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
July 29th, 2007
11:30 AM ET
12 years ago

British prime minister arrives at Camp David

(CNN) – President Bush welcomed new British Prime Minister Gordon Brown to Camp David late Sunday afternoon, as they hold their first meetings since Brown took office.

Brown landed at Andrews Air Force Base in a driving rain, and boarded a presidential fleet helicopter for the flight to Camp David. The weather had cleared and the sun was shining as the chopper touched down. Mr. Bush greeted Brown as he stepped off, with 3 Marines carrying American flags and 3 Navy sailors carrying the Union Jack in place. They then walked past a military honor cordon of 10 Marines and ten sailors lined up in two rows.

They posed for pictures and chatted as a smiling Mr. Bush led Brown to a waiting golf cart. Pool reporters said Brown could be heard chuckling as the two walked. Brown said, “It’s a great pleasure to be at Camp David. It has so much history associated with it. Do you come here quite a bit?” The President replied, “I do, a lot”.

Mr. Bush drove the cart, labeled “Golf Cart One” with just the two men on board, with the President making a full circle in front of the camera before driving down the path.

The two are expected to have dinner Sunday night. They will hold meetings Monday morning where more weighty subjects including Iraq and terrorism will be discussed. The two leaders then take part in a media availability.

–CNN Political Desk Managing Editor Steve Brusk

Filed under: President Bush
July 29th, 2007
11:29 AM ET
12 years ago

Gonzales dispute may involve data mining

Attorney General Alberto Gonzales testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - A report Sunday by the New York Times said a new disclosure could help clarify one of Attorney General's Alberto Gonzales' statements, which has fueled a controversy over whether he should remain in office.

But on Sunday political talk shows, prominent lawmakers from both sides of the aisle showed no sign of backing down in their calls for his ouster.

"He doesn't have much credibility, and he would do us all a favor if he stepped down and allowed the president to select someone else," Rep. Christopher Shays, R-Conn., told CNN's "Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer."

"You need to be truthful to Congress. You can't be inaccurate so often. Finally there just builds up this incredible credibility gap."

Gonzales' apparently contradictory statements, repeated use of "I don't recall," and refusal to answer many pointed questions in testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee have contributed to calls for his ouster.


Filed under: Alberto Gonzales
July 29th, 2007
11:27 AM ET
12 years ago

Administration looks to push through surveillance changes

WASHINGTON (CNN) - The Bush administration is looking to speed through a "significantly narrowed" group of changes to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act before Congress leaves Washington for its August recess.

One of them would ensure U.S. authorities could intercept on communications between suspected terrorists overseas without a warrant when those communications - due to modern technology - may travel through a switch in the United States.

According to a letter obtained by CNN, Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell informed House and Senate leaders Friday that the administration is willing to temporarily shelve the broader FISA reform plan it's been advocating for months in order to immediately push through a smaller package of changes that would "close the critical gaps in our intelligence capability in the short-term."

The letter describes an "urgent" need for the intelligence community to provide warnings.

Homeland Security chief Michael Chertoff told CNN this month that the United States has seen increased activity by al Qaeda and knows al Qaeda wants to launch an attack on the United States. He also noted that the group has launched attacks in various countries during the summer months. But intelligence officials have also told CNN there is no evidence suggesting a specific threat, and none suggesting the group is more likely to strike in the summer than at any other time.

McConnell wrote in his letter, "Although my strong preference is the immediate adoption of the proposal I transmitted to Congress in April, in light of the urgency of the situation, I offer the attached significantly narrowed proposal focused on the current urgent need of the Intelligence Community to provide warning."

It was addressed to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-California, and House Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio.

Filed under: Uncategorized
July 29th, 2007
09:23 AM ET
12 years ago

Shays: Gonzales "would do us a favor if he stepped down"

WASHINGTON (CNN)–Another Republican Congressman has spoken out against Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. Rep. Chris Shays (R – Connecticut) said today on Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer, "He doesn't have much credibility. And he would do us all a favor if he stepped down and allowed the president to select someone else. You need to be truthful to Congress. You can't be inaccurate so often. Finally, there just builds up this incredible credibility gap."

Shays is the latest in a series of Republicans to suggest Gonzales should step down from his post. The Attorney General has come under fire for the firing of U.S. attorneys, which critics say happened for political reasons.

–CNN Associate Producer Jennifer Burch

Filed under: Alberto Gonzales
July 29th, 2007
08:30 AM ET
12 years ago

Obama comment fires up senior Clinton official

The war of words between Clinton and Obama continued Saturday

(CNN)–Former Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack said he is disappointed with Senator Barack Obama's comments earlier this week about Senator Hillary Clinton. In a stop in Concord, New Hampshire on Thursday, Obama referred to Clinton's approach to foreign policy as "Bush-Cheney light."

"Not only is that not correct, it is a distortion of Senator Clinton's comments and her record," Vilsack said. "But it flies in the face of the promise that Senator Obama gave to all of us when he began his campaign of avoiding negative politics and campaigning with politics as usual."

Vilsack, a Democrat, is the national co-chair of Clinton's presidential campaign.

The Obama and Clinton campaigns have been involved in a war of words over how they would engage rogue governments if elected president. At last Monday's CNN/You Tube Debate, Clinton said she would not meet with leaders of Iran, Syria, North Korea, Cuba, and Venezuela without precondition. Obama, invoking John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan's diplomacy during the Cold War, said that he would meet with leaders of those countries during his first year in office..

Clinton said she did not want to see the power and prestige of the office of the presidency used for what she called “propaganda purposes.” .

"I'm not afraid to lose the P.R. wars to dictators," Obama said Thursday. "I'm happy to look them in the eyes and say what needs to be said..I don't want Bush-Cheney Light."

In a press conference call Saturday, Vilsack took issue with Obama. "Those comments are so wrong, one could say certainly audacious, but honestly they are not particularly hopeful. And I am disappointed in the Senator."

"This is a substantive debate during which she called Obama irresponsible and naive," said an official with the Obama campaign in response to Vilsack. "Obama has been entirely consistent - he never said he would invite dictators over for a cup of coffee and he said he wouldn’t let these dictators use him as a propaganda tool. What he did say was that he would be willing to meet with them."

Obama campaigned in Des Moines, Iowa on Saturday.

–CNN Political Desk Editor Jamie Crawford

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