Kucinich, with wife Elizabeth, questioned the president's mental health.
(CNN) - Strong words from Democratic presidential contender Dennis Kucinich may be nothing new, but his comments to a newspaper Tuesday questioning President Bush’s mental health are raising a few eyebrows.
“I seriously believe we have to start asking questions about his mental health," the Ohio congressman told the Philadelphia Inquirer. "There's something wrong. He does not seem to understand his words have real impact."
Kucinich's comments were in reference to the president's recent remarks on Iran, in which he suggested World War III could occur if the country obtained nuclear capabilities.
“I've told people that, if you're interested in avoiding World War III, it seems like you ought to be interested in preventing them from having the knowledge necessary to make a nuclear weapon," Bush said at a news conference earlier this month.
The Democratic presidential candidate later said he does not consider questioning the Bush's mental health inappropriate, according the Inquirer's Web site.
“You cannot be a President of the United States who's wanton in his expression of violence," Kucinich said. "There's a lot of people who need care. He might be one of them. If there isn't something wrong with him, then there's something wrong with us. This, to me, is a very serious question."
A Republican National Committee spokesman called the comments "absurd and irresponsible."
- CNN Political Desk Managing Editor Steve Brusk
The McCain mail piece says the Arizona senator is more conservative than Rudy Giuliani.
COLUMBIA, South Carolina (CNN) - Let the Republican mail wars in South Carolina begin.
Sen. John McCain's campaign has sent out the first piece of direct mail in this state that takes direct aim at a presidential rival: in this case, former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani.
But McCain's attack is bipartisan - the mailing takes on both Giuliani and Sen. Hillary Clinton, arguing that McCain is more conservative than Giuliani, but also that McCain can win more swing states in a general election against Clinton.
The mailing, obtained by CNN, is headlined: "McCain: the only Conservative who can beat Senator Clinton." It shows McCain as a young Navy pilot and says that the Arizona senator "is a stronger candidate than Rudy Giuliani in the general election." The mail piece also challenges Giuliani on social issues, declaring that McCain has "a consistent 24-year pro-life voting record."
Sent out Monday as part of an invitation to an upcoming Town Hall in Myrtle Beach, the mailing cites recent polling that shows McCain beating Clinton in a general election match-up.
PHILADELPHIA (CNN) - The night fittingly began with a reference to "Rocky" in his fictional hometown, as the Democratic presidential debate Tuesday night at times took on the feel of a heavyweight fight.
Sen. Barack Obama, who this week said he would sharpen attacks on frontrunner Sen. Hillary Clinton, first called their differences “overhyped”. He joked, “I think this has been the most hyped fight since Rocky fought Apollo Creed, although the amazing thing is, I'm Rocky in this situation.”
Moments later, the tone changed as he launched the first of a series of candidate attacks on Clinton, claiming of the race, “I think it requires us to be honest about the challenges that we face. It does not mean, I think, changing positions whenever it's politically convenient.”
Former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards also sharpened his attacks on the New York Democrat, criticizing Clinton for her stands on Iraq, Iran and Social Security.
The Democratic presidential candidates next square off November 15 at CNN's debate in Las Vegas.
- CNN Political Desk Managing Editor Steve Brusk
Clinton's answer on driver's licenses for illegal immigrants drew fire.
PHILADEPHIA (CNN) - Democratic presidential contender, New York's Sen. Hillary Clinton said New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer's controversial plan to give driver's licenses to illegal immigrants "makes a lot of sense," but stopped short of endorsing the plan in Tuesday night's debate in Philadelphia.
At least one opponent accused her of "saying two different things in the course of about two minutes."
Asked about the proposal, Clinton said Spitzer is trying to find a solution to a bigger problem.
"We know in New York we have several million at any one time who are in New York illegally," Clinton said. "So what Gov. Spitzer is trying to do is to fill the vacuum.
"I believe we need to get back to comprehensive immigration reform because no state, no matter how well intentioned, can fill this gap. There needs to be federal action on immigration reform."
Sen. Chris Dodd disagreed on issuing licenses to illegal immigrants, calling the plan "troublesome." He said, "a license is a privilege, and that ought not to be extended, in my view."
Moments later, Clinton said, "I just want to add, I did not say that it should be done, but I certainly recognize what Gov. Spitzer is trying to do ..."
Rivals on stage jumped on her answer. Dodd told her, "No, no, no. You said, 'yes.'"
For the latest, breaking political news, check for updates throughout the day on the CNN Political Ticker http://www.cnn.com/ticker. All politics, all the time.
Making News Today…
Edwards, Obama step up criticisms of Clinton
PHILADELPHIA (CNN) – The night fittingly began with a reference to "Rocky" in his fictional hometown, as the Democratic presidential debate Tuesday night at times took on the feel of a heavyweight fight.
Read the rest of this entry>>
Check out the http://cnn.com/ticker and also scroll down in the Political Hot Topics section for more on Tuesday’s Democratic presidential debate.
A new round of union endorsements
WASHINGTON (CNN) – Former Sen. John Edwards was endorsed Tuesday by the New Hampshire arm of the Service Employees International Union, and an influential national union could announce its own endorsement Wednesday at a news conference in the nation’s capital.
The Service Employees International Union’s local chapter in New Hampshire represents 9,000 local, state and healthcare workers, and its backing gives the North Carolina Democrat a boost in the first-in-the-nation primary state.
Meanwhile, Democrats and political observers will be keeping a close eye on what the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees executive board decides at its meeting here in Washington. An endorsement by AFSCME would be a major “get” for a candidate.
AFSCME represents 1.4 million workers nationwide ranging from librarians to bus drivers, and President Gerald McEntee has vowed to spend $60 million in the 2008 race for the White House. While it is not clear how much of the $60 million AFSCME would spend in the primary, the union does represent 30,000 workers in the all important first-in-the-nation caucus state of Iowa.
- CNN’s Mark Preston and Katy Byron
Mukasey stays vague on waterboarding
WASHINGTON (CNN) – President Bush's pick for attorney general called the interrogation technique known as waterboarding a "repugnant" practice Tuesday, but again refused to say whether it violates U.S. laws banning torture.
Read the rest of this entry>>
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.
CNN is partnering with the Nevada Democratic Party for a Democratic National Committee sanctioned presidential debate on November 15. CNN’s Wolf Blitzer will moderate the event that will take place in Las Vegas.
Read the rest of this entry>>
- CNN Ticker Producer Alexander Mooney
'08ers to ‘trick or treat’
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Even in the heat of campaign season, some presidential hopefuls are taking a break from the trail to celebrate Halloween with their children.
Former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards, who has spent the week in New Hampshire with his family, will take nine-year-old Emma and seven-year-old Jack out trick-or-treating in Bedford. Emma is dressing up as a fifties girl, while Jack will be the Spartan King Leonitus, the campaign said.
Illinois Sen. Barack Obama will also go door-to-door collecting candy with his daughters in Chicago.
- CNN Associate Producer Lauren Kornreich
The Best Political Team wants you
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Political Hot Topics
(Today's top political stories from news organizations across the country)
Compiled by Lauren Kornreich
CNN Washington Bureau
KUCINICH DISCUSSES ALIEN ENCOUNTER: 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. CNN Political Ticker: Kucinich: I saw a UFO
BIDEN DESCRIBES GIULIANI AS "A NOUN AND A VERB AND 9/11": Rudy Giuliani, the front-running Republican candidate for president, had questioned what credentials Hillary Clinton, the front-running Democrat, has to serve as president in the last debate of the Republican candidates. The Swamp: Electing a president: A question of experience
IRAN, IRAQ DOMINATE DEMOCRATIC DEBATE: 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. CNN Political Ticker: Two votes, two conflicts at center of debate
GIULIANI QUESTIONED ON PROSTATE CANCER NUMBERS: In a radio advertisement playing in New Hampshire and in speeches along the campaign trail, Rudolph W. Giuliani has cited statistics to cut at the heart of his Democratic rivals’ health care proposals, which he has derided as European-style "socialist" plans that will lower the standard of care in the United States. New York Times: Giuliani's Prostate Cancer Figure Is Disputed
HUCKABEE "SHOCKED" IF BROWNBACK SUPPORTS GIULIANI: Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (R) has joined the growing chorus of conservatives who say they would be surprised and disappointed if Sen. Sam Brownback (R-Kan.) were to endorse ex-New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani’s (R) bid for the White House. The Hill: Huckabee doubts Rudy will get nod
OBAMA TOUGHENS UP: Political pros rarely agree about anything, but virtually all of them say that Barack Obama needs to come out swinging if he is to overtake Hillary Clinton in the race for the Democratic nomination. Washington Examiner: Obama boxes but does he pack a KO punch?
ROMNEY SAYS HE'D BRING OLYMPICS TO CHICAGO: Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney said Tuesday that he would lobby to bring the 2016 Summer Olympics to Chicago if he is elected. Associated Press: Romney says he'll lobby for Olympics
CLINTON, GIULIANI SPAR OVER MUKASEY: Hillary Clinton and Rudy Giuliani clashed Tuesday over Michael Mukasey's bid to be attorney general, with the former mayor accusing his longtime foe of trying to derail his pal's nomination. New York Daily News: Hillary Clinton, Rudy Giuliani clash over AG nominee
DISENCHANTED GOP TURN TO PAUL: Representative Ron Paul's presidential campaign has qualities that Republicans might admire: a charged-up base and the ability to tap the Internet for cash. Instead, the Texan is a pariah in the party. Bloomberg: Paul Draws Disillusioned Republicans to Presidential Campaign
CONSERVATIVES WARMING UP TO GIULIANI: Some influential social conservatives seem to be warming up to the presidential candidacy of former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani. Politico: Right fears Giuliani with good reason
MCCAIN CHANGES POSITION ON IMMIGRATION POLICY TO APPEAL TO GOP: Sen. John McCain has quietly been piling up flip-flops, including ditching his long-held support for the Law of the Sea convention and telling bloggers he now opposes the DREAM Act to legalize illegal alien students. Washington Times: McCain caters to GOP voters
OBAMA, CLINTON SIMILAR ON MOST ISSUES: The Iraq war. Healthcare. Diplomacy. Iran. In the nine months since launching his insurgent campaign for president, Senator Barack Obama of Illinois has seized on a slew of issues in trying to set himself apart from Senator Hillary Clinton of New York. But with Clinton's dominance unabated, there is little evidence Obama has made headway on any of them. Boston Globe: Obama's similarities to Clinton land him in a hard place
GIULIANI TOUGH ON ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION: Responsibility for stopping illegal immigration belongs to the federal government and not to cities, states or businesses, Republican presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani said Tuesday. Associated Press: Giuliani: Illegals are a federal problem
BIG DONORS PLAN MAJOR ADVERTISEMENT EFFORT FOR DEMS: The wealthy Democrats and giant organizations that spent $135 million to try and make John F. Kerry president in 2004 are reaching into their pockets for another round. Politico: Mega-donors prepare for '08 battle
CLINTON UNDECIDED ON FREE TRADE WITH PERU: Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton has not decided whether to vote for a free trade agreement with Peru, a spokesman for the New York senator said on Tuesday. Reuters: Sen. Clinton undecided on U.S.-Peru free trade pact
COUNTRY ARTISTS SING FOR BOTH PARTIES: On a warm evening last month, country music star John Rich strode onto a flag-draped stage in Lawrenceburg, Tenn., and struck a pose in front of a "Fred Thompson for President" banner. The Tennessean: Country artists support candidates in both parties
RON PAUL TELLS LENO THERE'S "A RISK I COULD WIN": Rep. Ron Paul had 10 of his 15 minutes of fame this afternoon during the taping in Burbank of "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno," now a regular stop for political candidates. And he got several rounds of applause. They will echo out of television sets across the country's time zones all this evening as Americans climb into bed. LA Times: Ron Paul tucks America into bed tonight
ANTI-CLINTON VIDEO DRAWS OVER A MILLION WEB VIEWERS: First came the Orwellian mash up YouTube video that portrayed Hillary Rodham Clinton as Big Brother. Then came a clip of her off-key rendition of "The Star-Spangled Banner." Now, a stinging 13-minute video by a bitter Clinton foe is finding its own Internet audience. Washington Examiner: Anti-Clinton video draws web audience
HUCKABEE DISTANCES HIMSELF FROM ARKANSAS MURDER CASE: Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee distanced himself Tuesday from the case of an Arkansas man who killed a woman after being paroled for rape when Huckabee was the state's governor. Associated Press: Huckabee distances himself in Arkansas case
NADER SUES DNC, MAY RUN IN '08: Activist and sometime presidential candidate Ralph Nader, who ran in both 2000 and 2004, said yesterday he will decide by the end of this year whether he will again run in 2008. Washington Post: Nader Suing DNC Over '04, Hasn't Ruled Out '08
FORMER BUSH SPEECHWRITER TELLS ALL IN NEW BOOK: For Michael Gerson, the pattern became discouragingly familiar. A proposal to help the poor or sick would be presented at a White House meeting, but Vice President Cheney's office or the budget team or some other skeptical officials would shoot it down. Too expensive. Wrong priority. Washington Post: With Book, Gerson Is Back To Fight for GOP's Identity
On the Trail:
Compiled by Katy Byron
CNN Washington Bureau
* Between town hall meetings in Peterborough and Manchester, New Hampshire, former Sen. John Edwards, D-North Carolina, will take a break and celebrate Halloween by taking his two young children trick-or-treating in Bedford.
* Sen. Barack Obama, D-Illinois, will return home to Chicago to take his daughters trick-or-treating.
* Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani will visit with local residents at Bickford's Family Restaurant in Nashua, New Hampshire.
* Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, takes a turn presenting his health care reform plan at the Presidential Candidate Forums event at the Kaiser Family Foundation in Washington. McCain will take questions from a panel organized by Families USA and the Federation of American Hospitals.
* Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney returns to Iowa, a state the Republican continues to lead in the polls, to attend a "Romney for President" house party in Adel.
* Former Tennessee Sen. Fred Thompson spends another day in California and heads to the Four Seasons Hotel in San Francisco for a press conference. Thompson is focusing on the region this week, because there are "a lot of local delegate seats up for grabs," a campaign aide told CNN.
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