The Republican presidential candidates took the stage in New Hampshire on Wednesday.
DURHAM, New Hampshire (CNN) - Supporters of Texas Rep. Ron Paul were out in force Wednesday, as eight GOP candidates took the stage for the second presidential debate in this important primary state.
While some people chanted "Ron Paul, Ron Paul" others waved signs that read, "New Hampshire Says Live Free with Ron Paul or Die." In the air, a visible Ron Paul banner circles the University of New Hampshire's Whittemore Center, the site of the debate.
One Paul supporter, Paul Palazzolo, a 22 year old graduate degree student at UNH, has made every effort to promote Paul throughout a campus with 16,000 undergraduates.
"Last night, my friend and I chalked the entire campus with Ron Paul's name for three and half hours. " Palazzolo said with enthusiasm.
His friend, Stephen Campbell, does not even attend UNH. Campbell is currently a student at UCLA and plans to bring Paul to campus when he starts in a month.
"Ron Paul never flip flops, never works with lobbyists," Campbell said. "He's about principles and that's what we need."
Meanwhile, a smaller group of Rudy Giuliani supporters, held signs to show support for the former New York City mayor.
In addition to the political supporters, advocacy groups sought to bring attention to their individual causes.
Around the building, police remain tight lipped on security, Lt. Sean Kelly,of the Durham Police Department, who has been to many primary events, tells CNN that the University police department is the lead agency on security tonight, but state and local authorities are also present.
Is this crowd anything out of the ordinary?
"This campaign crowd size is very typical," Kelly said. "They are always enthusiastic and we are always interested in letting them do it."
- CNN New Hampshire Producer Sareena K. Dalla
DURHAM, New Hampshire (CNN) - Even a duck is angry that Fred Thompson is skipping Wednesday night's Republican debate.
A man in a duck suit protested Thompson's decision not to participate in the debate in New Hampshire. Standing in between Mitt Romney and Ron Paul supporters, the duck showed off his resentment.
On the front, a sign on his suit read, "Fred, why are you ducking the debate?" On the back, it read, "Quacks should stay in Hollywood."
The duck would not say who he is planning to support.
- CNN's Sasha Johnson and Lauren Kornreich
Thompson made his announcement Wednesday on "The Tonight Show.
WASHINGTON (CNN) – Former Sen. Fred Thompson declared he is running for president Wednesday, joining eight other Republicans seeking the GOP nomination.
Thompson made the announcement during an interview on "The Tonight Show" that was scheduled to air on NBC later in the night. The former Tennessee senator's declaration came less than an hour before his rivals were set to appear in a Republican debate that is being nationally televised on FOX. The debate is taking place in New Hampshire, a key early state in the presidential nominating process.
- CNN Political Editor Mark Preston
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Embattled Sen. Larry Craig was one of Bill Clinton's fiercest critics during the Senate’s 1999 impeachment trial, but the former president told CNN's Larry King Wednesday he takes no pleasure in the Idaho Republican's current situation and is "pulling" for Craig and his family.
"Honestly, didn't feel any great joy," Clinton said in an interview to air tonight at 9 p.m. ET. "When it was going on I knew that a lot of them were outed for hypocrisy before this."
Clinton added, "One of the things I did to get through that was to think hard about times in my past when I had judged people too harshly because they had a problem I didn't have. And I promised myself I'd never do that again, and I'm trying to keep that promise."
Craig was arrested in a restroom in June at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport on suspicion of making sexual advances to an undercover police officer in the next stall. He pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct in August, but denies he was engaging in lewd behavior. Clinton offered a sympathetic perspective on the situation.
"I just know right now he and his family have got to be hurting and I think the rest of us should just be pulling for their personal lives and the politics of this will play itself out," he added.
Asked what he makes of people who criticize activities they do themselves, the former president said, " I think maybe it's subconscious self hatred, I don't know, maybe it’s a desire to avoid being caught, maybe its just a desire to deal with what they perceive to be the social and political realities they find themselves in."
In the wide ranging interview, Clinton also weighed in on why his wife, Sen. Hillary Clinton, has relatively high unfavorability ratings. (Related video: Watch Bill Clinton discuss his wife's presidential bid)
"It may be she's a strong woman and the first person in her gender ever to be considered a serious presidential possibility," Clinton said of his wife, who is seeking the Democratic presidential nomination. "But most of it frankly is she took a lot of hits, along with me, beginning in 1992 when we threatened what the wash Republican right wing thought was its permanent hold on the White House.
"From the day I took the oath I never got a honeymoon," he added. "They tried to undermine the legitimacy of my presidency and they took after her too."
- CNN Ticker Producer Alexander Mooney
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards called on Congress Wednesday to "be strong" and disregard President Bush's "ongoing PR offensive" to promote the war in Iraq during a conference call with the media.
"The Congress needs to force this president's hand," Edwards said. "George Bush is stubborn and he thinks he's incapable of making a mistake and he's not going to change course unless he's made to change course. He needs to be forced to change policy in Iraq."
Edwards, a former North Carolina senator, said the United States should slowly start to bring troops home to intensify pressure on the Iraqis and to force them to agree on their government. He said he isn't opposed to a three-state solution, but emphasized that the Iraqis have to decide what they want.
"The way to make it clear you're leaving is to actually start leaving," Edwards said. "In addition to that, we make it clear that we're going to continue to leave over a period of time so that they feel the heat to reach a political compromise."
–CNN Associate Producer Lauren Kornreich
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Congressional Democrats took a swipe at their political rivals Wednesday in a new Web video that highlights the personal indiscretions of GOP lawmakers, as the theme song to “Cops” television show plays in the background.
CNN obtained an early version of the video that runs a slide show of six prominent Republicans caught up in various scandals including Idaho Sen. Larry Craig, who pleaded guilty last month to a disorderly conduct charge for allegedly making sexual advances to an undercover police officer in a restroom at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport in June. It also features Louisiana Sen. David Vitter, who is linked to the D.C. Madam scandal. The other GOP officials in the video are no longer in office.
- CNN Political Editor Mark Preston
DES MOINES, Iowa (CNN) - Tucked behind the Wells Fargo Arena in this capital city Wednesday was a sneak preview of what Fred Thompson for President will look like.
CNN photojournalists Bethany Swain and Doug Schantz discovered the Thompson campaign buses that will carry the soon-to-be candidate across Iowa the next two days. The buses were emblazoned with the slogan “United by Our Core Beliefs,” and carry the words “security,” “unity”, and “prosperity.”
The buses are brown, mustard yellow and red...differentiated from the traditional red, white and blue usually seen on the rolling campaigns of many of his rivals.
Thompson’s tour starts in Des Moines after a series of local interviews, and then heads to Council Bluffs with stops in Sioux City, Mason City, Cedar Rapids and Davenport. He then travels New Hampshire, Florida and South Carolina.
- CNN Political Desk Managing Editor Steve Brusk
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Citizens Club for Growth, a so-called “527” political organization affiliated with the conservative anti-tax group “Club for Growth,” has agreed to pay a $350,000 civil penalty to settle a lawsuit filed against it by the Federal Election Commission.
The lawsuit arose after the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee filed a complaint with the FEC in 2003 alleging that the group was violating federal election laws. After an investigation, the FEC concluded that the 527 was required to register as a political action committee because it was accepting contributions and engaging in activities intended to influence the outcome of federal elections.
In a statement released on its Web site Wednesday, Citizens Club for Growth emphasized that it had acted with the good-faith belief that it was not violating federal election law when it failed to register as a PAC. The statement also emphasized that it had agreed to the settlement with the FEC in order to avoid protracted litigation costs.
“If we had proper respect for the First Amendment, such a lawsuit never would have taken off the ground to begin with,” said Chuck Pike, vice president for both the Citizens Club for Growth as well as the Club for Growth.
A separate statement released Wednesday by the Club for Growth, a 501(c)4 non-profit organization, stressed that the two groups are separate legal entities, and that settlement only affects Citizens Club for Growth and other 527s.
If approved by the federal trial court in Washington, D.C., the $350,000 settlement would be the largest civil penalty ever obtained by the FEC once an enforcement action was pursued in court, according to the FEC’s press release issued Wednesday.
- CNN Associate Producer Martina Stewart
Biden picked up an Iowa endorsement Wednesday.
DES MOINES, Iowa (CNN) - Iowa's Assistant House Majority Leader John
Whitaker on Wednesday became the seventh state legislator to back Delaware Sen. Joe Biden's presidential bid.
But in the race to woo Hawkeye State lawmakers, Sen. Hillary Clinton is winning at 16. With seven endorsements, Biden is tied with Sen. John Edwards for the number two position. Obama currently has six backers, coming in a close third.
In a statement, Whitaker said, "Joe Biden is the only Democratic candidate for president who understands the impact of this war on the families of those soldiers serving our country."
Whitaker's son is a member of the Iowa National Guard. Biden's son, Delaware Attorney General Beau Biden, is a member of the Delaware National Guard.
-CNN Iowa Producer Chris Welch
Bill Richardson campaigned across South Carolina on Wednesday.
FLORENCE, South Carolina (CNN) - At a campaign stop Wednesday at Horne's Country Buffet, Democratic presidential candidate Bill Richardson struck back at prominent liberal blogs that yesterday called Richardson a "buffoon" and claimed the New Mexico governor is "not ready for prime time."
"Bloggers can say whatever they want, but I care about the voters," Richardson told CNN.
The blogs DailyKos and MyDD.com, both influential voices in Democratic politics, blasted Richardson after he said Iowa should be the first state in the nation to hold caucuses because of, among other justifications, "reasons related to the Lord."
After that comment hit the Web, Todd Beeton at MyDD.com wrote that "Richardson has demonstrated a keen ability to stick his foot in his mouth."
Markos Moulitsas at DailyKos wrote that "Richardson is really becoming the buffoon of this campaign."
"Bloggers say a lot of things. They are an important part of the democratic process," Richardson said. "But no, I didn't put my foot in my mouth. I stand by what I said. I make no apologies about it. Iowa is important, just like South Carolina and New Hampshire."
After his stop in Florence, Richardson headed to the annual meeting of the South Carolina AFL-CIO in McCormick, where he was the only presidential candidate to speak to union members.
- CNN South Carolina Producer Peter Hamby