PHILADELPHIA (CNN) – One thing Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama gained from Senator Mitt Romney’s slip last week of Obama for Osama bin Laden was a Halloween costume – a Romney mask.
“I am thinking about wearing a Mitt Romney mask, but it has two sides to it. It goes in both directions at once,” joked Obama as the concluding response during the Democratic presidential debate Tuesday night.
“I don’t pay much attention to what Mitt Romney has to say, at least what he says this week. It may be different next week” said Obama earlier in the debate, hinting that he not only switches names but also positions.
“There is no doubt that my background is not typical of a presidential candidate. I think everybody understands that, but that is what is so powerful about America,” said Obama. He also stressed his confidence in the American people.
- CNN Political Desk Editor Marissa Muller
PHILADELPHIA (CNN) – The future of troops in Iraq, and the future of a potential U.S. showdown with Iran dominated much of Tuesday’s Democratic presidential debate - with frontrunner Hillary Clinton’s votes at the center.
Even with Iran a growing issue on the campaign trail in recent weeks, one of the night’s sharper exchanges focused on how to proceed in Iraq.
Clinton and challenger John Edwards clashed over the next step for U.S. troops and their role.
Edwards argued, “If you believe that combat missions should be continued in Iraq over the long term, if you believe that combat troops should remain stationed in Iraq, and if you believe there should be no actual timetable for withdrawal, then Senator Clinton is your candidate.
"I don't. I think that we need to end combat missions; we need to get combat troops out of Iraq. As president of the United States, I will do that. I think it's a requirement of leadership, as president. And I will do it in my first year in office: combat missions ended, combat troops out of Iraq, period."
Clinton claimed Edwards misstated her position, saying any combat role would only in pursuit of terrorists. “My understanding is that we had the same agreement - most of us on this stage - that we would bring out combat troops but we would pursue a mission against al Qaeda in Iraq if they remained a threat. Now, I don't know how you pursue al Qaeda without engaging them in combat. So I think we're having a semantic difference here. I think we should get as many of the combat troops out as quickly as possible.”
Barack Obama's campaign brought a high school marching band to file primary papers in South Carolina.
COLUMBIA, South Carolina (CNN) - The campaigns of senators Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama filed papers to get on the South Carolina Democratic presidential primary ballot Tuesday, leaving Sen. Joe Biden and Rep. Dennis Kucinich as the only remaining announced candidates to file papers with the state party.
A group of Clinton's in-state supporters filed papers on behalf of the campaign this morning, which included the $2,500 required to file before the Nov. 1 deadline.
In the afternoon, the Obama campaign sent their supporters to file papers, bringing with them a high school marching band on a school bus, a step team, a DJ, and Gospel choir.
The campaigns of former Sen. John Edwards, Gov. Bill Richardson, Sen. Chris Dodd and former Sen. Mike Gravel have already filed. South Carolina Democratic Party Chairwoman Carol Fowler said she expected Biden to file tomorrow.
Comedy Central's Stephen Colbert has not filed.
The state Democratic party's executive council will meet Thursday to decide which candidates will be on the primary ballot. The South Carolina Democratic primary is scheduled for Jan. 26.
- CNN South Carolina Producer Peter Hamby
Mukasey says he personally finds waterboarding 'repugnant.'
WASHINGTON (CNN) - President Bush's pick for attorney general, Judge Michael Mukasey, called the interrogation technique known as "waterboarding" a "repugnant" practice Tuesday, but again refused to say whether it violates U.S. laws banning torture.
As he did in his Oct. 18 confirmation hearing, Mukasey told Senate Judiciary Committee members that he has not received classified briefings on what techniques American interrogators are allowed to use and cannot make a legal judgment.
WASHINGTON (CNN) – Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee answered some of his conservative critics in an interview in the Situation Room Tuesday. “Why are they coming after you like this?,” Wolf Blitzer asked, referring to a conservative group’s recent attack on Huckabee’s tax record as governor of Arkansas. “Because I’m a threat to some folks who really want an old-fashioned, establishment Republican that can be controlled by a handful of people on Wall Street,” Huckabee responded “and you know Wolf, I can’t.”
Huckabee also discussed his record regarding illegal immigrants while Arkansas’s governor and Rudy Giuliani’s views on abortion. Watch the interview.
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- CNN Associate Producer Martina Stewart
NEW YORK (CNN) - A confidante of President Bush is backing Rudy Giuliani for president, the former New York City mayor's campaign announced Tuesday.
Joe Allbaugh headed the Federal Emergency Management Agency under Bush and served as his chief of staff when he was the Texas governor and as campaign manager of the 2000 Bush-Cheney presidential campaign. Allbaugh will serve as a senior advisor to Giuliani.
- CNN Producer Shirley Zilberstein
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Now that the Nevada Democratic caucus is set to take place on January 19, the state's Democratic Party is putting in place a program to teach rural high school students the art of caucusing.
The party has been coordinating with several school districts to form a "non partisan curriculum" guiding high school seniors through the basics of what can be a confusing process.
While the majority of high school seniors are under 18, the Democratic Party notes 17 year-olds are allowed to participate in the caucus if they will turn 18 by Election Day, November 4, 2008.
Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, and South Carolina are the only four states sanctioned by the Democratic National Committee to hold their presidential nominating contests in January.
- CNN Ticker Producer Alexander Mooney
Clinton is likely to be in the center of fire at tonight's debate.
While the senator from New York is far ahead of her rivals in all the national polls, there are expectations that Obama, D-Illinois, and former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards will step up their attacks on Clinton in tonight’s debate.
“Obama has raised the expectations for the debate, and that may not altogether be a good thing,” says CNN Senior Political Analyst Gloria Borger, adding that “he has signaled very strongly that he intends to be sharper in his criticism of Hillary Clinton, so all eyes will be on him."
The question is whether he can execute it well enough to keep Clinton from complaining that he’s "gone negative"—a notion, she says, that would "undermine the ‘hopeful’ politics of his campaign.”
But in what’s known as a pre-buttal, Clinton Campaign chief strategist Mark Penn said in an e-mail to reporters that “considering that both Sens. Obama and Edwards made their names by pledging to be positive, the last thing one would have expected was for either of them to go out and announce with pride that they were now going to go negative on a fellow Democrat.”
The Obama campaign quickly responded, with chief strategist David Axelrod telling Borger that “it’s the height of disingenuousness, for these people, who a run hardened political machine, to turn around and profess that any legitimate exchange is out of bounds.”
- CNN Deputy Political Director Paul Steinhauser
WASHINGTON (CNN) - A new poll shows Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-New York, and former Gov. Mitt Romney, R-Massachusetts in the lead in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina.
The poll by the American Research Group shows former Gov. Mike Huckabee, R-Arkansas, moving up to second place behind Romney in Iowa and making some ground in South Carolina and New Hampshire.
On the Democratic side, Sen. Clinton maintains her front runner status in all three states.
Iowa NH SC Romney 27% 30% 29% Giuliani 16% 23% 23% McCain 14% 17% 13% Huckabee 19% 7% 5% Thompson 8% 5% 10%
Iowa NH SC Clinton 32% 40% 41% Obama 22% 22% 19% Edwards 15% 10% 18% Richardson 7% 5% 1% Biden 5% 4% 6%
Sample Size: 600 likely voters Sample Dates: Oct. 26-29, 2007 Margin of error: +/-4%
- CNN Political Producer Xuan Thai
NEW YORK, New York (CNN) – Arizona Sen. John McCain said Monday he supported economic sanctions against Iran, a no-negotiations policy with anti-Israeli militant groups, and endorsed free-trade in a speech to a group of American Jewish leaders.
McCain, who is seeking the Republican presidential nomination, also told attendants at the American Jewish Organizations Conference that the decrease in the number of American deaths in Iraq can be attributed directly to the “surge,” of U.S. troops sent in to that country by President Bush.
“I can look you in the eye today and say that it is succeeding,” McCain said.
The Arizona senator acknowledged that some Americans view the GOP with skepticism, because a handful of its federal lawmakers have been convicted of abusing their positions for personal gain.
“Republicans obviously have very low approval ratings throughout the country because largely, in my view, because of our spending practices, which have led to corruption and I don't use that word lightly,” he said. “I say corruption because there are former members of Congress now residing in federal prison.”
But McCain also pointed out that the GOP is the party of American legends including President Abraham Lincoln, President Theodore Roosevelt and President Ronald Reagan. And he said that the GOP is “an inclusionary party not an exclusionary party,” that promotes “less government, less regulations, strong national defense, lower taxes, more individual freedom.”
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- CNN’s Laura Winter