July 30th, 2007
04:35 PM ET
12 years ago

Al Gore's son pleads guilty to drug charges

Al Gore III, right, appears with his father, former Vice President Al Gore, and mother, Tipper, at the Oscars in February.

LOS ANGELES (CNN) – Al Gore III pleaded guilty Monday to felony and misdemeanor drug possession charges stemming from his arrest earlier in July when he was pulled over for allegedly driving more than 100 mph in a Toyota Prius.

An Orange County Sheriff's deputy reported that he could smell marijuana when he approached the car. After conducting a search, the deputy found a small amount of marijuana and prescription pills - including Adderall, Vicodin, Xanax and Valium - all without a prescription.

Gore, 24, was charged with two felony counts of possession of a controlled substance, two misdemeanor counts of possessing a controlled substance without a prescription, one misdemeanor count of possession of marijuana and a traffic infraction.

Farrah Emami of the Orange County District Attorney’s Office said the son of former Vice President Al Gore agreed to enter a 90-day residential drug treatment program.

Senior Deputy District Attorney Jaime Coulter told the Associated Press that if Gore successfully completed the drug treatment program the sentencing could be continued for another year and that charges may be dropped in 2009.

"At that point, he will be able to withdraw his guilty plea as if he never entered it," Coulter told the AP.

Gore’s next court date is scheduled for February 7, 2008.

- CNN Assignment Editor Karan Olson

Filed under: Al Gore
July 30th, 2007
04:34 PM ET
12 years ago

Cheney amused by Clinton-Obama foreign policy spat

WASHINGTON (CNN) – Vice President Cheney said Monday he was amused to hear Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama call rival Hillary Clinton “Bush-Cheney Light” last week.

In an interview with CBS Radio, Cheney laughed and said, “I wasn't quite sure. I didn't think that was meant to be a compliment, but it was an interesting line of attack.”

Cheney said he was happy to watch this campaign from the sidelines. He told CBS, “I watch with great interest on both sides, both Republicans and Democrats. Our presidential campaigns are one of the unique and distinguishing features of our society. And the process by which we select presidents and then hold them accountable is unique in many respects here in the United States. As somebody who has participated in that process now for the better part of 40 years, I am always fascinated by it. Not involved this time, but fascinated.”

He said he has no regrets choosing not to seek the Republican nomination for president. Cheney called it “the right decision,” saying, “I addressed that issue some ten years ago, and decided I wasn't going to be a candidate. And that was the right decision for me and my family, and I have no second thoughts.”

While Cheney was briefly acting as president recently, he wrote a letter to his grandkids.  "A souvenir for them to have down the road some day," he said to CBS Radio.  

Cheney will appear on CNN’s “Larry King Live” Tuesday night.

-CNN's Steve Brusk

July 30th, 2007
04:22 PM ET
12 years ago

Cancer survivors angered by Ann Romney's comments

Mitt and Ann Romney

WASHINGTON (CNN) – The wife of Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney is facing criticism from some cancer patients and survivors for saying in a magazine interview that, rather than continue living with multiple sclerosis, she once wished she could “just have cancer and die.”

Ann Romney, who was diagnosed with the degenerative nerve disease in 1998, said in a recent interview with People magazine, “It wasn't as though I was suicidal, but I was at the point where I thought, ‘Couldn't I please just have cancer and die?’”

The comment received an angry reaction from Leroy Sievers, a journalist who has been chronicling his own battle with cancer on National Public Radio.

“Cancer does not bring a quick death. Cancer is painful and debilitating,” said Sievers on his “My Cancer” blog on NPR’s Web site. “Cancer wreaks havoc on the life of anyone who has it and the lives of the people who care about them. Cancer twists the present and steals the future. Cancer hurts.”

Many of the 100-plus readers who commented on Sievers’ posting were also critical of Mrs. Romney’s statements, though some were more charitable.

“Ms. Romney is to be forgiven. She is suffering, too. I'll bet we have all opened our mouths and said something we were sorry for later,” said one reader.

Carolyn Weyforth, a Romney campaign spokeswoman, told CNN, “Mrs. Romney was recounting a very real and very difficult emotional reaction to the news about her disease. It’s something that many people go through, and it’s an honest reflection about a difficult period of her life. It’s a reflection that has obviously evolved as she has come to terms with the disease.”

- CNN Political Researcher Xuan Thai

Filed under: Uncategorized
July 30th, 2007
03:58 PM ET
12 years ago

Obama: Wouldn't leave Iraq immediately

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (CNN) - Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama said Monday if U.S. troops aren't out of Iraq by the time he's president, the first thing he'd do in office is order the Joint Chiefs of Staff to "get a plan to begin withdrawing" troops from Iraq. He was careful not to say he'd try to bring troops home immediately."This will be a messy withdrawal," Obama said. "People who say we'll just pull them out are irresponsible."

Obama made his comments at a town hall meeting in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, to a group of about 600 people, according to the campaign.

The Illinois senator also devoted a substantial amount of time to ethics reform in Washington, taking a few shots at the Bush administration and "no-bid" contracts.

"When our government gives Halliburton seven billion dollars in taxpayer dollars to put out Iraqi oil fires that don't exist, when we hand over Katrina contracts to more of George Bush's FEMA friends, it doesn't just violate the American people's trust," Obama said. "It takes away the tax dollars they've earned and the valuable services they need."

Obama said that lobbyists "stop us from addressing issues that matter" and that the country needs to "change the way business is done in Washington."

"It's not our agenda being moved forward in Washington," he said. "Special interests dominate on a day to day basis in terms of legislative activity.  If we can't change that, we're not going to change anything."

Touting what he says is his refusal to accept money from political action committees has become a staple in Obama's bid for the nomination.

-CNN Iowa Producer Chris Welch

Filed under: Candidate Barack Obama • Iowa • Iraq
July 30th, 2007
03:57 PM ET
12 years ago

Moore and Huckabee: political odd couple

Filmmaker Michael Moore at the premier of "Sicko"

WASHINGTON (CNN) - Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee reached out to filmmaker and liberal activist Michael Moore on Monday, suggesting that the two of them meet to discuss ideas about health care reform because they "could find some common ground and make some positive change."

"The two of us may have something in common: a passion for reforming the health care system in America," Huckabee, a Republican presidential candidate, said in a letter to Moore. "While I respect your efforts to call attention the health care crisis in this country in your movie “Sicko,” I feel that your view that all would be improved with free universal and government provided health care is simplistic."

Huckabee told Moore about a program he implemented while serving as governor of Arkansas that provided 200,000 kids with health insurance and basic benefits to people working in small businesses. He suggested "focusing on prevention, wellness, and early testing" and "incentives to encourage healthy behavior such as eating less, exercising more and quitting smoking."

Since losing over 110 pounds, Huckabee has become a major proponent of encouraging people to change to healthier lifestyles. He will be a guest on The Situation Room on Monday afternoon.

–CNN Associate Producer Lauren Kornreich

Filed under: Healthcare • Michael Moore • Mike Huckabee
July 30th, 2007
03:02 PM ET
12 years ago

Brownback: Support McCain by voting for me

Brownback intern Monica Brown works the phones.

WEST DES MOINES, Iowa (CNN) - Sounds a bit funny at first listen, but it's for real. And it's a tactic that could pay off.

GOP presidential candidate Sam Brownback has about 45 interns at his Iowa headquarters. Twelve hours a day, six days a week, a lot of them do one thing. They call people in Iowa who, based on surveys, say they're already supporting a candidate OTHER than Sam Brownback.

"I see here that you're supporting John McCain, correct?" asked intern Kellen McBeth on the phone. "McCain has chosen not to participate in the straw poll, and we'd like you to show your support for his values by voting for Brownback."

The Ames straw poll is an unofficial test of the Republican candidates and an Iowan tradition. Busloads of party members, mobilized by the rival camps, descend on the town of Ames for a day of entertainment, political talk – and voting. And when top tier candidates decide not to participate - former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani was the first, followed by Sen. John McCain - it makes the outcome of the contest even harder to interpret. Nonetheless, Brownback's interns are offering free tickets to the event for anyone pledging to support to the Kansas senator. The tickets are $30 a piece, and campaigns get no discount as the event is a fundraiser for the Iowa Republican Party.

For the interns, the days are long, and they're bound to feel even longer when sitting in a folding chair with a cell
phone pressed to the ear. But their tenacity is apparent, despite the fact that some people simply don't want to talk to them.

"Sometimes it's a 'yea,' sometimes it's 'no,' but you do what you have to do," said intern Paul Crosby.

And that can be daunting – not least because Iowa voters are known to be hard to sway.

"Your responses matched up perfectly with Senator Brownback," said intern Jason Lavoie on a call. "Have you heard of Senator Brownback? OK, can I send you some info on–" The call appears to end. "[They] hung up. You get that sometimes."

But often, the message does get through.

"Generally it goes well, but some people don't go [to the straw poll] if their candidate isn't going to be in it," said MacBeth. "My job is basically to talk to McCain supporters...and sort of convince them, because McCain isnt particiapting, to support Brownback. They do share a lot of positions…pro-life, gay marriage, and victory in Iraq, and [I say to them] 'Well, you may support McCain, so you might as well support Brownback in the straw poll."


Filed under: Iowa • John McCain • Presidential Candidates • Sam Brownback
July 30th, 2007
02:31 PM ET
12 years ago

Michelle Obama: fashion icon

WASHINGTON (CNN) - Michelle Obama has officially graced her way into the international spotlight as a fashion icon, making it onto Vanity Fair's International Best-Dressed List, the magazine announced Monday.

Obama is joined on the list by, among others, actress Renée Zellweger, rocker Lenny Kravitz, former Giants running back Tiki Barber, real-estate developer Ivanka Trump and French President Nicolas Sarkozy. CNN's Anderson Cooper was named to a separate Vanity Fair “Hall of Fame” list.

This is Obama's first time on the Best-Dressed List.

–CNN Associate Producer Lauren Kornreich

Filed under: Uncategorized
July 30th, 2007
01:29 PM ET
12 years ago

Clyburn of S.C. may not endorse for '08

Listen to the latest Race to '08 podcast.

WASHINGTON (CNN) – The heated presidential race in South Carolina may be too hot for some of the state’s top politicians - including Democratic heavyweight Rep. Jim Clyburn - to pick any side at all.

“I’m going to be looking at things in December, to see what the lay of the land is at that time,” Clyburn told CNN Radio, “if it continues to be the way it is now, I probably won’t endorse.”

Clyburn is the No. 3 Democrat in the U.S. House and former head of the Congressional Black Caucus. In the world of endorsements, his would be platinum with a lot of sparkle, considering that South Carolina plans the first Democratic primary in the south and a majority of the voters in the state's primary could be African-American.

Clyburn seems to be only half-joking when he points to a split within his family as reason to stay out of the race. Symbolic or not, one daughter prefers Barack Obama, another Hillary Clinton and still a third family member backs John Edwards. But a larger factor could be that the eight-term Democrat has been stung before. Clyburn endorsed and set up a state campaign for former Missouri congressman Dick Gephardt in 2004. But Gephardt left the race well before the Palmetto State primary.

“I thought he would do well in South Carolina. But he had to get to South Carolina and he didn’t,” Clyburn said. “And so maybe I learned my lesson.”

Clyburn’s Republican neighbor Rep. Henry Brown has a similar approach to the GOP race.

“I don’t know that I will endorse,” he said, “I typically don’t. And it’s still very early.”

South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford vigorously endorsed Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, in 2000, but like Brown and Clyburn, Sanford is withholding any presidential endorsement for now.

-CNN Radio’s Lisa Goddard

July 30th, 2007
01:05 PM ET
12 years ago

Giuliani to reveal health care plan

WASHINGTON (CNN) - Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani will detail his plan to reform the health care system on Tuesday, continuing his campaign to unveil "Twelve Commitments" to the American people, his campaign announced Monday.

"Rudy Giuliani strongly believes in limited government and giving American families more control over their health care decisions,” Steve Goldsmith, Giuliani's Chief Domestic Policy Advisor, said in a statement. “He understands that failed mandates and wasteful, unaccountable bureaucracies lead to the exclusion of millions of Americans from quality care and health insurance.”

Giuliani will reveal his health care policy at a town hall forum in New Hampshire. He will focus on fixing the tax code to help people buy their own insurance, creating incentives for states to come up with new solutions and driving down the cost of health care and prescription drugs, his health care advisors said on a conference call.

Giuliani announced his plan in June to unveil a wide range of policy proposals, called the "Twelve Commitments." As part of that plan, he has already detailed a new energy initiative.

–CNN Associate Producer Lauren Kornreich

Filed under: Healthcare • Rudy Giuliani