Clinton spoke about her global strategy to combat AIDS on Thursday in California.
(CNN) – Sen. Hillary Clinton this week announced a global strategy to combat AIDS and said as president she will strike one of the most controversial provisions of George W. Bush's global AIDS program - a requirement that one-third of disease prevention funds go to abstinence-before-marriage programs.
While the HIV/AIDS plans of Sen. Barack Obama and former Sen. John Edwards express clear opposition to "ideology" in disease prevention funding, Clinton's plan offers the most explicit rejection of the abstinence requirements from a presidential candidate to date.
The President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, also known as PEPFAR, is a U.S.-funded, five-year, $15 billion plan to combat HIV/AIDS in developing nations. Initiated in 2003 by the Bush administration, the program is set to expire next year.
PEPFAR has been criticized by public health advocates outside the administration for its stipulation, mandated by Congress, that at least one-third of the money spent by the United States on disease prevention abroad should go to abstinence education programs.
Bush administration officials have defended abstinence education as part of a multi-faceted approach to fighting AIDS, a strategy that also includes "being faithful" and using condoms.
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- CNN Political Producer Peter Hamby
There is a place for Bill Clinton in an Obama administration.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Democrat Barack Obama has become increasingly critical of presidential rival Hillary Clinton as the primaries draw near, but when it comes to the New York senator's famous husband, Obama has nothing but praise.
In an interview with Time Magazine that hits newsstands Friday, the Illinois Democrat said he'd offer the former president a job in his administration "in a second."
"There are few more talented people," Obama said.
Obama's comment follows heightened attacks on Clinton over her assertions that the White House experience she gained during her husband’s administration forms a valuable part of her qualifications to hold the office herself.
"I don’t think Michelle would claim that she is the best qualified person to be a United States senator by virtue of me talking to her on occasion about the work that I’ve done," Obama said in an interview with ABC earlier this week.
Obama's mantra of 'change' is often interpreted as an implicit criticism of the politics of the Clinton administration, but the Illinois senator has generally refrained from direct swipes at the former president himself.
(A rare exception came during a light moment on the campaign trail last weekend, when Obama took Bill Clinton to task for saying during his 1992 presidential bid that he had smoked marijuana, but never inhaled.
"I never understood that line," Obama said, to laughter from the crowd. "The point was to inhale. That was the point.")
In the same interview with Time, Obama also said he would be happy to offer Al Gore a position in his administration tackling climate change issues.
"He has been working on this for decades," Obama said. "The country and the world caught up to him."
- CNN Ticker Producer Alexander Mooney
A McCain memo declares the candidate is the most presidential.
(CNN) - In an internal memo to the campaign’s leadership team obtained by CNN’s John King, John McCain’s campaign manager Rick Davis wrote that the Arizona senator “was the only candidate on stage [at Wednesday’s CNN/YouTube debate] who sounded like a president.”
The key to winning the White House, he added, is “dignity” and acting “presidential”. Said Davis, “I have to think the Clinton campaign is having a great day after watching the various school yard fights that broke out between Mitt Romney and Rudy Giuliani.” (Read memo [PDF])
Though McCain was part of some skirmishes over immigration, Davis wrote, “do we really believe that by ripping our party apart on immigration that we will be better able to win a general election against Hillary Clinton and the Democrats?”
Davis accused rivals of “name calling” as he quoted a National Review column describing McCain as “grown up and serious.” McCain, he told supporters, is needed to “restore dignity to the chaotic selection process.”
Meanwhile, GOP candidate Fred Thompson also criticized the process, including the debate forums, and called for a more substantive campaign. Thompson told reporters in Phoenix that “a presidential campaign is, as it turns out, not the best way in the world to discuss serious issues. “
“I’m thinking about a plan that may be a little bit better, where we might have a little more time to discuss serious issues,” said Thompson. “You go with what you have to go with, and that format is what we have to go with right now.”
- CNN’s Steve Brusk and Mark Norman
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:
CNN/YouTube debate draws record-breaking audience
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Nearly 5 million viewers tuned in to watch the CNN/YouTube Republican presidential debate Wednesday night, making it the highest rated primary debate in cable news history. Full Story
Political Hot Topics
(Today's top political stories from news organizations across the country)
Compiled by Lindsey Pope
CNN Washington Bureau
New York Times: Citing Statistics, Giuliani Misses Time and Again
In almost every appearance as he campaigns for the Republican presidential nomination, Rudolph W. Giuliani cites a fusillade of statistics and facts to make his arguments about his successes in running New York City and the merits of his views.
USA Today: Immigration Is GOP Hot Button
A long-running dispute between Republican presidential rivals Mitt Romney and Rudy Giuliani centers on a term without a clear meaning: sanctuary city.
Washington Times: Immigration Groups Slam Huckabee As A 'Disaster'
Groups that support a crackdown on illegal aliens haven't settled on their champion in the race for the White House, but there's little doubt which Republican scares them most — former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee.
New Hampshire Union-Leader: Iowa's 'Hot Ticket' Headed Here
How is former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee playing in New Hampshire? Can he emerge from the single-digit morass in which he has polled here all year?
LA Times: A Surprise Turn In Iowa's Republican Race
With 34 days remaining, the Republican presidential race in Iowa has broken wide open, as Mike Huckabee surges into contention with the longtime front-runner, Mitt Romney.
Iowa Independent: Rumors and Accusations Cast Shadows on Brown and Black Presidential Forum
The [Brown and Black] forum, which is the oldest minority-focused presidential debate in the country, is one of the great traditions of the Iowa Caucuses, but local activists and campaigns have been frustrated by this year's planning and execution.
Des Moines Register: Iowa Ear: Happy Holidays, But Don't Tell Anyone
Iowa's political movers and shakers are hosting a number of holiday celebrations open to invited media, but with one caveat: They're off the record.
New Hampshire Union-Leader: Presidential Debates In NH Set Just Days Before Voting
Competing presidential debates the weekend before the New Hampshire Primary on Jan. 8 are infusing more drama into the final hours of the campaigns.
Boston Globe: With Iowa Tight, N.H. Becoming Clinton's Firewall
With Hillary Clinton faltering in polls leading up to the Iowa caucuses, the New Hampshire primary is looming as a possible make-or-break moment for her – in a place where she has most of the party's key endorsements and a sizable lead in the polls, but where a defeat could be devastating.
San Francisco Chronicle: Clinton, Democrats Find Religion, Court Evangelical Voters
A wise man once said it was easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to get into heaven – and it used to be nearly as tough for a Democratic candidate to take a presidential campaign to a conservative evangelical church.
Washington Post: The Candidate's 'Catch Me if You Can'
ABC correspondent Kate Snow was ready to push through the crowd and ask Hillary Clinton a question until an aide blocked the path of Snow's sound man as he aimed his boom mike in the senator's direction.
Washington Post: Obama Campaign Worker Discussed PAC Donations
Democratic Sen. Barack Obama's presidential campaign helped recommend several of the donations his political action committee made in recent months to politicians in key primary states as the campaign was working to secure endorsements, campaign officials said yesterday.
New York Times: Obama Takes His Campaign to Harlem
Senator Barack Obama held a fund-raiser in Harlem last night, his first event in the historic seat of black cultural and political power since he announced his Democratic presidential candidacy and a place where Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton enjoys wide popularity.
Chicago Tribune's The Swamp: No. 37 In Iowa For Obama Offices
Armed with a large pair of garden sheers, Michelle Obama cut the blue ribbon Thursday to open the 37th Iowa office for her husband's president campaign.
USA Today: Douglas Wilder Cools on Obama
Former Virginia Gov. L. Douglas Wilder, the nation's first elected black governor, is backing off plans for a quick endorsement of Sen. Barack Obama and is remaining neutral for now.
Boston Globe: Clinton, Romney Capture Notable Endorsements
Hillary Clinton and Mitt Romney each picked up high-profile endorsements yesterday.
DC Examiner: GOP Gay Group Slams Romney in New Ad
A Republican gay rights advocacy group accuses Mitt Romney of "Mitt-flops" in a new radio ad that criticizes the former Massachusetts governor on his tax record.
USA Today: Watchdog Group: Most Lobbyists Giving To Clinton Don't Represent 'Real People'
The Center for Responsive Politics, which tracks money in politics, today investigates what it calls the "lobbyist lobs" among Democrats Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and John Edwards.
Wall Street Journal: Host Indicted, Clinton Fund-Raiser Canceled
A Dec. 15 fund-raising event for Hillary Clinton at the home of prominent Mississippi trial laywer Richard “Dickie” Scruggs is off, now that Scruggs has been indicted for bribery.
Politico: Clinton Says Wife's Schedules Out Soon
Former President Bill Clinton told C-SPAN this week that he believes the long-inaccessible first lady schedules of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) will be released in January — in the heat of the first presidential nomination contests.
Seacoastonline: Biden: Impeachment If Bush Bombs Iran
Presidential hopeful Delaware Sen. Joe Biden stated unequivocally that he will move to impeach President Bush if he bombs Iran without Congressional approval.
DC Examiner: Biden Won't Serve As Secretary of State
Joe Biden is complaining that his foes keep saying he'd be a great secretary of state. Nothing wrong with that job, he says, but he's running for president.
LA Times: CAUSE CÉLÈBRE: Is Chuck Norris Huckabee's Secret Weapon?
AN A-list celebrity endorsement can lift a presidential campaign. But Chuck Norris' seal of approval can kick-start the Airbus.
DC Examiner: Can Oprah Win Women For Obama?
She’s universally recognized, enormously popular and, as one entertainment Web site put it, “has more power over women than George Clooney.” But is Oprah Winfrey influential enough to help Barack Obama close the widening gender gap with Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton?
The Times of London: Maybe Ron Paul Will Do For The Democrats What Ralph Nader Did For The Republicans
As an independent libertarian candidate (something he has been before but without his new national profile or money) Ron Paul would shave a few votes from the Democrats, as well as attracting others out of the woods, but the main losers would be the Republicans.
USA Today: Grass roots 'big ace' in Ron Paul's White House bid
Ron Paul joked during Wednesday's Republican debate that so much money is pouring into his campaign from the Internet that he's "struggling to figure out how to spend" it all.
Washington Post's The Trail: Macaca's New Gig: Richardson Staffer
Remember Macaca? The young man whose handheld video brought down former Virginia Sen. George Allen, has resurfaced in the presidential contest that Allen once hoped to be part of himself. S.R. Sidarth, the Fairfax student of Indian descent, is now a paid staffer in the communications office of Democratic Presidential hopeful Bill Richardson.
The Hill: Hunter Asks Bush For China Policy Meeting
Presidential hopeful Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.) is pressing President Bush to call a meeting with several congressional committees to discuss policy towards China in the aftermath of Beijing’s refusal to allow a Navy aircraft carrier and its accompanying ships to dock in Hong Kong last week.
Washington Post: Virginia GOP Gets Strict on Voting
The loyalty pledge to the Republican Party that Virginia voters will be required to sign if they vote in the state's GOP presidential primary on Feb. 12 is another attempt by the party to police the open primary system.
Roll Call: House GOP Aiding Wittman in Virginia Special Election
Less than two weeks before voters select a successor for the late Rep. Jo Ann Davis (R-Va.), the National Republican Congressional Committee has begun sinking a modest amount of money into the race and House GOP leaders have set up a campaign committee to help the party’s nominee, state Del. Rob Wittman.
The Hill: Louisiana Treasurer Announces Landrieu Challenge
Louisiana GOP state Treasurer John Kennedy announced Thursday he will challenge Sen. Mary Landrieu, who is considered the most vulnerable Democratic senator up for reelection in 2008.
On the Trail:
Compiled by Lauren Kornreich and Katy Byron
CNN Washington Bureau
* New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards, Illinois Sen. Barack Obama, Ohio Rep. Dennis Kucinich, Delaware Sen. Joe Biden and New York Sen. Hillary Clinton address the Democratic National Committee's annual winter meeting in Vienna, Virginia.
* Former Tennessee Sen. Fred Thompson and his wife, Jeri, are guests on Larry King Live.
* Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney holds an "Ask Mitt Anything" town hall meeting focusing on lowering taxes at Kirkwood Community College in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Later, Romney meets with Loras College students and attends a house party hosted by the Iowa Christian Alliance in Dubuque.
* Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee delivers remarks at the Greater Concord Chamber of Commerce 2008 Presidential Forum Series in Concord, New Hampshire. Later, Huckabee plays guitar with the Tilton school rock band in Tilton and meets with local residents in Bow.
* Former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards and Connecticut Sen. Chris Dodd attend the First Annual Culver-Judge Holiday Party in West Des Moines, Iowa.
* Senator Barack Obama, D-Illinois, has a photo op with New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg in Manhattan.
* Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani delivers remarks at town hall meetings at Sun City Pavilion in Okatie, South Carolina and at the Boca Raton Marriott in Boca Raton, Florida.
* Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-California, campaigns in South Carolina.
* Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, goes door-to-door with campaign volunteers in Tilghman Forest Neighborhood stops by Rick's Kitchen in North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Later, McCain holds a town hall meeting in Seabrook.
* Sen. Chris Dodd, D-Connecticut, attends a Fire Fighters for Dodd campaign event with Iowa State Rep. Patrick Kenned in Ames, Iowa.
* Rep. Tom Tancredo, R-Colorado, attends the Republican College Convention in Manchester, New Hampshire.
* The Senate Radio-Television Correspondents' Gallery Daybook
* The House Radio-Television Correspondents' Gallery Daybook
WASHINGTON (CNN) - In this video clip, former Sen. George Allen of Virginia speaks with CNN’S Wolf Blitzer about Republican presidential candidate Fred Thompson.
Allen, a co-chairman of Thompson’s presidential campaign, discusses Thompson’s performance during Wednesday’s CNN/YouTube Republican presidential debate and a Thompson ad targeting GOP rivals Mike Huckabee and Mitt Romney that the Thompson campaign submitted to CNN for the YouTube debate.
Allen, whose 2006 Senate re-election bid was undone by his "macaca" video moment distributed via YouTube, tells Blitzer he thinks the Internet’s impact on politics is good for American democracy. “The more that people are informed and have access to information and ideas, the better,” says Allen, likening the Internet to the printing press. Allen also talks with Blitzer about whether he will ever run for political office again. Watch Allen’s Situation Room interview.
–CNN Associate Producer Martina Stewart
(CNN) - Senior Political Analyst Bill Schneider filed this report from St. Petersburg, Florida. Schneider takes a look at how the Democratic presidential primary may play out since Democratic presidential candidates have pledged not to campaign in the Sunshine State because of a violation of the Democratic National Committee's rules for setting primary dates.
Related: Clinton leads in the Sunshine State
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee visited The Situation Room to talk about his surging presidential campaign and Wednesday's CNN/YouTube Republican presidential debate.
(CNN) - As the country watched Wednesday night's CNN/YouTube Republican debate, CNN had a group of 24 undecided GOP voters react to the debate in real-time through devices called "peoplemeters." In this report, Dana Bash takes a look at how key moments from the debate were received by the undecided voters.
Related video: Gauging Thompson on abortion
Related video: Enact the fair tax
Related video: Immigration a heated topic
Sen. Fred Thompson said ad was a favor to rivals.
LAS VEGAS, Nevada (CNN) - During the CNN/YouTube debate on Wednesday, former Sen. Fred Thompson made waves by becoming the first Republican candidate to air a negative attack ad in the 2008 race.
Each candidate was asked to produce a 30-second YouTube-style ad to air during the debate, but unlike his opponents’, Thompson’s didn’t feature himself. Instead, it went after Mitt Romney for changing his views on abortion and Mike Huckabee for his tax policy while governor of Arkansas.
Asked why he felt the need to make a negative ad, Thompson replied, “It’s interesting to me that it’s considered to be a negative ad when you play somebody else’s words.” He added, “The point is that time and time again with regards to Mayor Giuliani and Gov. Romney and Gov. Huckabee, their positions today are different than positions that they’ve had throughout their political careers.”
Thompson argued that by drawing a contrast between past and present, he was helping the public come to a decision about the candidates, “I thought that I was doing [the candidates] a favor letting the audience see their own words, not something that I said about them.”
Immediately following the airing of the clip, Romney responded, as he has many times on the campaign trail, that he was wrong on abortion. Since the debate, Huckabee has asserted that the clip of him was taken out of context.
- CNN Nevada Producer Alexander Marquardt
Sen. Hagel did not mince words with his assessment of the Bush administration Wednesday.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Sen. Chuck Hagel, a leading Republican lawmaker who has come out against the Iraq war, had some harsh words for the Bush White House Wednesday, calling it "one of the most arrogant" administrations he's ever seen.
"I would rate this one the lowest in capacity, in capability, in policy, in consensus - almost every area, I would give it the lowest grade," Hagel said during an event at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York.
Hagel supported the 2002 congressional resolution that authorized the invasion of Iraq the following year, but earlier this year he called Bush's plan to send thousands of additional U.S. troops to Iraq "the most dangerous foreign policy blunder in this country since Vietnam."
The two-term Nebraska senator flirted with a presidential bid last spring, but ultimately announced in September he has no plans to seek the White House and intends to leave the Senate when his term ends in 2009.
Speaking Wednesday, Hagel said the administration "squandered" opportunities following the attacks on 9/11.
"I think of this administration, what they could have done after 9/11, what was within their grasp," he said. "Every poll in the world showed 90 percent of the world for us. Iran had some of the first spontaneous demonstrations on the streets of Tehran supporting America."
"There's where they have failed the country," Hagel continued. "They've squandered the time and the opportunity that they had, and the next president is going to take four years to not only dig out from under that."
Despite Hagel’s insistence he has no plans to run for president, speculation persists that he and New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg may pair up for a third-party Independent bid. The two even reportedly had dinner Wednesday night.
"Bloomberg's got the money - I think it'd be Bloomberg-Hagel," the senator joked when asked about the speculation.
- CNN Ticker Producer Alexander Mooney