WASHINGTON (CNN) - Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards Thursday said a new intelligence assessment of Iran's nuclear program validated his opposition to the Bush administration's “saber rattling” against the Islamic republic.
"It means that the people like me who spoke up very strongly against Bush and Cheney on their saber rattling about Iran and against this the important resolution that the senate voted on the Iranian revolutionary guard - it means that we were right,” Edwards said in an interview with CNN's Wolf Blitzer.
"It's now been verified that they needed to be stopped and there was no factual basis for them to continue this march to war,” the North Carolina Democrat said.
The new assessment by U.S. intelligence agencies, released Monday, said that Iran halted work toward a nuclear weapon in 2003 and is unlikely to be able to produce enough enriched uranium for a bomb until at least 2010. The assessment was a reversal from a 2005 assessment that said that Iran was actively developing a nuclear weapon.
Will Romney's speech change any minds among evangelicals in South Carolina?
COLUMBIA, South Carolina (CNN) - Two prominent voices in South Carolina Christian politics watched Mitt Romney's speech at Capitol City News & Maps in Columbia on Thursday morning: Oran Smith, president of the Palmetto Family Council, and Joe Mack, public policy director of the South Carolina Baptist Convention.
Their thoughts? A solid performance, they said, but unlikely to impact what South Carolina’s evangelicals think about Mormonism.
"It was a good speech, but I'm not sure he changed anybody's mind," Mack said. "I'm not sure it explained the difference in Mormonism and other denominations."
Mack, a Baptist, said he was sure he and Romney were far apart theologically. But he added that they likely shared many of the same positions on "values" issues.
Christian conservatives are crucial to Romney's presidential bid, and white evangelical Protestants constitute more than half of likely South Carolina’s Republican voters, according to a recent AP/Pew Poll.
Thursday's speech was aimed squarely at those evangelicals in Iowa and South Carolina who may remain skeptical of his faith.
More than twice as many Hispanic voters say they favor Democrats to Republicans, according to a new poll.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - More than twice as many Hispanic voters say they favor Democrats as Republicans – the lowest level of support for President Bush’s party since shortly before his first White House run, according to a new poll released Thursday.
Fifty-seven percent of registered Hispanic voters told the non-partisan Pew Hispanic Center they favor Democrats, compared to 23 percent who said the same for Republicans. Back in 1999, the results were 58 percent to 25 percent, roughly the same margin as the current survey.
In June 2006, before Congress began to consider an overhaul of immigration policy and enforcement, the margin was slimmer: 49 percent of registered Hispanic voters then said they favored Democrats, and 28 percent chose Republicans.
Using a formula that took into account both voting patterns from the last presidential cycle and the most recent U.S. Census data, the organization projected there would be 8.6 million Hispanic voters next year – 1 million more than in 2004.
The group also estimated that Hispanics could affect the outcome in four states where Bush prevailed in 2004 by 5 percentage points or fewer: Nevada, Florida, New Mexico and Colorado.
President Bush and other national Republican leaders had made luring Hispanics from the Democratic Party a major priority. But 41 percent of registered voters surveyed said administration policies had harmed Hispanics, compared to 16 percent who said they had been helpful. Thirty-three percent said they had had no impact.
COLUMBIA, South Carolina (CNN) - Here's what South Carolina GOP Chairman Katon Dawson had to say Thursday about Mitt Romney's speech:
"The Republican Party has a proud tradition of being inclusive, and our candidates have never shied away from talking about their faith. Each Republican candidate for president, including Governor Romney, has candidly and passionately discussed the role faith plays in their lives, and it is critically important they continue to keep faith as an important part of the public discourse during this election."
- CNN South Carolina Producer Peter Hamby
LEXINGTON, South Carolina (CNN) - Eight Confederate flag-waving men protested outside a Fred Thompson campaign stop Wednesday evening, one week after Thompson and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney criticized the flag during the CNN/YouTube debate in Florida.
Clad in jackets bearing the Confederate flag and holding signs reading "South Carolina hates Fred Thompson" and "Fred Thompson go home," the protesters said Thompson was not a "true southerner."
Jim Hanks, chairman of the South Carolina League of the South, said that Thompson's answer at the debate was worse than Romney's because Thompson is from a southern state.
"He's masquerading as a good ole boy," Hanks said.
Asked about the flag during last week's debate, Thompson said that, "as far as a public place is concerned, I am glad that people have made the decision not to display it as a prominent flag, symbolic of something, at a state capital."
But the former Senator from Tennessee qualified his statement: "As a part of a group of flags or something of that nature, you know, honoring various service people at different times in different parts of the country, I think that's different."
The Confederate flag on display at the South Carolina Statehouse waves next to the Confederate soldier monument there.
"The flag stands right next to the Confederate Memorial on the capitol grounds, honoring, as Fred says, the 'various service people at different times and different parts of the country,'" said Thompson spokesman Todd Harris after the debate.
Romney was more blunt.
"That flag, frankly, is divisive, and it shouldn't be shown," he said.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid may put some of the Democratic presidential candidates in awkward spot this weekend.
The Nevada Democrat told reporters Thursday he will schedule a Senate vote on the Energy Bill this Saturday. The bill, which calls for a fuel economy standard of 35 miles per gallon by the year 2020, passed the House earlier Thursday by a vote of 235-181.
But the vote is expected to be considerably tighter in the Senate, where Republicans have threatened to filibuster the measure and Reid may need to muster at least 60 votes to block that action. To that end, Reid said he has asked the four Senate Democrats running for president – Joe Biden of Delaware, Hillary Clinton of New York, Barack Obama of Illinois and Chris Dodd of Connecticut – to head back to Capitol Hill Saturday.
But with less than a month to go until the Iowa caucuses – and no clear frontrunner – Reid may have hard time getting the candidates back inside the Beltway.
Obama especially will have a difficult time making the trip to Washington. He and talk-show host Oprah Winfrey are set to make a highly anticipated tour through the Hawkeye State Saturday before heading to South Carolina together on Sunday.
The Senate offices of two of the presidential candidates say they have been told a Saturday vote is only a possibility. So far, none have said they plan to return to Washington that day.
- CNN Congressional Correspondent Jessica Yellin contributed to this report
Curt Schilling campaigned for John McCain Wednesday in New Hampshire.
MANCHESTER, New Hampshire (CNN) - Sen. John McCain competed for top billing with superstar campaign trail partner Curt Schilling Wednesday as the two made an appearance at a Granite State private school.
The crowd, a mix of voters and baseball fans, threw questions at both the Arizona senator and the World Series winning Red Sox pitcher. The two became close friends when Schilling played for the Arizona Diamondbacks.
McCain playfully acknowledged that a lot of the young people on hand "came because of Curt, not because of me."
Schilling, who supported President Bush in 2004, dismissed former New York mayor – and lifelong Yankee fan - Rudy Giuliani’s recent late-season support for the Boston Red Sox.
"That's a status quo of the flip flopping thing that happens across a lot of party lines," Schilling said.
Schilling addressed the possible Red Sox recruitment of Minnesota Twins pitcher Johan Santana, calling it "potentially exciting," and diplomatically discussed his rivalry with New York Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez.
"He's going to retire the greatest player that ever played the game offensively, I don't question that for a second,” said Schilling, adding of the current state of the Red Sox, “We're made a little different, this team, this franchise now."
Obama is out with a new ad in Iowa that showcases his well-received Jefferson-Jackson speech.
(CNN) - Democrat Barack Obama’s campaign debuted a new 60-second ad in Iowa Thursday that stresses his outsider credentials.
The spot, which is drawn from footage of the Illinois senator’s well-received speech at the Iowa Democratic Party’s Jefferson Jackson Dinner, doesn’t directly mention his chief presidential rival, Sen. Hillary Clinton of New York – but it does reference the partisan battles of the last Clinton presidency.
"I don't wanna spend the next year or the next four years refighting the same fights that we had in the 1990s,” says the Illinois senator. “I don't wanna pit red America against blue America. I want to be the President...of the United States of America."
Campaign officials say the ad will run in heavy rotation statewide.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - As the heated rhetoric between Democratic presidential candidates Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton heats up in Iowa, many political observers are drawing parallels to the bitter fight that played out in the Hawkeye State in 2004 between then-candidates Howard Dean and Dick Gephardt.
Dean and Gephardt were onetime frontrunners in Iowa, but weeks of attacks against each other led both to finish lowdown in the polls, clearing the way for Sen. John Kerry to win the state and eventually the Democratic nomination.
Could the same thing happen to Clinton and Obama? CNN's Suzanne Malveaux takes a look.
(CNN) - White House hopeful Mitt Romney said religious liberty "is fundamental to America's greatness," in his Thursday address on faith in America.
Romney, seeking to become the first Mormon president, explained how his faith would affect his presidency in his speech at former President George H. W. Bush's presidential library.
"There are some who may feel that religion is not a matter to be seriously considered in the context of the weighty threats that face us. If so, they are at odds with the nation's founders," Romney said.
- CNN's Kristi Keck
Related video: How much is Romney's Mormon faith a liability?