(CNN) - Rep. Duncan Hunter of California gave a national-security spin to the issue of trade, raised by a question about lead-contaminated toys imported from China.
"China is cheating on trade, and they're using that $200 billion trade deficit over the United States to buy ships, planes and missiles," Hunter said.
"They are clearly arming, and it's in the interest of the United States to stop China's cheating. My bill that's up right now, incidentally, would do that.
"But what we all ought to do right now in this Christmas season, with about a month to go before Christmas, is buy American," Hunter continued. "That might hire the young person. That just might keep your neighbor from losing his job, and it might help that young person coming back from Iraq and Afghanistan in uniform to have a job when they get back.
"Let's buy American this Christmas season."
– CNN's Jim Kavanagh
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Congressman Duncan Hunter, R-California, who is running for President, called on Mitt Romney, another GOP candidate, to take a public stance on the proposed partnership between the private equity firm Romney founded and a Chinese-based company.
Before running for Governor of Massachusetts in 2002, Romney was the CEO and founder of Bain Capital Partners, a highly successful venture capital and investment firm based in Boston which currently manages more than $50 billion in assets, according to the company's website.
Last month, Bain Capital and China's Huawei Technology purchased 3Com in a deal valued at $2.2 billion. The deal gave the Chinese company a minority stake in 3Com, an internet security company.
Hunter says that 3Com has contracts with the U.S. Dept. of Defense. However, Bain Capital tells CNN 3Com does not contract with the U.S. government directly, and the Chinese company will not have access to sensitive U.S.-origin technology or U.S. government sales as a result of this transaction.
In a letter addressed to Romney, provided to CNN by Hunter's campaign, Hunter claims the Chinese company has ties to Saddam Hussein and the Taliban and asks Romney to come forward with a "clear statement" in opposition to the deal sealed last October.
The Bain Capital deal in question "can only be characterized as irresponsible," Hunter said in a written statement.
In September, other Republicans in the House called on the Bush administration to block the merger and proposed a resolution that says the deal "threatens the national security of the United States and should not be approved by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States."
Romney's campaign provided CNN the following statement in response to the request from Hunter, "Governor Romney is no longer involved in Bain Capital and their investment decisions."
Click here to see CNN's new political portal: CNNPolitics.com
– CNN Political Assignment Editor Katy Byron
(CNN) - Most of the Republican presidential candidates said in a debate Tuesday that they support a Middle Eastern oil firm's bid for a large stake in a major U.S. stock exchange.
The majority of candidates agreed that the deal sealed earlier this year by oil-rich Borse Dubai for 20 percent of the NASDAQ stock exchange did not impact national security.
Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani fielded the question first saying the foreign company should be able to own 20 percent of the stock exchange and that Americans should support foreign-domestic deals "if they are considered to be safe. If they pass safety and security clearances," he said.
The deal was highly scrutinized by the financial and political community opposed to foreign ownership of U.S. businesses.
"But you just can't rule out foreign companies. There's a whole procedure you go through as to whether or not are they safe. Are they secure? We cannot stop doing business with the rest of the world," Giuliani added.
Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, once a businessman and venture capitalist, responded enthusiastically.
"Of course, you let a country invest in the United States,” he said. “Because we're going to have to stop thinking always in terms of defense and trying to keep other people out.”
Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, Texas Rep. Ron Paul, Arizona Sen. John McCain, former Tennesssee Sen. Fred Thompson, and Kansas Sen. Sam Brownback agreed, but California Rep. Duncan Hunter and Colorado Rep. Tom Tancredo did not.
Hunter said he does not believe the company should have been allowed the large stake in the exchange.
"Because I don't trust them," he said.
"If Dubai wanted to buy Wal-Mart, I might think about it," Tancredo joked.
–CNN Assignment Editor Katy Byron
(CNN)–Senator Hillary Clinton, D-New York, is leading the pack of Democratic presidential candidates in the politically crucial state of Iowa, according to a poll of likely caucus participants released by the Des Moines Register on Sunday.
In the poll, Clinton registered 29 percent of those polled. Former North Carolina senator John Edwards, and Senator Barack Obama, D-Illinois, came in with 23 percent and 22 percent respectively. New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson registered 8 percent support in the poll, with Sen. Joe Biden, D-Delaware, at five percent, and Sen. Chris Dodd, D-Connecticut, and Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio at 1 percent each.
The numbers were a significant change from the paper's last poll in May, when Clinton came in third, behind Edwards who was up top, followed by Obama in second place.
On the Republican side, there was no change from the poll in May, as former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney held on to his lead with 29 percent support of those likely GOP caucus goers polled. Former Tennessee senator Fred Thompson, who formally entered the race last month, had 18 percent.
Former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee, who came in second place in the Ames Iowa straw poll in August, was third in the poll at 12 percent, followed by former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani at 11 percent. They were followed by Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, at 7 percent, Rep. Tom Tancredo, R-Colorado, at 5 percent, and Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas at 4 percent. Former Ambassador Alan Keyes had 2 percent support, followed by Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-California at 1 percent.
The Register said the Democratic survey had a margin of error of plus or minus 4.9 percentage points. The paper said the poll of likely Republican caucus goers had the same margin of error.
Click here to CNN's new political portal: CNNPolitics.com
– CNN Political Desk Editor Jamie Crawford
One of the empty podiums on stage Thursday night in Baltimore.
BALTIMORE, Maryland (CNN) - There were ten podiums on the stage, but only six candidates showed up.
Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, former Tennessee Senator Fred Thompson, and Sen. John McCain of Arizona, all said they had scheduling conflicts and skipped Thursday night's PBS All American Presidential Forum on minority issues. The Republican candidates who participated in the debate blasted their rivals for their absence.
"Frankly, I'm embarrassed," former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee said. "I'm embarrassed for our party and I'm embarrassed for those who did not come, because there's long been a divide in this country, and it doesn't get better when we don't show up."
Sen. Sam Brownback, R-Kansas, said it hurts the Republican Party when candidates choose not to participate in debates.
"I want to say just at the outset, I apologize for the candidates that aren't here," Brownback said. "I think this is a disgrace that they're not here."
But moderator Tom Joyner made jokes, at their expense.
"And let me take a moment right here and now to say hello to those of you viewing from home," Joyner said. "Mayor Rudy Giuliani. Senator John McCain. Governor Mitt Romney. And Senator Fred Thompson. Well, you know, I had to call them out."
Related: Not up for debate
– CNN Associate Producer Lauren Kornreich
Rep. Duncan Hunter discussed the war on terror at Wednesday's debate.
(CNN) - Congressman Duncan Hunter said during Wednesday night's GOP debate that, if elected president, he would hold terror suspects indefinitely at Guantanamo Bay if he felt they were too dangerous to be set free and the U.S. could not convict them.
"And let me tell you," said the California Republican, that "the proof of that is the fact that we have conducted these combatant review tribunals. And we've actually sent back to the battlefield or sent back to Afghanistan some of the people that we thought were no longer a threat."
"Some of those people have shown up on the battlefield bearing arms against our soldiers and sailors and airmen and Marines, back on the battlefield after we sent them back," declared Hunter. "If anything, we've been too liberal with the release of terrorists."
Hunter went on to say that the conditions at Guantanamo Bay were, in his view, anything but substandard. "The last time I looked at the menu, they had honey-glazed chicken and rice pilaf on Friday. That's how we treat the terrorists," he said.
"They've got health care that's better than most HMOs. And they got something else that no Democrat politician in America has. They live in a place called Guantanamo, where not one person has ever been murdered," proclaimed the presidential hopeful. "And there's not one politician, one Democrat politician in America, that can say that about one of the prisons in his home district. We've got to keep Guantanamo open."
–CNN Political Desk Editor Jamie Crawford
DES MOINES, Iowa (CNN)– The Ames straw poll is over. The candidates are leaving town, some with ribbons of victory and others with tough decisions to make about whether to continue their presidential campaigns.
We’re about to depart Iowa, but before we do we thought we’d take a look at which candidates may not be candidates much longer.
The straw poll in Ames serves a very important purpose. It traditionally helps narrow the field of GOP presidential hopefuls and yesterday’s contest is expected to be no exception.
So, here are some observations of what could happen.
Perhaps the candidate most wounded by last night’s vote is former Wisconsin Gov. and Bush cabinet secretary Tommy Thompson. He did not meet the expectations that he set for himself leading up to the poll. Thompson made it clear that Iowa was the key to his campaign. He came in sixth in the straw poll with only 7.3 percent of the vote. No word yet on whether he’ll abandon his quest for the White House.
While Sen. Sam Brownback finished in the top three, he was greatly overshadowed by former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee’s surprise second place finish. The Kansas Republican spent a great deal of money on the straw poll and will likely consider leaving the campaign trail to return full time to the Senate.
Even though California Rep. Duncan Hunter finished behind two opponents who did not even participate in the straw poll, there is no chance he is leaving the race anytime soon.
"This is just a start for us, because this is the first real week we have done in Iowa," Hunter said in an interview with CNN prior to the results being reported. “We look at this as a good start."
As for the winners, Huckabee will use the victory to try and raise money for his reinvigorated campaign and the big winner, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, will seek to use the straw poll to continue to build his massive Iowa operation and as a springboard to greater national recognition.
– CNN Deputy Political Director Paul Steinhauser and CNN Political Editor Mark Preston
MITT ROMNEY 4,516 VOTES 31.6%
MIKE HUCKABEE 2,587 VOTES 18.1%
SAM BROWNBACK 2,192 VOTES 15.3%
TOM TANCREDO 1,961 VOTES 13.7%
RON PAUL 1,305 VOTES 9.1%
TOMMY THOMPSON 1,039 VOTES 7.3%
FRED THOMPSON 203 VOTES 1.4%
RUDY GIULIANI 183 VOTES 1.3%
DUNCAN HUNTER 174 VOTES 1.2%
JOHN MCCAIN 101 VOTES .7%
JOHN COX 41 VOTES .3%
14,302 TOTAL BALLOTS CAST
AMES, Iowa (CNN) - When Bill Casey walked onto the campus of Iowa State University Saturday morning, he was planning to vote for Kansas Sen. Sam Brownback in the Republican Party straw poll.
But then Casey happened upon one of Brownback's rivals for the GOP presidential nomination, California Rep. Duncan Hunter, who was greeting attendees in the parking lot.
"He seemed very genuine, and we asked him to tell us why we should vote for him instead of the other candidates and he was pretty forthright and to the point," said Casey, who lives in Keokuk, a city about 230 miles Southeast of Ames. "I liked what he had to say, I guess."
Several hours later, Casey had made his way to Hunter's tent behind the Hilton Coliseum where the straw poll was being conducted, to indulge in some ice cream and take a rest in the shade. Casey walked up to Hunter to shake his hand and tell the congressman he voted for him.
Hunter, who is not expected to win the straw poll, said in an interview after meeting Casey for the second time that he plans to continue with his presidential campaign regardless of the results.
"This is just a start for us, because this is the first real week we have done in Iowa," he said. "We look at this as a good start."
Several of the candidates might drop out of the race for the GOP nomination if they do not do well in the straw poll. Hunter, who is retiring at the close 110th Congress, said that is not an option.
"I think for the guys who have spent a lot of money here getting their message out ... they are going to have to judge whether or not they have done as well as they want to do."
He added, "For us, we consider this a start of a marathon. This is just the tip off."
As for his decision to wear a suit and tie in the oppressive Iowa heat, Hunter said he is used to this type of weather.
"In my district ... the California desert, it is probably 115 (degrees) right now," the congressman said. "This is not bad today."
The results of the straw poll will be announced at 8 p.m. ET.
– CNN Political Editor Mark Preston
AMES, Iowa (CNN)– Voting is underway in the first crucial Republican straw poll contest of the 2008 presidential campaign season. The first ballots were cast at 10am CT here on the campus of Iowa State University in Ames. Voting will last until 6pm local time and results will be announced one hour later.
Voters need to prove they are Iowa residents and need to pay a $35 entrance fee. Many of the campaigns are busing in their supporters and paying for their entrance fees. But the ballots are cast in secret so there is no guarantee on how people will vote, even if they are bused in and their entrance fees paid for by certain campaigns.
After they cast their ballots, voters need to dip their thumbs in indelible ink, similar to the kind used in the Iraqi national elections. This is supposed to prevent people from voting more than once.
Mitt Romney is expected to win today’s straw poll. The big question right now is by how much the former Massachusetts Governor will win. The top three GOP contenders in the national polls, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, former Senator from Tennessee Fred Thompson, who’s yet to announce he’s running for President, and Senator from Arizona John McCain, are not actively taking part in today’s straw poll.
The other big question today is which of the second tier candidates will come in second. Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, Senator from Kansas Sam Brownback, and former Wisconsin Governor and Bush Cabinet Secretary Tommy Thompson are all gunning hard for capturing second place. Congressmen Duncan Hunter and Ron Paul and Tom Tancredo are also here today and hoping for a strong finish.
There’s the possibility that some of these second and third tier candidates may drop out of the race for the White House if they don’t perform well in today’s straw poll.
– CNN Deputy Political Director Paul Steinhauser