McCain said Wednesday the Iraq surge is leading to success.
WASHINGTON (CNN) – White House hopeful John McCain said Wednesday he believes the surge in Iraq is working, and thinks that if the situation in Iraq continues to improve, so will Americans’ attitudes about the war.
“The situation has dramatically improved,” said McCain during a press availability on Wednesday. “If we can see the same progress in the next 7 or 8 months I think most Americans would be satisfied.”
The Arizona senator is seeking the Republican presidential nomination.
However, he added that the Iraqi government still has work to do in order to progress.
“I believe that the (Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki) government understands that they have to make some progress,” he said. “And I have done everything I can to urge them to do so.”
McCain is a vocal supporter of the Iraq war and the decision to increase the number of U.S. troops in the country..
- CNN Political Producer Xuan Thai
Clinton is highlighting the fact she was under attack at Tuesday's debate.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - New York Sen. Hillary Clinton released a new Web video Wednesday slamming her rivals for Democratic presidential nomination accusing them of participating in "politics of pile-on" following the latest Democratic National Committee debate.
"I seemed to be the topic of great conversation and consternation," she said in the video. "And that's for a reason."
The video starts with a montage of the six other Democratic hopefuls saying Clinton's name repeatedly during a debate on Tuesday night. The candidates went after her for her initial vote to authorize the war in Iraq and a recent decision to label Iran's Revolutionary Guard a terrorist organization.
In a press release, Clinton's campaign said Illinois Sen. Barack Obama and former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards "undermined the central premises of their own candidacies" and said their tactics show that they are "desperate to gain traction in the polls."
–CNN Associate Producer Lauren Kornreich
PHILADELPHIA (CNN) - So if there are space aliens, can they register to vote?
Perhaps Democratic presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich is courting their support, discussing a UFO sighting in Tuesday night’s debate.
He confirmed an account in actress Shirley MacLaine’s book that he saw a UFO at her home in Washington state. Though he didn’t address the rest of her description, that the Ohio congressman “felt a connection in his heart and heard directions in his mind.”
Kucinich said to moderator Tim Russert’s question, “It was an unidentified flying object, OK? It's, like, it's unidentified. I saw something.”
To laughter, he added, “I'm also going to move my campaign office to Roswell, New Mexico, and other one in Exeter, New Hampshire, OK? And also, you have to keep in mind that more - that Jimmy Carter saw a UFO and also that more people in this country have seen UFOs than I think approve of George Bush's presidency.”
Rival candidate Barack Obama, asked if he believes in life on other planets, responded, “You know, I don't know. And I don't presume to know. What I know is there is life here on Earth, and that we're not attending to life here on Earth.”
“We're not taking care of kids who are alive and unfortunately are not getting health care," Obama continued. "We're not taking care of senior citizens who are alive and are seeing their heating prices go up. So, as president, those are the people I will be attending to first."
"There may be some other folks on their way," he added.
The Democratic presidential candidates next square off November 15 at CNN's debate in Las Vegas.
- CNN Political Desk Managing Editor Steve Brusk
Colbert's presidential bid is no joke.
COLUMBIA, South Carolina (CNN) - Funnyman Stephen Colbert's presidential campaign is apparently no joke.
The host of Comedy Central's "The Colbert Report" will file papers late Wednesday or early Thursday to put his name on South Carolina's Democratic primary ballot, a source familiar with the comedian's strategy said.
The South Carolina native will not file papers as a Republican because the $35,000 required to get on the GOP ballot is apparently too high a threshold.
"They priced us out of range," the source told CNN.
- CNN South Carolina Producer Peter Hamby
Clinton scored a big endorsement Wednesday.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton received the endorsement of the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees Wednesday.
The union’s endorsement was one of the most sought after by Democratic presidential hopefuls, and with another influential union - the Service Employees International Union - refraining from granting a national endorsement, AFSCME’s nod becomes an even greater prize.
Donning a pair of red boxing gloves while accepting the endorsement, the senator from New York told the audience, "when it comes to fighting for America's families, I'll go 10 rounds with anybody."
AFSCME President Gerald McEntee told the audience that "this is no time to take chances. We need someone who knows how to fight and indeed knows how to win."
"Sen. Clinton is a season fighter," continued McEntee. "Believe me, she knows how to fight and she knows how to win."
AFSCME has a membership of 1.4 million people and provides the Democratic frontruner with another major union endorsement. Clinton has already received the backing of the American Federation of Teachers, International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, and Allied Craftworkers, and the United Transportation Union, among others.
Union endorsements play an important role in presidential campaigns, often leading to an infusion of support for the campaigns - especially in the form of ground troops to help get out the vote efforts.
But union endorsements don't necessarily lead to victory on Election Day. AFSCME and SEIU both endorsed then-Democratic presidential candidate Howard Dean for president in 2004. Two months later, after defeats in Iowa and New Hampshire, and poor showings in several other states, Dean dropped out of the race for the White House.
- CNN’s Xuan Thai and Paul Steinhauser
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee were seeing double on Wednesday morning.
To celebrate Halloween, Sen. Chuck Hagel, R-Nebraska, dressed up as his colleague and friend Sen. Joe Biden, D-Delaware - decked out in a Biden mask and a "Biden for President" t-shirt. As he approached Biden's seat, he raised his arms and said, "Happy Halloween, Biden for President."
"I'll tell you what, Hagel for Vice President," Biden responded with a smile.
Hagel, who has a tradition of wearing costumes to work on Halloween, has previously dressed up as Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, former Secretary of State Colin Powell and Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kansas, according to his Senate office.
- CNN Associate Producer Lauren Kornreich
Hughes is a longtime Bush adviser.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Long-time Bush adviser Karen Hughes will leave her post as undersecretary of state at the State Department in mid-December, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice announced Wednesday.
Hughes served as undersecretary for public diplomacy and public affairs since her appointment to the post in March 2005, and was charged with running the State Department's campaign to "win the hearts and minds of the Muslim world."
In September of that year, Hughes traveled throughout the Middle East as part of what she dubbed a "listening tour" to repair America's image among Muslims. But it was a tough sell, and many Arabs criticized her for what they called her lack of understanding of the region.
- CNN's Elise Labott and Charley Keyes contributed to this report
COLUMBIA, South Carolina (CNN) - Here's a quick look at what's making political news in South Carolina this Wednesday morning:
Sen. John McCain is out with a new piece of direct mail that takes on former New York city mayor Rudy Giuliani, saying that McCain is the only candidate who can beat Sen. Hillary Clinton in the general election.
The State just about sums up this coming weekend with this header: "72 hours, 6 presidential candidates, 19 appearances." McCain, John Edwards, Barack Obama, Joe Biden, Ron Paul and Mike Huckabee will all campaign in South Carolina starting Thursday.
The Obama and Clinton camps filed papers on Tuesday to be on the Democratic primary ballot. The New York Times has a photo of the Obama campaign's parade to Democratic party headquarters. All but two Democrats are on the ballot here. The deadline is Thursday.
Using the headline "Lowcountry: Dirtier! Nastier! Slimier! South Carolina '08," The New Republic argues that the South Carolina race has already taken a negative turn.
The Mitt Romney campaign announced today that Sen. Jim DeMint, who has already endorsed Romney, will be one of the campaign's three national co-chairs, all of which are from crucial states. DeMint will be a co-chair along with Judd Gregg of New Hampshire and Gov. Matt Blunt of Missouri.
DeMint put out this statement through the Romney campaign: "Governor Mitt Romney is the standard-bearer the Republican Party needs in 2008. His message of conservative change will bring our Party and Washington back to our most basic conservative values of fiscal discipline, smaller government and lower taxes. Governor Romney has the record and experience to bring true change to Washington."
After President Bush yesterday said "Congress is not getting its work done," South Carolina GOP chairman Katon Dawson put out this statement in agreement: "When Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, Jim Clyburn, John Spratt and the Washington Democrats took control of Congress in January, they assured the American people they were 'ready to lead.' But just 10 months later, their empty rhetoric of reform has resulted in a regrettable record of failure.
"Democrat inaction has left our troops without the resources they need to win the war on terror, and our children have been left without the tools they need to grow up healthy in safe homes and schools. Clearly, the Democrats were never 'ready to lead,' and there’s no doubt that the Democrats' abysmal record of failure will result in buyers' remorse for American voters in 2008," Dawson said.
- CNN South Carolina Producer Peter Hamby