up Close
Though Hillary Clinton maintains a solid lead among Democrats in most national polls, Mrs. Clinton is showing signs of vulnerability, with her margins narrowing in the early voting states and her main rival for the nomination, Senator Barack Obama, taking her on more aggressively. 

Des Moines Register: Edwards Cancels 3 Eastern Iowa Functions
Tuesday's icy weather, which canceled political events across Iowa, caused some presidential candidates to consider what similar weather might mean on Jan. 3.

NY Daily News: Bill Clinton To Aid Hillary's Campaign
Bubba to the rescue! Alarmed by his wife's slide in the polls and disarray within her backbiting campaign, a beside-himself Bill Clinton has leaped atop the barricades and is furiously plotting a cure – or coup.

AP: If Clinton Loses Iowa: Her 'Plan B'
Hillary Rodham Clinton's backup plan if she falters in Iowa can be summed up in two words: New Hampshire.

Politico: Hillary Can Do No Wrong On Mystery Site
Pro-Clinton site confounds efforts to identify who's behind it, but it echoes HRC talking points closely.

Chicago Tribune: In N.H., Iraq War Fading As Key Issue
Not long ago it was the issue that dominated every campaign event and speech. Now the war in Iraq has dramatically receded as a campaign topic, giving way to preoccupations closer to home…

Washington Post: Obama's Cheering Section Ups The Volume
Change. The word on which Sen. Barack Obama has staked his candidacy. A word that's peppered in all of his speeches and plastered around any Obama event. A word that attracts and enthralls and, in some cases, challenges. Change? What's going to change? Are voters going to change?

Wall Street Journal: Clinton Basks in Buffett Glow
Democratic presidential rivals Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama are vying for the affections of legendary investor Warren Buffett, as the economy eclipses Iraq as a key election issue. Mr. Buffett has said he won't endorse a candidate but that he is willing to throw his substantial fund-raising capabilities behind both Sens. Clinton and Obama.

New Hampshire Union-Leader: Obama, Giuliani Lead In UNH Hall Mock Voting
Sen. Barack Obama and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani are the early frontrunners in a mock primary at the University of New Hampshire that kicked off yesterday just after midnight.

USA Today: Candidates Split On Cutting Higher Education Costs
It's a cry increasingly heard among several Democrats in Iowa aspiring to the presidency: Community college should essentially be free.

Boston Globe: Huckabee's Views On Gays Under Greater Scrutiny
…as Huckabee seeks to solidify his front-runner status in Iowa and his climb in national polls, the former Arkansas governor is coming under greater scrutiny for his views about gays and lesbians.

Boston Globe: Moderator Comes To Iowa Debates Armed With Questions
Many voters may not have heard of Carolyn Washburn, but she's familiar, and critically important, to the presidential candidates in town this week for back-to-back debates. 

Washington Post: Bigger Than Life
Freddie Thompson hit full height in the 10th grade, some 6 feet, 5 3/4 inches. His buddies called him "Stick." He was a nice-looking kid, played football and basketball, chased girls, horsed around in class, rarely cracked a book. "Basically, just a carefree, underachieving kid," he says today.

Washington Post: Romney Seeks a Neighborly Reception
Wes Burke does not really know Mitt Romney as the multimillionaire corporate turnaround whiz or savior of the Salt Lake City Winter Olympics or presidential candidate with the reputation for changing his mind. He knows him as the guy who, on a visit to Burke's home here one Sunday, noticed water running high behind the dam on the property and then offered to go with Burke to fix the broken pump.

USA Today: Ron Paul's Youtube Rants About Bernanke Grab Attention
Texas Congressman Ron Paul is getting help from an improbable source in his long-shot bid for the Republican presidential nomination: Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke.

Huffington Post: ABC Exiles Ron Paul Interview to Web
Congressman Ron Paul and 20/20 host John Stossel have more than a few things in common. Specifically, they both think a lot of libertarian thoughts, and unlike a lot of libertarians, they've both learned to communicate these thoughts so effectively that they have earned the respect of their peers.

Boston Globe: For Biden, It's The Résumé Over The Rallying Cry
As Joe Biden lingered after his speech at Northern Iowa Area Community College, a man leaned in and asked for Biden's ultimate sales pitch – the one thing he could say on caucus night to lure friends from better-funded, more famous candidates to support the senator from Delaware.

Des Moines Register: Roboprofessor Heckles Former President
A University of Iowa associate professor dressed as a robot interrupted Bill Clinton at a campaign stop here late Monday, screaming for an apology before security escorted him from the building.

DC Examiner: Book Excerpt: In New York, Illegal Immigration Took A Back Seat To Making The City Safe
Rudy Giuliani says he wanted to deport all 400,000 illegal immigrants from New York City when he was mayor, but ended up welcoming most of those who were “causing me no trouble.” 

AP: AP Interview: Edwards on Iraq and Dems
Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards, who has fiercely debated the U.S. military presence in Iraq with his rivals, said Tuesday that he believes Iowa voters don't find much disagreement among Democrats on how to bring the war to an end.

DC Examiner: Book Excerpt: Five Years Later, Senator Still Struggles With Her Vote For The Iraq War
Sen. Hillary Clinton denounces President Bush and the Iraq war so frequently on the campaign trail that it’s easy to forget just how ardently she once supported both.

USA Today: Study: Provisional Ballots Count More In Some States
The use of provisional ballots in the 2006 election by voters whose eligibility was questioned at the polls varied greatly among states, and more than half of them were cast in California and Ohio, a new government report shows.

AP: Republicans Keep Two House Seats
Republicans retained control of two Congressional seats Tuesday in special elections in Ohio and Virginia, thwarting Democratic efforts to expand their control in the House. The elections were held to complete the terms of members of the House who had died.

USA Today: 'Earmark' Cash Aids Democrat Freshmen
A year ago, Democrats won control of Congress in part by criticizing billions of dollars spent on pet projects. Now, freshmen Democrats are benefiting from the same kind of spending, a USA TODAY analysis shows.

Roll Call: Omnibus Plans Face Resistance
Democrats struggled to hash out a new spending strategy on Tuesday amid resistance in both parties to an earmark-free spending plan floated by House Appropriations Chairman David Obey (D-Wis.) and a new proposal by Senate Republicans for an across-the-board cut.

Reuters: Bush Issues 29 Pardons But Libby Not Among Them
President George W. Bush granted pardons to 29 people on Tuesday but Lewis "Scooter" Libby, a former top aide to Vice President Dick Cheney, was not among them. 

AP: Redneck Spoofs Spice Up 2008 Campaign
From behind an anchor desk ringed with empty Budweiser cans and Jack Daniel's bottles, the pundits of "Red State Update" dissect election politics from the good ol' boy point of view.

AP: 2008 Candidates and Their Nicknames
Meet the presidential candidates by another name - Barry, Bird Legs, Coyote Bill. Such are their childhood nicknames.

LA Times’ Top of the Ticket: The Actress Who Stalked Rudy Giuliani
Actress Kerry Washington’s been popping up at campaign events for many of the presidential candidates these days - using them as a living props while she models the latest fashions for an upcoming issue of the New York Times Magazine. The candidates don't seem to mind the free exposure.

The Hill: Pelosi Buys $16K Worth Of Flowers
Pelosi (D-Calif.) spent a little more than $3 million in the first nine months of 2007, records show, compared to the $1.8 million Rep. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) spent during the same period in 2006. The spending patterns indicate Pelosi is seeking to restore the Speaker’s role as a counterweight to the president and reclaim some of the responsibilities Hastert had ceded to his aggressive majority leader, Tom DeLay ===============================================================

On the Trail:

Compiled by Lauren Kornreich and Katy Byron
CNN Washington Bureau

* The Republican presidential candidates participate in a debate sponsored by the Des Moines Register and Iowa Public Television in Johnston, Iowa.

* Mitt Romney attends a post-debate house party in Johnston. In the evening, he’ll attend the Christmas party at Linn-Mar High School in Marion.

* Rudy Giuliani meets with local supporters at Historic Valley Junction in West Des Moines, Iowa. Later, he participates in a town hall meeting at Coe College in Cedar Rapids.

* Mike Huckabee participates in "A Healthy Discussion" on health care policy at Des Moines University in Iowa.

* John McCain holds a campaign event at Bennigan's Restaurant in Urbandale, Iowa. Later, he stops by the Bull Moose Club in Des Moines before going to a house party in Waukee.

* Ron Paul delivers a speech at the Iowa State Fairgrounds in Des Moines.

* Bill Richardson talks about education and jobs at Briar Cliff University in Sioux City, Iowa. Later, he holds campaign events in Storm Lake and Fort Dodge.

* John Edwards holds town hall meetings in Iowa City, Grinnell and Des Moines, Iowa.

* Fred Thompson drops by a debate watch party at North End Diner in Johnston, Iowa.

* The Senate Radio-Television Correspondents' Gallery Daybook

* The House Radio-Television Correspondents' Gallery Daybook


Filed under: AM Political Ticker
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