August 22nd, 2007
07:50 PM ET
13 years ago

Clinton: It's time for Maliki to go

Clinton called for the removal of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki Wednesday.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - White House frontrunner Hillary Clinton called for the ouster of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki Wednesday afternoon, hours after President Bush expressed confidence in the embattled leader.

"The Iraqi government’s failures have reinforced the widely held view that the Maliki government is nonfunctional and cannot produce a political settlement, because it is too beholden to religious and sectarian leaders," the New York senator said in a statement given exclusively to CNN’s Jessica Yellin.

Clinton went on to say she "hope[s] that the Iraqi parliament will replace Prime Minister Maliki with a less divisive and more unifying figure when it returns in a few weeks."

Clinton's comments come two days after Michigan Sen. Carl Levin, recently returned from Iraq, said he had lost confidence in the al-Maliki government. Levin is the Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee; Clinton also has a seat on the panel.

But President Bush expressed confidence in the Iraqi leader during a speech before the Veterans of Foreign Wars convention earlier Wednesday.

"Prime Minister Maliki's a good guy, good man with a difficult job and I support him," he said. “And it's not up to the politicians in Washington, D.C., to say whether he will remain in his position.”

Clinton, who came under fire from some of her Democratic White House rivals earlier in the week for saying the surge policy was "working" in some areas, also reaffirmed her position that there is "not a military solution in Iraq."

"Progress will only come from political reconciliation and compromise from the Iraqis themselves," she said in the statement. "Given that reality, the President’s escalation strategy is not succeeding." After Maliki, Few Good Alternatives

- CNN's Jessica Yellin and Alexander Mooney contributed to this report

Filed under: Hillary Clinton • President Bush
August 22nd, 2007
07:34 PM ET
9 years ago

Romney to enter the health care fray

Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney

WASHINGTON (CNN) - Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney announced members of his health care policy advisory group Wednesday who will help him formulate his policy goals as he seeks the 2008 Republican presidential nomination.

Romney’s health care team is composed of Rep. Tom Price of Georgia, an orthopaedic surgeon from the Atlanta area who practiced medicine for more than 20 years before being elected to Congress; Tim Murphy, the president of Beacon Health Strategies and former Massachusetts Health and Human Services Secretary under former Gov. Romney; Rep. Phil Gingrey, an obstetrician and gynecologist who practiced medicine for more than 25 years before being elected to Congress; John Cogan, a professor of public policy at Stanford University; Glenn Hubbard, the dean of the Columbia Business School; and Cindy Gillespie, who served as a counselor to Romney during his tenure as Massachusetts governor.

Under Romney, Massachusetts passed a law requiring every resident to have health insurance. Bay State residents, who cannot afford to pay for insurance, are eligible for a subsidy from the state to receive insurance free of cost, or to be exempted from the coverage requirement. Murphy and Gillespie were both involved in passing the Massachusetts law, according to the press release issued by the Romney campaign on Wednesday.

Romney is set to outline his plan for reforming the health care system in a campaign stop on Friday. Former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani, Illinois Sen. Barack Obama, New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, and former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards have already released health care reform proposals and health care is expected to be a major domestic issue in the 2008 presidential race.

- CNN Associate Producer Martina Stewart

Related: Richardson unveils universal health care plan

Giuliani attacks Democratic health care plans as 'socialist'

Obama says his prescription plan could save billions

Edwards to tout health care plan in Detroit

Filed under: Healthcare • Mitt Romney
August 22nd, 2007
03:30 PM ET
13 years ago

Biden reshuffles fundraising team

WASHINGTON (CNN) - With less than five months before the Iowa caucuses, Sen. Joe Biden is retooling his presidential fundraising operation in an effort to raise more money for what is expected to be a costly and divisive stretch run for the Democratic presidential nomination.

Dennis Toner, a longtime Biden fundraiser, takes over for Chris Koerner to run the day-to-day finance operation, a Biden aide confirmed to CNN. Koerner will stay on with the campaign and focus heavily on raising money from trial lawyers. News of the Biden restructuring was first reported Wednesday by The Washington Post.

Biden is also seeking to increase his financial strength in the Northeast, assigning larger roles to Paula Levine, a New York fundraiser, and Mary Liz Kane, Sen. Ted Kennedy's Boston fundraiser.

Biden has raised approximately $4.4 million since the beginning of the year - less than all the other Democratic candidates except for Ohio Rep. Dennis Kucinich and former Alaska Sen. Mike Gravel. As of June 30, he has $2.8 million cash on hand.

- CNN Ticker Producer Alexander Mooney

Filed under: Joe Biden
August 22nd, 2007
12:31 PM ET
13 years ago

Bush invokes 'tragedy of Vietnam' against Iraq pullout

Watch Bush's comments Wednesday on Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki

KANSAS CITY, Missouri (CNN) - President Bush drew parallels between the aftermath of the Vietnam War and the potential costs of pulling out of Iraq in a speech Wednesday.

"Three decades later, there is a legitimate debate about how we got into the Vietnam War and how we left," Bush told members of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, at their convention in Kansas City, Missouri.

"Whatever your position in that debate, one unmistakable legacy of Vietnam is that the price of America's withdrawal was paid by millions of innocent citizens, whose agonies would add to our vocabulary new terms like 'boat people,' 're-education camps' and 'killing fields,' " the president said.

Full story

Filed under: Iraq • President Bush
August 22nd, 2007
11:01 AM ET
13 years ago

Elizabeth Edwards: I haven't changed

Watch CNN's Kiran Chetry interview Elizabeth Edwards.

WASHINGTON (CNN) Elizabeth Edwards has become a key player in her husband's second bid for the White House, but she insisted in a CNN interview Wednesday that she's the same person she has always been.

"I think that I've not really changed," Edwards told CNN's Kiran Chetry on "American Morning." "People who do know me from 2004 know that I haven't actually changed."

Her husband, former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards, is seeking the Democratic presidential nomination.

Elizabeth Edwards added that during her husband's first White House run four years ago - before her public battle with breast cancer - she received considerably less media attention than she does now.

"I was traveling on a news free zone before - nobody really covered me," she said. "I would be in smaller markets talking to smaller groups usually of women about women's issues - and had very little press. Now, there's more press."

In recent months, Elizabeth Edwards has made several sharp statements, including a strong critique of New York Sen. Hillary Clinton's record on women's issues, a biting characterization of Illinois Sen. Barack Obama as "holier than thou," and a confrontation with conservative commentator Ann Coulter on MSNBC.

She also came under fire last month for telling an interviewer, "we can't make John black, we can't make him a woman" and argued her husband receives less media attention because he lacks the interesting stories of his chief rivals.

Elizabeth Edwards told CNN Wednesday she could have phrased that point better, saying "I think the press is legitimately interested in what is really a fascinating story - a candidate with an African-American heritage and women candidate.

"I don't begrudge the press being interested in it but it is hard to get a candidate who doesn't have those atmospherics and just trying to talk about policy into the discussion," she added.

- CNN Ticker Producer Alexander Mooney

August 22nd, 2007
10:45 AM ET
13 years ago

Advocates for the Iraq war seek congressional support

Fleischer's advocacy group is pressuring Congress to support the Iraq war.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - A new political advocacy group, tied to former White House spokesman Ari Fleischer, is launching a new effort to pressure Congress to support the Iraq war.

The organization, Freedom's Watch, also unveiled new pro-war internet ads on its website and and will spend $15 million to air these commercials between now and mid-September on both television and radio.

The group's purpose is "to rally the country and encourage Congress to fully fund the troops in Iraq," Fleischer, a former spokesman for President Bush, said in an email Wednesday to CNN. Fleischer is the group's spokesman.

Freedom's Watch's web site also encourages grassroots action, calling on supporters to lobby their members of Congress to support the war in Iraq and "to protect America against the global war on terror."

- CNN's Adam Levine

Filed under: Iraq
August 22nd, 2007
10:05 AM ET
13 years ago

Thompson slams New York, Giuliani over gun laws

Thompson took a dig at his future GOP rival Tuesday.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - He's not even an official presidential candidate yet, but former Tennessee Sen. Fred Thompson took a not-so-subtle dig at White House frontrunner Rudy Giuliani Tuesday, slamming New York City's gun laws on his Web site.

The former "Law & Order" star criticized how the city Giuliani once led tries to "force its ways on the rest of us," and railed against "the same activist judge from Brooklyn who provided Mayor Giuliani with the legal ruling it sought to sue gun makers" for allowing the city to "sue out of state gun stores."

Thompson went on to argue an increase in gun ownership rates leads to a decrease in crime, and reinforced his pledge to appoint conservative judges to the courts "who apply the law as written."

Katie Levinson, a spokeswoman for the former New York City mayor's campaign, was quick to respond to Thompson's charges saying, "Those who live in New York in the real world – not on TV – know that Rudy Giuliani's record of making the city safe for families speaks for itself. No amount of political theater will change that."

Thompson's comments were his most pointed jab yet at a potential GOP rival and the latest sign he is an all-but-declared presidential candidate. Officially though, Thompson is only "testing the waters" - a legal distinction with the Federal Election Commission that prevents him from actively campaigning for the presidential nomination. The former actor is expected to jump into the race early next month. (Related: FEC complaint filed against Thompson)

Giuliani, who leads in most national presidential polls, is also the target of rival Mitt Romney's new radio ad, in which the former Massachusetts governor slams cities with what he calls "sanctuary" for illegal immigrants specifically "Newark, San Francisco and New York City." Fred Thompson and Iowa's Great Bull

- CNN Ticker Producer Alexander Mooney

Filed under: Fred Thompson • Mitt Romney • Rudy Giuliani
August 22nd, 2007
09:04 AM ET
13 years ago

Rivals criticize Clinton for Iraq praise

Clinton addressed the VFW convention Monday.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - White House hopeful Hillary Clinton is taking heat Tuesday from some of her Democratic rivals over recent comments suggesting the president's surge policy in Iraq is "working."

The remarks came during an address to the Veterans of Foreign Wars convention Monday, in which the New York Democrat said the president's Iraq policy was leading to success in "some areas."

"We've begun to change tactics in Iraq, and in some areas, particularly in Al Anbar province, it's working," she said. "We're just years too late in changing our tactics."

"We can't ever let that happen again," Clinton added. "We can't be fighting the last war. We have to keep preparing to fight the new war."

New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson quickly jumped at the chance to highlight Clinton's seeming praise of the president.

“The fact is the surge is not working," he said in a statement. "I do not give President Bush the same credit on Iraq that Hillary does."

Meanwhile, David Bonior, former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards' campaign manager, called Clinton's comments "another instance of a Washington politician trying to have it both ways."

Though Bonior did agree with Clinton that there was "progress" in Al Anbar, he said "by cherry-picking one instance to validate a failed Bush strategy, it risks undermining the effort in the Congress to end this war."

Howard Wolfson, Clinton's communication's director, charged that Bonior was distorting Clinton’s position.

"Senator Edwards was right on Sunday when he said that all the Democrats would end the war and that the differences between them were small," he said. "He is wrong today to distort Senator Clinton's opposition to the surge in a sad attempt to raise his flagging poll numbers."

"The fact is that while Democrats, including Senator Edwards and Senator Obama, acknowledge progress in Al Anbar, Senator Clinton opposed the surge from the start and believes there is no military solution to the war in Iraq," Wolfson added.

- CNN Ticker Producer Alexander Mooney

Filed under: Bill Richardson • Hillary Clinton • John Edwards
August 22nd, 2007
09:03 AM ET
13 years ago

CNN Political Ticker AM

Compiled by Stephen Bach, CNN Washington Bureau

Making news today...

* "President Bush pointedly declined Tuesday to offer a public endorsement of embattled Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki." (Washington Post)

The New York Times offers a page 1 analysis this morning: "Bush Takes a Step Away From Maliki" 

* A new Gallup poll shows "the Democrat-led Congress' job-approval rating sank to 18 percent, the lowest rating since Gallup began tracking that public-opinion measurement in 1974." (Washington Times)

Gallup's analysis

* "Even though former Sen. Fred Thompson (R-Tenn.) has yet to formally enter the presidential race, he is already engaged in a battle with GOP frontrunner and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani." (The Hill)

Thompson "took a not-very-veiled swipe yesterday" at Giuliani "for supporting gun control." (New York Times)

* Hillary Clinton is taking heat Tuesday from some of her Democratic rivals over recent comments suggesting the president's surge policy in Iraq is "working."

Full story on The Ticker 

* "Barack Obama said his sharp-tongued wife, Michelle, was not aiming at Hillary Clinton when she recently declared, 'If you can't run your own house, you can't run the White House.'" (New York Post)

ICYMI, from The Ticker: Did Michelle Obama take a swipe at Clinton? 

Also, the LA Times profiles Michelle Obama on A1 today.

* And why is a top aide to NY Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno accused of leaving a "psycho rant" on the voicemail of Governor Spitzer's 83-year-old father? Check out the story in Hot Topics below!

President's Schedule:

* The president makes remarks to the Veterans of Foreign Wars National Convention in Kansas City, MO, at 10:55 am ET. has a preview:

As he awaits a crucial progress report on Iraq, President Bush will try to put a twist on comparisons of the war to Vietnam by invoking the historical lessons of that conflict to argue against pulling out.

Bush will tell members of the Veterans of Foreign Wars that "then, as now, people argued that the real problem was America's presence and that if we would just withdraw, the killing would end," according to speech excerpts released Tuesday by the White House.

Also on the Political Radar:

* Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) heads to New York for a community organizing meeting with SEIU local 1199 in Manhattan and Brooklyn for Obama event at the New York Marriott at the Brooklyn Bridge. Doors 5 pm ET.

Tonight, Obama appears on "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart."

* Mike Huckabee introduces himself to local residents over breakfast in Greenville and lunch in Spartanburg, SC.

* John Edwards tours the UNLV Solar Site in Las Vegas at 2:30 pm ET.

* Mitt Romney holds a 4:30 pm ET meet and greet at the 49'er Inn in Jackson Hole, WY. A media availability follows.

* Bill Richardson and Sen. Joe Biden (D-DE) attend the Brookings Opportunity '08 Democratic issue forum at the University of Nevada-Reno. Richardson and Biden are scheduled to speak at 5 pm ET.

* Rudy Giuliani holds an 8:15 pm ET rally with supporters at The Hilton San Diego/Del Mar in Del Mar, CA.

Political Hot Topics

(Today's top political stories from news organizations across the country)

NEW REPORT DETAILS CIA "MISSTEPS" LEADING UP TO 9/11: A report released Tuesday by the Central Intelligence Agency includes new details of the agency's missteps before the Sept. 11 attacks, outlining what the report says were failures to grasp the role being played by the terror mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and to assess fully the threats streaming into the C.I.A. in the summer of 2001. The 19-page report, prepared by the agency's inspector general, also says 50 to 60 C.I.A. officers knew of intelligence reports in 2000 that two of the Sept. 11 hijackers, Nawaf al-Hamzi and Khalid al-Mihdhar, may have been in the United States. But none of those officers thought to notify the Federal Bureau of Investigation about the potential domestic threat, the report says, evidence of what it calls a systemic failure. New York Times: C.I.A. Lays Out Errors It Made Before Sept. 11 

BUSH STOPS SHORT OF ENDORSING MALIKI: President Bush pointedly declined Tuesday to offer a public endorsement of embattled Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, expressing his disappointment at the lack of political progress in Iraq and saying that widespread popular frustration could lead Iraqis to replace their government. "The fundamental question is: Will the government respond to the demands of the people?" Bush said. Stopping short of directly endorsing Maliki, as he has on several previous occasions, Bush continued, "If the government doesn't respond to the demands of the people, they will replace the government." Washington Post: Bush Turns Up Heat on Maliki 

THREE AMIGOS RIDICULE IDEA OF "NORTH AMERICAN UNION": President Bush and the leaders of Canada and Mexico yesterday ridiculed the notion that their countries are conspiring to create a regional supergovernment similar to the European Union. "I'm amused by the difference between what actually takes place in the meetings and by what some are trying to say takes place," said Mr. Bush, responding to concerns raised by conservative and liberal groups and some U.S. lawmakers. "It's quite comical actually, to realize the difference between reality and what some people on TV are talking about." Washington Times: Bush denies planning for a superstate 

THE "ART" OF DETERRING PROTESTERS: Not that they're worried or anything. But the White House evidently leaves little to chance when it comes to protests within eyesight of the president. As in, it doesn't want any. A White House manual that came to light recently gives presidential advance staffers extensive instructions in the art of "deterring potential protestors" from President Bush's public appearances around the country. Among other things, any event must be open only to those with tickets tightly controlled by organizers. Washington Post: White House Manual Details How to Deal With Protesters 

CONGRESSIONAL JOB APPROVAL HITS 18 PERCENT – ALL TIME LOW: A Gallup poll yesterday showed the Democrat-led Congress' job-approval rating sank to 18 percent, the lowest rating since Gallup began tracking that public-opinion measurement in 1974. The approval rating dropped nine percentage points since last month as 76 percent of Americans registered unhappiness with Congress' performance, according to the survey. Voters have not held Congress in such low esteem since Gallup recorded another 18 percent job-approval rating during the congressional check-bouncing scandal in March 1992 or a 19 percent rating during crippling gasoline shortages in the summer of 1979. Washington Times: Congress approval hits all-time low 

NASTY EMAILS ON THE HILL: A battle between the offices of Sens. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) and Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) over a controversial earmark intensified earlier this month, displaying how debates on Capitol Hill sometimes can turn personal. The senators had been at odds over the matter for much of the summer, but it would reach a new level when John Hart, communications director for Coburn, forwarded a news article detailing his boss's request for an investigation of a defense contractor... "This will shut that f-er up," Hart stated in an Aug. 1 e-mail sent from his Senate account to several of his colleagues. "I can't wait to send an In Case You Missed It to Nebraska press that will be forwarded to a–face." In a reply-all, Coburn legislative director Roland Foster joked that media calls should be directed to Nelson's hairdresser and "his son's probation officer."... When Hart typed out the three recipients for that first e-mail, he was one letter off on one colleague's name. That meant that when he hit "Send," the e-mail went to a staffer in the office of Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska.) The Hill: Senate earmark battle turns very personal 

ARIZONA JOINS SUPER DUPER TUESDAY: Arizona is joining roughly 20 states with presidential-primary elections or caucuses on Feb. 5, aides of Gov. Janet Napolitano confirmed Tuesday. Scheduling of the primary is left to the governor, and Napolitano's proclamation moves the election up three weeks from its traditional date on the last Tuesday in February. In 2004, she moved the presidential primary to Feb. 3. As reported last week by The Arizona Republic, Feb. 5 had been considered the likeliest date for Arizona's primary in 2008, in part because that's the earliest the primary could be scheduled without violating national-party guidelines. Arizona Republic: State presidential primary to be moved up to Feb. 5, governor's aides confirm 

GINGRICH 527 RAISES $$$, QUESTIONS: [Newt] Gingrich, a former speaker of the House, has stayed in the news as he has vacillated on a possible presidential bid. His chief vehicle is American Solutions, a so-called "527" group created last year to address public policy issues ranging from Social Security to immigration. Although American Solutions is billed as a policy shop, it has allowed the former speaker to pay staff, air ads and travel the country giving speeches - much like presidential contenders... Unlike the declared presidential candidates, Gingrich's group doesn't have to abide by federal campaign laws that limit contributions to $4,600 per election cycle and bar corporations and unions from giving. The Politico: Newt's 527 raises questionable contributions 

THOMPSON TAKES ON GIULIANI, NYC GUN LAWS: Even though former Sen. Fred Thompson (R-Tenn.) has yet to formally enter the presidential race, he is already engaged in a battle with GOP frontrunner and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani. The Giuliani campaign hit back hard at Thompson after the presumed candidate posted a blog on his website taking aim at New York City gun control laws and singling out Giuliani by name. "When I was working in television, I spent quite a bit of time in New York City," Thompson wrote. "There are lots of things about the place I like, but New York gun laws don't fall in that category." The Hill: Thompson, Giuliani start trading shots 

YANKEES FAN RUDY SCORES ANGELS OWNER'S BACKING: Is there no shame in politics? Or even Mudville? Top of the Ticket has learned that the presidential campaign of Rudy Giuliani will announce overnight that the former New York mayor and lifelong insane Yankees fan has been endorsed by Angels owner Arte Moreno. Whether you consider them the Anaheim Angels or the Los Angeles Angels, what, Moreno couldn't go outside the American League to find a presidential candidate to endorse? What are the playoff implications of this? "Arte Moreno is a good friend," explains Giuliani, who is attending tonight's Angels-Yankees tilt. "And one of the most respected owners in Major League Baseball." Los Angeles Times blog: POLITICAL SHOCKER: Angels owner endorses Yankees fan! 

McCAIN NEEDS INDEPENDENTS FOR ANY CHANCE IN NEW HAMPSHIRE: At a recent Merrimack, New Hampshire, town-hall meeting, just about every Republican in the crowd of 200 wore a John McCain button or sticker. For the presidential hopeful, that wasn't entirely good news. Even more than he needs die-hard Republicans, McCain is trying to attract New Hampshire's independents, who represent an estimated 44 percent of the state's voters. Unless he can recapture their hearts and ballots, he's unlikely to repeat his 2000 primary victory, an essential step for him to win the party's nomination in 2008. Bloomberg: McCain Struggles to Rekindle New Hampshire Independents' Ardor 

ROMNEY LEAVES OUT SOME DETAILS OF MA HEALTHCARE PLAN: On the presidential campaign trail, Mitt Romney points to healthcare reform as his major achievement as Massachusetts governor, presenting the plan as an example of how he used conservative principles to provide affordable health insurance for all state residents without a government takeover. But he does not mention aspects of the plan that may hold less appeal for his Republican audiences. For example, he decries "socialized medicine" and says the Massachusetts plan is "all a private initiative, a private-based, market-based healthcare" - omitting the fact that the state and federal governments subsidize much of the overall cost and that a public board negotiated the benefits and prices that private insurers now offer. Boston Globe: Romney's rhetoric glosses Mass. Years 

RIVALS JUMP ON CLINTON'S "SURGE" REMARKS: White House hopeful Hillary Clinton is taking heat Tuesday from some of her Democratic rivals over recent comments suggesting the president's surge policy in Iraq is "working." The remarks came during an address to the Veterans of Foreign Wars convention Monday, in which the New York Democrat said the president's Iraq policy was leading to success in "some areas." "We've begun to change tactics in Iraq, and in some areas, particularly in Al Anbar province, it's working," she said. "We're just years too late in changing our tactics." The Ticker: Rivals criticize Clinton for Iraq praise 

IRAQ A "COMPLETE FAILURE," SAYS OBAMA AT VFW: Senator Barack Obama said Tuesday that even if the military escalation in Iraq was showing limited signs of progress, efforts to stabilize the country had been a "complete failure" and American troops should not be entangled in the sectarian strife. "No military surge, no matter how brilliantly performed, can succeed without political reconciliation and a surge of diplomacy in Iraq and the region," Mr. Obama said. "Iraq's leaders are not reconciling. They are not achieving political benchmarks." New York Times: Obama Sees a 'Complete Failure' in Iraq 

MURPHY'S OBAMA ENDORSEMENT CALLED "A BLOW" TO CLINTON: The only combat veteran from the war in Iraq serving in Congress endorsed Barack Obama yesterday, a major coup for the Illinois senator as he seeks to persuade voters he's best equipped to be the next commander in chief. Rep. Patrick Murphy (D-Pa.), who served as a paratrooper with the 82nd Airborne Division in Baghdad in 2003-'04, said Obama is "absolutely our best chance to change the direction of our country."... The endorsement is a blow to Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.), who has worked with Murphy on a variety of issues. New York Daily News: Iraq war vet in Congress backs Obama over Hil 

OBAMA DENIES REFERENCE TO HILLARY IN WIFE'S SPEECH: Barack Obama said his sharp-tongued wife, Michelle, was not aiming at Hillary Clinton when she recently declared, "If you can't run your own house, you can't run the White House." Obama's wife started including the line in her stump speech last week when she said it at a Chicago women's event. "No, she wasn't making any reference to that," Barack Obama told reporters yesterday when questioned about whether it was aimed at Clinton. He said her line was about "making sure that we are talking the talk but also walking the walk" about family values. "That's all it was referring to." New York Post: WIFE NOT DISSING HILL: OBAMA 

WILL CUBA STANCE HELP OR HURT OBAMA IN FL? Barack Obama's desire to ease U.S.-Cuba travel restrictions stands in contrast to the stances of Democratic presidential rival Hillary Rodham Clinton and most of the Republican contenders. The question is whether his position will help him in Florida. Cuban-Americans make up a small but growing number of Democrats in this swing state, but most are still either Republicans or independents, meaning they will have little say in the party's Jan. 29 primary. AP via Yahoo! News: Obama's Cuba stand breaks rank 

MICHELLE OBAMA... "NOT YOUR MOTHER'S POLITICAL SPOUSE": Michelle LaVaughn Robinson Obama, 43, is not your mother's political spouse. She is 5-feet-11 in her stocking feet, earned more than $300,000 last year - husband's paycheck not included - has two Ivy League degrees and was just named to Vanity Fair's 68th annual international best-dressed list. But on the campaign trail, she has carved out a niche connecting with women over shared daily struggles: to get the kids up, their hair brushed, their lunch packed and out the door; to have a job and a family and not go crazy; to hope for better things for their daughters when they grow up and are off on their own. Los Angeles Times: It's all about priorities for Michelle Obama

BRUNO ADVISER ACCUSED OF THREATENING CALL TO GOV'S DAD: A top political adviser to state Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno is being accused of making a bizarre and threatening phone call to Gov. Spitzer's elderly father, it was learned yesterday. The startling allegation against nationally known Republican consultant Roger Stone was outlined in letters from a lawyer for 83-year-old Bernard Spitzer. Stone is accused of raging against the governor as a "phony, psycho, piece of s- – -." New York Post: PSYCHO RANT AT GOV DAD 

Filed under: AM Political Ticker