Thompson raised $3.4 million in June.
WASHINGTON (CNN) – Former Tennessee Sen. Fred Thompson raised $3.4 million in June for a possible White House bid, his presidential exploratory committee announced Tuesday.
“The level of support and enthusiasm from people across this country is inspiring,” said Thompson in a written statement. “It tells me that people are ready for a leader who will change the national attitude from political bickering to a shared vision for our future. A leader who will bring us together, one who understands the challenges we face.”
The committee says it received contributions from 9,167 donors in less than one month and spent just over $625,000 in the same timeframe.
Thompson, who is not yet an official candidate, created a presidential exploratory committee, also known as a “testing the waters” committee, in early June. Federal law required the former senator to register the committee with the Internal Revenue Service as a so-called “527” organization, which he may later convert to a federal campaign committee once he declares his candidacy.
He is expected to officially launch his campaign after Labor Day.
Obama's campaign will air a new ad in Iowa
DES MOINES, Iowa (CNN) –The Obama Campaign announced Tuesday that a new ad focused on reforming Washington will begin airing Wednesday across the Hawkeye State. Ethics reform has become a staple in the Democratic candidate's stump speeches in the region. In a press release, the campaign also plans to put signs reading "Not paid for by PAC or federal lobbyist money" in offices statewide.
"I am extremely proud of amount of money our campaign has raised," the Illinois senator said in a statement, "but I’m even more proud of how we did it. We didn’t take a dime from Washington lobbyists or special interest group because if we’re going to truly change the way Washington works, we need to break the stranglehold that the lobbyists and special interests have on our democracy."
Ethics reform was a primary focus of remarks Obama made Monday in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. In his speech, he said that lobbyists "stop us from addressing issues that matter."
"Special interests dominate on a day to day basis in terms of legislative activity," he said. "If we can’t change that, we’re not going to change anything.”
–CNN Iowa Producer Chris Welch
WASHINGTON (CNN) – Virginia Senator John Warner was full of praise for Senator Hillary Clinton at Tuesday’s confirmation hearing for Joint Chiefs Chair nominee Mike Mullen – maybe a bit too much for her campaign backers.
The funny moment occurred as senators questioned Admiral Mullen before the Armed Services Committee. Chairman Carl Levin, D-Michigan, asked the Democratic presidential hopeful if she would allow Warner to finish his line of questioning before she started. Clinton politely replied, “Absolutely.”
Warner said, “Senator Clinton, may I thank you for that courtesy? You know, the many years that you’ve been on this committee, that’s the hallmark of your service. Courtesy and respect. And you’ve been a good strong working partner through the years.”
Warner then deadpanned, “We don’t want to lose you.”
To laughter, Levin then interrupted, “Your time is up, Senator Warner.”
–CNN's Steve Brusk and Jim Barnett
New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson
DES MOINES, Iowa (CNN) - New Mexico governor and Democratic presidential candidate Bill Richardson will tour southeast Iowa on Thursday for two days of events centering on energy. The campaign announced Tuesday that the former energy secretary will discuss his plan to boost domestic renewable fuel production and making America energy independent.
The eight stops of the tour are all being dubbed as "presidential job interviews" - Richardson's version of town hall meetings - and will begin in Eldridge, Iowa, on Thursday and conclude in Wapello on Friday.
–CNN Iowa Producer Chris Welch
DES MOINES, Iowa (CNN) - It's a sight that Iowans are used to seeing by now, but nonetheless Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards announced that he, too, will be touring the state in a bus.
The campaign said Tuesday that the seven-day trip, dubbed the "Fighting for One America" bus tour, will make stops in 30 counties. It will begin Monday, August 13, in Des Moines, where the Iowa State Fair will be well underway. The tour will take the former senator through all regions of the state before returning back to Des Moines on Sunday, August 19, for a Democratic debate at Drake University.
In a statement, Edwards said, "I’m looking forward to this trip and talking with Iowans about our fight to build One America – an America where everyone has a chance to get ahead and where the needs of regular Americans come before the needs of powerful special interests."
Recently, buses stocked with presidential hopefuls have been no strangers to the Hawkeye State. Thus far Democrat Chris Dodd and Republicans Sam Brownback, Mitt Romney, and Tommy Thompson have all jumped on the bandwagon, so to speak. Republican John McCain also took his "Straight Talk Express" –made famous in his 2000 presidential bid– out for a ride in March.
–CNN Iowa Producer Chris Welch
Rudy Giuliani took issue Tuesday with Democratic health care proposals.
(CNN) - Speaking before a town hall forum Tuesday, Republican presidential hopeful Rudy Giuliani lambasted the health care plans put forward by the Democratic presidential field.
"We've got to do it the American way. The American way is not single-payer, government-controlled anything. That's a European way of doing something; that's frankly a socialist way of doing something," the former New York mayor said. "That's why when you hear Democrats in particular talk about single-mandated health care, universal health care, what they're talking about is socialized medicine."
Giuliani was in Rochester, New Hampshire, to discuss his health care proposals. He said he would reform the current system by using free-market solutions that he said would facilitate consumer-driven health care.
"America's health care system is being dragged down by decades of government-imposed mandates and wasteful, unaccountable bureaucracy," he said. "To reform, we must empower all Americans by increasing health care choices and affordability, while bringing accountability to the system."
Giuliani was scheduled to appear later in the day in Norwalk, Connecticut.
–CNN Political Desk Editor Jamie Crawford
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
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
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
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