(CNN) – Amid reports that GOP presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee's campaign is running low on cash and making cutbacks, embedded CNN photojournalists Derek Davis and Jung Park filed this diary entry just days before the campaign announced it would no longer give journalists an opportunity to buy a ticket and travel with the candidate. This week, the campaign grounded its chartered press airplanes entirely.
A ton of gear, a non-stop schedule, and constant airplane travel. If you’re a CNN photojournalist like me who’s embedded with a presidential campaign, those things are part of a typical day.
Not so typical: an afternoon riding a toilet seat in a propeller plane over South Carolina.
Late last week, we were with the former Arkansas governor as he campaigned in South Carolina in his final push before the GOP primary.
As photographers for CNN, we have the opportunity to witness politics up close, literally to have a front row seat to history in the making. But, politics also means something else to people like us in the trenches: It’s physical. It’s exciting. It’s tough.
LEXINGTON, South Carolina (CNN) – Did Bill Clinton have one of his trademark late nights on Wednesday? It sure seemed that way at a campaign event Thursday morning in Lexington, where Clinton showed up nearly an hour late to his first stop of the day.
"I feel like a little scrambled eggs this morning," a lethargic Clinton said, arriving to tepid applause. "But I will try to make sense of what I can."
Clinton said he was up late in Myrtle Beach answering three hours worth of questions from voters there, finally hitting the sack at 1 a.m.
It was indeed a sleepy affair. As reporters and audience members waited patiently through what seemed like the entire Clinton campaign soundtrack, a Clinton aide quietly removed several empty chairs from the line of sight of television cameras.
But, to be fair, Lexington County isn't exactly a Democratic stronghold: it's considered the most conservative county in South Carolina. He'll likely have a larger turnout later today at an event in heavily-Democratic Orangeburg.
– CNN South Carolina Producer Peter Hamby
(CNN) – Bill Clinton became visibly upset Wednesday over comments by a prominent South Carolina Democrat that compared the former president's actions on the trail to those of infamous Republican strategist Lee Atwater.
In an interview with CNN's Jessica Yellin, Dick Harpootlian, a former chairman of the South Carolina Democratic Party and a supporter of Barack Obama, said some of Bill Clinton's recent remarks on the campaign trail were appeals based on race and gender. He said the comments were meant to "suppresses the vote, demoralize voters, and distort the record," and said they were "reminiscent of Lee Atwater."
Clinton sharply disputed the charge, and lashed out at Yellin for raising the question.
"You live for this. This hurts the people of South Carolina," he said. "Because the people of South Carolina come to these meetings and ask questions about what they care about. And what they care about is not what's going to be in the news coverage tonight, because you don't care about it.
"What you care about is this. And the Obama people know that. So they just spin you up on this and you happily go along. I mean, the people don't care about this," he added. "They never ask about it. And you are determined to take this election away from them. And that's not right. That is not right. This election ought to belong to those people who are out here asking questions about their lives."
(CNN) - After a week of tense rhetoric regarding the role of race in the presidential election, Bill Clinton said Wednesday that it could cost his wife Hillary Clinton a win in South Carolina.
The former president told voters at a campaign stop in Charleston that race and gender considerations hadn’t cost his wife or Barack Obama any votes so far this campaign – but that some women voters might be drawn to Clinton because of her gender, and some black voters to Obama because of his race: “They are getting votes because of race and gender. That’s why people tell me Hillary doesn’t have a chance to win here.”
Roughly 50 percent of South Carolina’s Democratic primary electorate is black. Barack Obama is leading that group in most recent surveys.
Bill Clinton also addressed concern over his potential involvement in his wife’s administration if she wins the election next November, repeating earlier assurances that he would not serve in the cabinet or hold a full-time staff job.
“She has to have a strong vice president, a strong secretary of state and a strong cabinet,” he said, and “they need to know on the front end that I'm not gonna be big-footing them. That is not my job. I have got a whole other life out here,” spearheading the non-profit Clinton Foundation.
“But I will be there,” he added. “I will do for her what she did for me - I will talk to her about everything.”
Former President Clinton will be campaigning in South Carolina through the Democratic primary this Saturday.
–CNN’s Emily Sherman and Rebecca Sinderbrand
(CNN) - Within hours of one of the toughest primary season debates to date, John Edwards released a new ad in South Carolina that painted the two Democratic frontrunners as beholden to special interests.
Edwards, who has yet to win a primary-season contest, is running a distant third in his birth state, behind Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.
The ad features side-by-side shots of Clinton and Obama, as the announcer says: “One gets more money than anyone from drug companies. The other one takes more money than anyone from Washington lobbyists. What's happened to the Democratic Party? Whatever happened to the party of the people?”
“The only one who's never taken a dime from PACs or Washington lobbyists, who knows we've been ignored too long, who knows that rebuilding the middle class is more important that politics - our John Edwards. The only one.”
South Carolina’s Democratic voters head to the polls this Saturday, January 26.
(CNN) – The first leading black presidential candidate got a tough question last night about one of his biggest campaign trail foes: the ‘first black president.’
CNN’s Joe Johns asked Barack Obama whether he thought former President Bill Clinton was the nation’s ‘first black president,’ an observation famously coined by black Nobel laureate Toni Morrison.
“Bill Clinton did have an enormous affinity with the African-American community, and still does, and I think that’s well-earned,” said Obama, who has spent the past few days locked in a high-profile war of words with the former president, who has been stumping on behalf of his wife Hillary Clinton.
But he wasn’t quite ready to grant Clinton Morrison’s honorary title just yet. “I would have to investigate more Bill’s dancing abilities, you know, some of this other stuff before I accurately judged whether he was in fact a ‘brother,’” joked the Illinois senator.
Monday’s Democratic presidential debate was sponsored by CNN and the Congressional Black Caucus Institute and held on Martin Luther King Jr. Day in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Roughly half the Democratic primary voters in this Southern state are black.
The Democratic presidential primary will be held this Saturday, January 26.
Myrtle Beach, South Carolina (CNN) - It's unusually cold in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, but it's bound to heat up inside the Palace Theatre - the stage for tonight's CNN/Congressional Black Caucus Democratic Debate.
Go behind the scenes as CNN producers and reporters prepare for the last showdown between the Democratic presidential candidates before South Carolina voters weigh in.
MYRTLE BEACH, South Carolina (CNN) – More tit-for-tat on the campaign trail – only this time, it’s between Barack Obama and Bill Clinton.
After losing the caucus tally in Nevada, the Obama campaign took aim at Bill Clinton and the comments he made during his many campaign stops in that state on behalf of his wife, Hillary Clinton.
Now the Illinois senator himself is taking on the former president, telling Good Morning America that he feels as if he’s running against both Clintons.
In the interview, Obama said that the former president has been misrepresenting both “my record of opposition to the war in Iraq” and “our approach to organizing in Las Vegas,” as the controversy over Saturday’s Nevada caucus vote continues to grow.
Obama campaign senior adviser David Axelrod did not back away from the remarks after they became public Sunday night, telling CNN the Clintons “have a good cop, bad cop thing going” in which “he comes with a negative message she stays positive.”
Axelrod accuses the former President of “doing slash and burn stuff,” and slams the Clinton campaign, saying “there’s a philosophy of saying and doing anything it takes.”
“It’s very clear that Bill Clinton is playing fast and loose with the facts,” says Axelrod, and unbecoming of a former president: “It’s been a little crass, as someone who supported him and respects him, I think it’s disappointing.”
(CNN) – John McCain Sunday brushed aside suggestions exit polls from the South Carolina Republican primary suggest he still is failing to garner widespread support from his party's base.
"I got more votes than anybody else, and it says that I got it from across the spectrum from all over the state," McCain told CNN's Dana Bash. "We expected this to be a very highly contested race, and for the 28 years the candidate who has won South Carolina has been the nominee of the party."
The Arizona senator edged out Mike Huckabee Saturday night in the first Southern primary of the race, 33 percent to 30 percent. But according to exit polling, McCain narrowly trailed Huckabee in support from the 80 percent of primary voters who identified themselves as Republicans. Huckabee won 32 percent of their support compared to McCain's 31 percent. (McCain overwhelmingly won among the remaining 20 percent of primary voters who identified themselves as independents.)
McCain has long had difficulty currying favor from his party's conservative wing. Despite his solid voting record in the senate, many ardent Republicans have been unhappy with his past willingness to team up with liberal Sens. Russ Feingold on campaign finance reform and Ted Kennedy on immigration. McCain drew only 26 percent of the conservative vote in South Carolina Saturday.
Support from the base will be crucial in upcoming contests: McCain now faces a bevy of state primaries where independents are not allowed to participate, beginning with Florida’s vote on January 29. But the Arizona senator is predicting that his support among veterans, his economic proposals, and his record on environmental issues important to many Floridians will carry him to victory there.
Related video: Watch Dana Bash's interview with Sen. McCain
– CNN Ticker Producer Alexander Mooney
(CNN) - Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee thanked his supporters and congratulated South Carolina's apparent GOP primary winner Sen. John McCain for running "a civil and a good and a decent campaign."
"The two of us who finished at the top ran a campaign of civility without attacking each other," Huckabee said. "I'd rather be where I am and to have gotten here with honor than to have won with the dishonor of attacking other candidates."
However, he added, the GOP presidential race "is not an event, it is a process - and the process is far, far from over."