September 9th, 2007
08:07 PM ET
13 years ago

Dean blasts GOP candidates for skipping forum

Dean criticized GOP candidates for not appearing on a candidate forum on a spanish language network.

(CNN)–On the evening the Democratic presidential candidates appeared in a candidate forum on a Spanish language network, Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean blasted the GOP candidates for not doing the same.

"Every Democratic candidate, through their participation at tonight's forum," the former Vermont governor said, "made it clear that the Democratic Party is the party that welcomes Hispanics and that shares their values."

"The refusal of Republican candidates to address the Hispanic community not just at this forum but in national Hispanic gatherings in recent months, speaks volumes," Dean continued in a statement released Sunday night. "Sadly it is consistent with the Republican Party's strategy to scapegoat Hispanic immigrants for political gain."

Most of the Democratic candidates appeared Sunday night on the campus of the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Florida, for a candidate forum on the Spanish language network Univision.

A similar forum with the GOP Presidential candidates was supposed to take place next Sunday night. But only one of the Republican candidates, Senator John McCain of Arizona, accepted the invitation. That forum has been cancelled, although Univision hopes it can reschedule with the Republican candidates.

- CNN Political Desk Editor Jamie Crawford

September 9th, 2007
12:03 PM ET
13 years ago

Huckabee: 'I'd be worried' about Romney spending

Huckabee took on Romney's spending habits Sunday.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee took on fellow Republican candidate Mitt Romney's spending habits Sunday on CNN's Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer. The former Arkansas governor said: "I would be worried if I were a voter if a person is spending millions and millions of dollars to barely be in double digits. I'd be beginning to think I don't want that person in charge of the Federal Treasury."

Huckabee was responding to comments Romney gave Friday in an interview with the Associated Press: "If Huckabee raises $20 million this quarter, like we did in the first quarter, then he'll become a front-tier candidate."

Huckabee doesn't think that degree of funding is necessary. He told Wolf Blitzer, "I appreciate his budget advice but we're not spending money like he is. We don't have to raise it, and we're getting where we're going by being frugal just like I would want to be with the Federal Treasury."

- CNN Associate Producer Jennifer Burch

Filed under: Mike Huckabee • Mitt Romney • Race to '08
September 9th, 2007
12:01 PM ET
13 years ago

Specter urges Craig to stay and fight

Sen. Larry Craig, R-Idaho.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - Sen. Arlen Specter on Sunday likened Sen. Larry Craig's guilty plea to a misdemeanor charge of disorderly conduct in a Minneapolis airport men's room to a motorist paying an undeserved parking ticket and reiterated his contention that the Idaho Republican should stay in the Senate and fight to overturn his conviction.

"Frequently, you get a parking ticket and the meter is broken, but you enter a guilty plea, you sign off, you pay a small check and not to fight it," Specter told CNN's "Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer."

"He thought that this matter would not be publicly disclosed, and that was very foolish," Specter said. "Now look here, you have 27 years in the Congress, you have his reputation, you have his whole life on the line. I think he's entitled to his day in court. Maybe he will be convicted, but I doubt it."

Under Minnesota law, a guilty plea may be withdrawn "if there is manifest injustice, and that is defined that a plea can be withdrawn if it was not intelligently made," Specter said. "And what Senator Craig did was by no means intelligent."

The 62-year-old legislator pleaded guilty last month to disorderly conduct after his June arrest for allegedly making sexual advances to an undercover police officer in a bathroom at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport.

He has said he paid a $500 fine by mail to settle the case without consulting an attorney or even telling his own family because he wanted the matter "to go away."


Filed under: Senate
September 9th, 2007
11:58 AM ET
13 years ago

Battle for Latino Voters

McCain was the only GOP candidate to accept an invitation for a Republican debate on Univision.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - The Democratic presidential candidates face off tonight in Miami, and that could be bad news for the Republicans. The Democratic White House hopefuls are taking part in a Spanish language presidential forum at the University of Miami which is expected to focus on Hispanic and Latino issues. The forum is being sponsored and will air on Univision, the largest Spanish language television network in the U.S.

A similar forum with the GOP Presidential candidates was supposed to take place next Sunday night. But only one of the Republican candidates, Senator John McCain of Arizona, accepted the invitation. That forum has been cancelled, although Univision hopes it can reschedule with the Republican candidates.

Most of the GOP Presidential hopefuls also skipped two other major Hispanic and Latino conferences, The National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials and the National Council of La Raza. Most of the Democratic White House hopefuls showed up at those two events.

Hispanics are one of the nation’s largest minority and the fastest growing minority as well. And they play a larger and larger role in American politics with each election.

President Bush made major gains with such voters from his first election in 2000 to his re-election in 2004. But those gains were erased in last year’s midterms. The reason appears to be the Republican Party’s image as anti-immigration.

“According to the exit polls, immigration was more important to Latino voters in 2006 than to voters of any other race, and 70% of the Latinos who cared about immigration voted Democratic. If both of those trends hold up in 2008, that could be very bad news for the Republicans,” says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland.

A bill that would have given some illegal immigrants here in the United States a pathway to citizenship went down in flames earlier this summer. All four Democratic senators running for President voted for the bill. Other Democratic White House candidates, such as New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson, who’s hoping to become the nation’s first Latino President, opposed the bill because it would have divided families trying to come to the U.S.

But other than McCain, just about all of the GOP Presidential contenders were dead set against the immigration reform plan. And while that’s music to conservatives, it could hurt Republican chances of keeping control of the White House.

- CNN Deputy Political Director Paul Steinhauser

September 9th, 2007
11:53 AM ET
13 years ago

Questions on Petraeus credibility before report

Petraeus is to deliver a report on the progress of the troop 'surge' in Iraq this week.

(CNN)–With the long awaited Iraq progress report set to be delivered this week to Congress by General David Petraeus, and Ambassador Ryan Crocker, the Sunday morning political talk shows were full of debate about what the report may ultimately say.

On Monday, the liberal advocacy group, is set to publish an ad in the New York Times that claims Petraeus is not giving an objective, independent view of the situation on the ground. The ad says 'General Petraeus or General Betray us? Cooking the books for the White House."

On ABC's 'This Week,' moderator George Stephanopoulos, asked GOP presidential hopeful John McCain what he thought about the attacks on Petraeus' credibility. "I know this man, and many people know this general. He's not going to allow politicization of the dedication and service that not only he is providing, but the brave young men and women under his command."

"He served his country with honor and distinction," the Senator from Arizona said, "and if we have to sink to that level to besmirch the reputation of a very fine and wonderful American, then I lament the level of dialogue. I hope that my Democrat friends will not be guided by"

Over on 'Fox News Sunday,' moderator Chris Wallace asked Senator Dianne Feinstein about recent attacks on Petraeus' credibility. "Well, I don't think General Petraeus has an independent view in that sense," the Democrat from California said. "General Petraeus is there to succeed. He may say the progress is uneven. He may say it's substantial."

"I don't know what he will say," Feinstein said. "You can be sure we'll listen to it. But I don't think he's an independent evaluator."

Petraeus, the top American military commander in Iraq, will deliver a progress report, written by the White House, to Congress this week. Ryan Crocker, the U.S. ambassador, will deliver his assessment on political progress there.

- CNN Political Desk Editor Jamie Crawford

Filed under: Congress • Iraq • John McCain •
September 9th, 2007
10:12 AM ET
13 years ago

Tough fight getting tougher

Hagel's retirement may make GOP task of taking back Senate even tougher.

WASHINGTON (CNN)- First John Warner. Now Chuck Hagel. Two moves by two Republican Senators that they’re going to retire after next year rather than run for re-election makes the GOP’s tough task of trying to take back the Senate in the 2008 election even tougher.

A source close to Hagel told CNN Saturday that the Republican Senator from Nebraska will leave the Senate when his term ends in January 2009. Hagel, who is a vocal critic of the Bush Administration on the Iraq War, will make his future plans official when he holds a news conference in Omaha Monday.

Nebraska’s a red state. President Bush handily won re-election there in 2004. But an unpopular war and an unpopular President could give the Democrats hope next year even in Nebraska. The state does have a Democratic Senator, Ben Nelson, and a former Senator and Democrat, Bob Kerrey, may be interested in running if Hagel makes it official Monday that he’s retiring.

National Republicans are hoping that former Nebraska Governor and current Bush Administration Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns will jump into the race. A Kerrey – Johanns race would be a bruiser. But Johanns may not have the Republican field to himself if he decides to run. Hagel’s criticism of the war prompted Nebraska Attorney General Jon Bruning to mount a primary challenge to Hagel, and there are no guarantees Bruning would step aside for Johanns.

In Virginia, the 80 year old Warner announced over a week ago that he won’t run for re-election. Democrats have won three major state wide elections in Virginia this decade, and if Former Governor Mark Warner, no relation to the Senator, decides put his hat into the ring, Democrats hope they can grab the seat away from the GOP.


Filed under: Senate
September 9th, 2007
08:45 AM ET
13 years ago

Edwards takes Clinton to task on special interests

Edwards was critical of Clinton's involvement with lobbyists and special interest groups.

NASHUA, N.H. (CNN) - Former Senator John Edwards blamed lobbyist, corporate insiders and special interest groups, Saturday, for preventing change in America and discussed why his stance on these groups—and his ideas for revamping the political system– conflict with presidential hopeful, Senator Hillary Clinton.

“Look, Senator Clinton is right. You can’t pretend the system doesn’t exist, but you also can’t pretend that it works. And this is where she and I part company because I believe that if you defend the system that defeats change, you can’t be the President who will actually bring change, “ the Democrat from North Carolina added, “When it comes to the Washington influence game, we need to end it, not defend it.”

Speaking before hundreds of cheering union members, the Senator, sporting a pair of jeans and a blue blazer, received the official endorsement from the United Brotherhood of Carpenters for President of the United States. In front of the boisterous crowd, Edwards continued after his opponent.

“She says you bring change by working within the system established by the Constitution. I think the system has been corrupted by corporate powers never contemplated by the Constitution. This is not the government of, by and for the people that our founding fathers intended. There is no principled compromise between the ways things have always been and the way things can be.”

“In the America I believe in, we don’t compromise on our principles, we fight for them with every single thing that we got,” Edwards said.

- CNN New Hampshire Producer Sareena Dalla

Filed under: Hillary Clinton • John Edwards • New Hampshire • Race to '08
September 9th, 2007
08:18 AM ET
13 years ago

Richardson: U.S. should leave Iraq now

Richardson said the U.S. should begin withdrawing from Iraq.

(CNN)–New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson says United States troops need to begin leaving Iraq immediately.

Writing in an Op-Ed that appeared in the Washington Post Saturday, Richardson drew a sharp contrast between his position, and that of some of his fellow rivals for the Democratic presidential nomination.

"Clinton, Obama and Edwards reflect the inside-the Beltway thinking that a complete withdrawal of all American forces somehow would be 'irresponsible'," he said. "On the contrary, the facts suggest that a rapid, complete withdrawal - not a drawn out, Vietnam-like process - would be the most responsible and effective course of action."

"The American people need answers," he said. "If we elect a president who thinks that troops should stay in Iraq for years, they will stay for years–a tragic mistake."

Richardson, a former United States ambassador to the United Nations, said continued American military presence, would delay any political reconciliation among Iraqi factions.

"The presence of American forces in Iraq weakens us in the war against al-Qaeda," he went on to say. "It endows the anti-American propaganda of those who portray us as occupiers plundering Iraq's oil and repressing Muslims. The day we leave, this myth collapses, and the Iraqis will drive foreign jihadists out of their country."

Richardson wrote that it was logistically possible to withdraw from Iraq in six to eight months. "After the Persian Gulf War, we re-deployed nearly a half a million troops in a few months," he said. Some of his rivals for the nomination have said in previous debates that a withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq would be a timely enterprise. Delaware Senator Joe Biden said it would take one year logistically to get all U.S. troops out.

Richardson also proposed regional security negotiations among all of Iraq's neighbors, and donations from wealthy nations in order to help rebuild Iraq.

Richardson is scheduled to appear in a debate with the other Democratic candidates in Miami Sunday, for a debate sponsored by the Univision network.

- CNN Political Desk Editor Jamie Crawford