Des Moines, Iowa (CNN) - Republican presidential contender Rick Santorum suggested Sunday that Mitt Romney's absence at a Christian forum held in Des Moines a day earlier was because he may not have been completely at ease in an environment discussing his faith.
"Clearly this was a forum that Mitt Romney was not particularly comfortable with," Santorum told reporters when asked for his reaction to the Republican frontrunner's decision to skip the event, which was held in a church and sponsored by The Family Leader, a conservative group. The event was aimed at getting to the heart of candidates' core moral and religious beliefs.
BLAINE, Minnesota (CNN) - Former President Bill Clinton told a Minnesota crowd Sunday night that Republican and Tea Party favorite Rep. Michele Bachmann and the party she belongs to is so extreme that even prominent Republicans in history, if they were around today, would be voting for her opponent in this election cycle.
"Every Republican leader from Theodore Roosevelt to Dwight Eisenhower would be voting for [Democrat Tarryl Clark] in this election," Clinton said to cheers from a crowd at a local labor union. "Her opponent and that crowd in Washington make Richard Nixon look like a member of Students for a Democratic Society. They make Newt Gingrich and George Bush look like garden variety liberals."
Las Vegas, Nevada (CNN) – GOP Chairman Michael Steele told a small crowd of Nevada Republican Party activists and candidates that the GOP and the Tea Party are "locked hand in hand"–particularly when it comes to defeating Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.
"What has captured the nation's attention is this little thing called the Senate race," Steele began. "And I'm here to tell you, the people of Nevada, a Senate seat is an awful thing to waste. Do not waste it by re-electing [Senate Majority Leader] Harry Reid. Let's elect Sharron Angle the next senator from this state."
Steele's comments came along his "Fire [House Speaker Nancy] Pelosi" bus tour as it rolled into Las Vegas Sunday afternoon.
Anoka, Minnesota (CNN) – Embracing her strong pro-gun stance, Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann fired off a few rounds from an M4 carbine Thursday morning, according to employees of a local ammunition manufacturer in her district.
The pro-Second Amendment conservative and rising Tea Party movement icon made the final public campaign stop of her two-day bus tour at Federal Ammunition ATK in Anoka, Minnesota.
Photography and videotaping were not allowed. Employees of ATK who were in attendance told CNN about the visit before the campaign ushered them away saying details for the press would be provided by the campaign.
Woodbury, Minnesota (CNN) – Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota kicked off a two day, multi city bus tour Wednesday morning at a bakery and café. But while the two-term Republican congresswoman spoke to local reporters, she was not available to take questions from national media covering the event.
In a Bachmann campaign press release, the tour is touted as the first in a "series" of bus tours throughout her sixth district designed to give Bachmann the chance to "speak with small business owners and concerned [sic] regarding the current struggles facing the economy."
Media was invited to tag along and the release noted there would be a press availability between the first and second stops of the day. Both CNN and FOX News were declined access at the site of the first location, with spokesman Sergio Gor stating the tour is for "local media only."
MACKINAC ISLAND, Michigan (CNN) – Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney had sharp words for President Barack Obama's handling of foreign relations Saturday, saying that the president is "above" the world stage and acting too much as a "neutral arbiter" who uses only words to tell other nations what's right and what's wrong.
Referring to the first months of Obama's presidency, the former Republican presidential candidate said there's been a "dramatic shift," with that shift going in the wrong direction.
"America has always been a ardent supporter of democratic efforts and protecting and defending American values and western values," Romney said, "but this president seems intent to step back to - if you will - lift himself above the world stage and say we're not a player down there with everybody else between the democracies and the autocracies."
"Instead we're going to become the neutral arbiter," Romney continued. "We're going to be above everybody. Almost like the United Nations, sort of telling people what's right and what's wrong, instead of coming down firmly, solidly, and vehemently in favor of democracy."
Florida Gov. Charlie Crist said he thinks President Barack Obama could be in for an ousting from office similar to what happened to Democratic President Jimmy Carter after his first term.(PHOTO CREDITS: Chris Welch/CNN)
MACKINAC ISLAND, Michigan (CNN) – Florida Gov. Charlie Crist said he thinks President Barack Obama could be in for an ousting from office similar to what happened to Democratic President Jimmy Carter after his first term.
"I think the people wanted a change," the Florida Republican said, speaking of the election of Obama in November while drawing similarities to events decades earlier.
"They wanted a change back in 1976. You remember? Richard Nixon had been president. That ended. Gerald Ford took over. The people decided they wanted a change. They got one-Jimmy Carter. Four years later, they took care of business-Ronald Reagan."
"It may happen again," Crist went on. "I believe that the people have seen that they wanted a change but not this much. Not this kind, and not this way. America is awake and we're coming back."
Crist, who's now running for U.S. Senate, said Republicans feel a winning streak coming on for the next few years, "so bad they can taste it," he said. "Especially after the seven or eight or nine months that we've had of this new administration."
Crist was the keynote speaker Friday night at the biennial Mackinac Republican Leadership Conference on Mackinac Island, Michigan.
House Republican Whip Eric Cantor delivered an address himself Saturday morning. Cantor touched on the healthcare debate, calling some of the options being discussed in Washington of late "ill-defined," adding they would be "a gamble," according to remarks sent out by Cantor's campaign committee.
MACKINAC ISLAND, Michigan (CNN) – Minnesota's Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty - widely rumored to be considering a run for the presidency in 2012, and who's been making the rounds on the cable news shows and various states' political events in recent months - defended his nationwide appearances Saturday and said that he plans to continue.
"The point is, I have the time and the energy and the ability to make some time to speak out to issues that I think are important to my state and to the country," Pawlenty said at the biennial Mackinac Republican Leadership Conference on Mackinac Island, Michigan. He added that since this particular event fell on a Saturday he likely "wouldn't be doing the state's business today back in Minnesota" anyway.
The Democratic National Committee has set up a Web page devoted to "calling out" Pawlenty on what the DNC calls his healthcare reform "lies." The DNC even posted Pawlenty's main office phone number and encouraged visitors of the site to call and ask the governor to stop "lying" and "playing politics."
Pawlenty chalked it up to mere "politics," saying simply, "It's what they do."
In a brief interview with CNN, Pawlenty said that he would "eventually" be in Iowa - traditionally the first caucus state - for political events, but also stated that it would likely be in his role as vice chair of the Republican Governors' Association "as opposed to anything else."
Pawlenty also had a few words for President Barack Obama on the health care debate.
"President Obama said in his joint session of Congress he's going to call people out," Pawlenty said. "So we want to call him out back and say, 'Quit bankrupting the country. Stop spending money we don't have. Stop taxing us into oblivion.' "
He finished by saying to the president, "The next time you have a chance to talk to young people, maybe you should apologize for the bucketloads of debt that he's dumping on to their heads and shoulders."
INDIANOLA, Iowa (CNN) - Sen. Al Franken, D-Minnesota, the former comedian who has largely put the funny business on hold as he plays catch-up due to his late arrival in Washington, proved to a Iowa crowd Sunday that he's still got it.
The "Saturday Night Live" alum and Minnesota native was the keynote speaker at Iowa Sen. Tom Harkin's annual Steak Fry party fundraiser.
For obvious reasons, this year's speeches centered largely around health-care reform.
Harkin was recently named chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, taking control of the seat held by the late Sen. Ted Kennedy.
Also a member of that committee now, Franken, in his deadpan delivery, used sarcasm to highlight the importance of the post.
"Its not really that big a deal," he said to laughter, as he slowly went through the list of the group's topics. "I mean, it's only health. Education. Labor. And pensions. I mean, who really would care about those things? Except for maybe people who are concerned about their health or their kids' health or maybe want their kids to go to, oh, a good school, or I don't know, people who work."
The crowd of a couple thousand chuckled and gave him cheers and applause. He then got a bit more serious.