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Huckabee surge hits South Carolina
WASHINGTON (CNN) - There are crowded presidential primary fields, and then there’s South Carolina. There are six Republican candidates with double-digit support in the latest CNN/Opinion Research Corporation Poll including two, Mitt Romney and Ron Paul, who are up from single-digit showings in the last survey, conducted this summer.
But one contender seems to be pulling away from the pack. Roughly one in four Palmetto State Republicans, 24 percent, say they support Mike Huckabee, up from 3 percent in the previous survey. Fred Thompson comes in second with 17 percent. Meanwhile, Rudy Giuliani’s support drops by roughly half since the last poll from 30 percent to 16 percent, tied with Mitt Romney. John McCain, who was second in the last survey, comes in fifth with 13 percent. Ron Paul pulls 11 percent.
The Democratic race appears to be tightening a bit in this latest poll, taken after Oprah Winfrey’s weekend visit on behalf of Barack Obama. But the shape of the race is generally unchanged from the summer survey: Hillary Clinton leads the pack with 42 percent, Obama follows with 34 percent (up from 27 percent), and John Edwards comes in third with 16 percent. Full Story
Meanwhile, most presidential contenders remain focused on the Hawkeye State, where Democratic candidates met Thursday for their final showdown before the caucuses take place three weeks from now.
Few events this campaign season promised to provide more awkward moments than that debate. Clinton and Obama shared an Iowa stage just hours after she personally apologized for a statement made by one of her top Granite State advisors about Obama’s admitted past drug use.
But the afternoon offered even fewer fireworks than the Republican debate that took place on the same stage just a day earlier. Much like in the GOP debate, the economy - which now tops the Iraq war as a concern of Democratic voters - proved to be the focus of much of the discussion.
Clinton played to a major campaign asset - her husband - by seeding her answers with reminders of his presidential successes. As for Obama, the debate’s low-key vibe seemed to play to his strengths.
But perhaps the real winner was Edwards, who has staked his candidacy on a strong showing in Iowa. A CNN focus group of undecided Hawkeye State voters overwhelmingly responded that Edwards came out on top at the end of the 90-minute debate. Many of these voters said he would get their vote if the caucuses were held today.
- CNN Associate Political Editor Rebecca Sinderbrand
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Political Hot Topics
(Today's top political stories from news organizations across the country)
Compiled by Lindsey Pope
CNN Washington Bureau
Des Moines Register: Upbeat Democrats' Theme: Who Can Most Credibly Usher In Change? Six major Democratic candidates for president varied on spending, energy and trade policy during The Des Moines Register’s debate Thursday, an upbeat final meeting of the candidates before Iowa’s leadoff nominating caucuses.
New York Times’ The Caucus: Encouraging Students to Caucus When Iowans caucus on Jan. 3, the state’s college students will be spread far and wide on winter break. But some colleges are trying to make it easy for their students to give up home cooking for a few days and head back to campus early to help nominate the next president.
CNN: Clinton Adviser Steps Down After Drug Use Comments One of Sen. Hillary Clinton's top advisers is stepping down after saying Sen. Barack Obama's admission of past drug use would hurt his chances in a general election match up.
USA Today: Giuliani Shifts Tactics, Goes On Offensive Republican Rudy Giuliani's plan to absorb punishment in the party's early primaries and then strike back in primaries in delegate-rich states on Jan. 29 and Feb. 5 has hit a wall, political analysts and strategists say.
New York Times: Biden Campaigning With Ease After Hardships Senator Joseph R. Biden Jr. of Delaware, a back-in-the-pack Democratic candidate for president, was answering a voter’s question last week about negative campaigning when he abruptly began talking about his first, euphoric run for the Senate, in 1972, and the personal tragedy that nearly destroyed his life afterward.
New York Times: Apologies From the Heart (of Darkness?) But in the aftermath of the apologies, both the Clinton and Huckabee campaigns kept the original slurs alive through a series of interviews, raising questions about the sincerity of their apologies, especially in the heat of a wide-open campaign with the first voting less than three weeks away.
The Hill: Rollins To Serve As Huckabee’s National Chairman Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee scored a major victory Thursday when he secured the support of prominent GOP insider Ed Rollins, who will serve as national chairman of Huckabee’s campaign.
The Guardian: Huckabee Took Thousands In Gifts, Records Show A $1,000 pair of cufflinks from a supporter, tens of thousands of dollars of clothing from a wealthy Little Rock businessman and thousands in gift certificates and cash from staff and appointees were among the lavish gifts given to Republican presidential candidate and unexpected frontrunner Mike Huckabee while he was governor of Arkansas.
Wall Street Journal: More Blacks Lean Toward Obama Barack Obama's rising poll numbers among white voters in Iowa and New Hampshire are having an unexpected ripple effect: Some black voters are switching their allegiance from Hillary Clinton and lining up behind him too.
Washington Post: The Ghost of a Father Thoughts of his father "bubble up," as Barack Obama puts it in an interview, "at different moments, at any course of the day or week." "I think about him often," he says. He last saw his father in 1971, when he was 10 years old
USA Today: Mccain Gaining In New Hampshire As his Republican rivals lock horns in Iowa, Sen. John McCain seems so little concerned with the state's caucuses that during a debate there Wednesday he mentioned he opposes ethanol subsidies, the federal payments beloved of Midwestern corn growers.
New Hampshire Union-Leader: Bishop: Weigh Moral Issues In Vote Bishop John B. McCormack, in a pamphlet the Diocese of Manchester is distributing at masses this weekend, is calling on New Hampshire Catholics to remember church teaching when they cast their votes.
Boston Globe: Some Voters Hear Body Language Of Candidates Clearly The talking heads gab about front-runners and wannabes, attacks made and deflected, answers carefully parsed. But when Newbury Street hairstylist Mario Russo watches the Democratic presidential debates, he looks at something different: body language.
Washington Post: Poll Shows More Optimism on War A year after approval of President Bush's handling of the war in Iraq dipped to an all-time low, a new Washington Post-ABC News poll finds discontent toward the war easing slightly, with Republicans and independents significantly more positive about the situation than they were 12 months ago.
CNN: Contempt Citations Recommended For Rove, Bolten Members of the Senate Judiciary Committee voted Thursday in favor of handing out contempt citations to a former and current White House official for failing to comply with subpoenas issued in the investigation into the firings of eight U.S. attorneys last year.
On the Trail:
Compiled by Lauren Kornreich and Katy Byron
CNN Washington Bureau
* Barack Obama continues his bus tour through Iowa with a meet and greet in Monticello and a roundtable in Cedar Rapids. Later, he meets with Iowans in Manchester and Guttenberg.
* Mike Huckabee and Chuck Norris tour Elektrisola and speak with employees in Boscawen, New Hampshire. Later, they visit the New Hampshire Veterans' home in Tilton.
* Hillary Clinton attends a campaign fundraiser at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York.
* Mitt Romney holds an "Ask Mitt Anything" town hall meeting in Carroll, Iowa. Later, he holds campaign events in Early and Storm Lake.
* Chris Dodd tours PMX Industries with Sen. Tom Harkin and meets with employees in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Later, he delivers a speech at the Red, White, and Blue Dinner in Davenport.
* John Edwards holds town hall meetings in Manchester and Elkader, Iowa.
* John McCain meets with local residents at American Legion Post 147 in James Island, South Carolina.
* Ron Paul meets with local Republicans at Red Lion Hotel and Casino in Elko, Nevada.
* Bill Richardson participates in an AARP candidate forum in Concord, New Hampshire. Later, he holds town hall forums in Keene, Claremont, Hanover and Lebanon.
* Joe Biden holds Caucus Countdown campaign events in Keokuk, Fort Madison and Burlington, Iowa. Later, he addresses the Democrats Red, White, and Blue Dinner at the Mississippi Valley Fair in Davenport.
* Fred Thompson holds a press conference at Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory in Louisville, Kentucky.
* The Senate Radio-Television Correspondents' Gallery Daybook
* The House Radio-Television Correspondents' Gallery Daybook