(CNN) - He's the most prominent Democrat yet to take a side in the presidential election, but two sources close to Al Gore tell us not to expect the former vice president to endorse either Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama any time during the primary season.
The sources say Gore talks with both Clinton and Obama, and is on good terms with both. But with Sen. John Kerry and Bill Clinton both aligned to a candidate, Gore has a role to serve as the neutral elder statesman in the party.
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[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i.l.cnn.net/cnn/2008/images/02/11/art.mccainpaul.gi.jpg caption="Paul said he likely won't vote for McCain. "]
(CNN) – John McCain is lining up quite a few major endorsements now that he’s the GOP’s likely nominee - but at least one Republican said Monday he won’t be backing the Arizona senator.
Speaking to the Chicago Tribune, Ron Paul said he'd only support McCain for president if the Arizona senator "has a lot of change of heart" on his Iraq war stands.
“I can not support anybody with the foreign policy he advocates - you know, perpetual war…I think it’s un-American, unconstitutional, immoral, and not Republican," Paul said.
The comments come two days after the Texas congressman definitely ruled out running as a third party candidate, and said he was phasing back his presidential bid to focus on his home district and the re-election race he faces.
"If I were to lose the primary for my congressional seat, all our opponents would react with glee, and pretend it was a rejection of our ideas. I cannot and will not let that happen," Paul wrote on his Web site Saturday.
Paul also acknowledged he was cutting back his presidential campaign staff, but said he will not formally bow out of the race before the convention.
- CNN Ticker Producer Alexander Mooney
[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i.l.cnn.net/cnn/2008/images/02/11/art.mccainmoney.ap.jpg caption="McCain will turn down federal matching funds. "]
(CNN) - John McCain will turn down government matching funds for his primary campaign, a move that frees the Arizona senator and campaign finance reform advocate from spending caps.
In a letter to the Federal Elections Commission Monday, the presumptive Republican nominee wrote he will "make no requests for matching payments, and will not accept matching-fund payments, including the initial amounts and other amounts certified by the Federal Election Commission in connection with previous submissions."
McCain had asked to participate in the system, in a last ditch effort to keep his cash-poor campaign alive. In December, the FEC said he was eligible for $5.8 million. But had he accepted that money, McCain would have only been allowed to spend about $54 million total on his primary campaign, according to the Associated Press.
McCain is still eligible to accept federal matching funds for his general election campaign.
- CNN Ticker Producer Alexander Mooney
[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i.l.cnn.net/cnn/2008/images/02/11/art.obamaclinton.gi.jpg caption="Obama and Clinton will debate in Texas next Thursday. "]WASHINGTON (CNN) – Illinois Sen. Barack Obama and New York Sen. Hillary Clinton accepted invitations Monday to appear at a CNN, Univision, and Texas Democratic Party presidential debate scheduled for next week in Austin at the University of Texas.
The February 21st debate will air live on CNN and CNN International from 8 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. ET. At 11:30 p.m. ET, the debate will air in Spanish on Univision.
Journalists from CNN and Univision will question the candidates, and the debate will be moderated by a CNN anchor.
Ahead of the so-called Potomac Primary Tuesday, Obama held a rousing rally in Baltimore Monday. (Photo Credit: Mike Roselli/CNN)
[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i.l.cnn.net/cnn/2008/images/02/11/art.clinton.ap.jpg caption=" Clinton downplayed her weekend losses Monday. "] WHITE MARSH, Maryland (CNN) - Hillary Clinton on Monday explained away Barack Obama's clean sweep of the weekend's caucuses and primaries as a product of a caucus system that favors "activists" and, in the case of the Louisiana primary, an energized African-American community.
She told reporters who had gathered to watch her tour a General Motors plant here that "everybody knew, you all knew, what the likely outcome of these recent contests were."
"These are caucus states by and large, or in the case of Louisiana, you know, a very strong and very proud African-American electorate, which I totally respect and understand."
Clinton has publicly dismissed the caucus voting system since before Super Tuesday, seeking to lower expectations heading into a series of contests that played to Obama's advantage. His campaign features what many consider to be a stronger and more dedicated grassroots organization than Clinton's.
Noting that "my husband never did well in caucus states either," Clinton argued that caucuses are "primarily dominated by activists" and that "they don't represent the electorate, we know that."
The New York senator went out of her way to say she was "absolutely" looking forward to the Ohio and Texas primaries in March, where she believes voters are more receptive to her bread-and-butter message.
She also downplayed many of Obama's Super Tuesday victories, describing them as states that Democrats should not expect to win in November.
"It is highly unlikely we will win Alaska or North Dakota or Idaho or Nebraska," she said, naming several of Obama's red state wins. "But we have to win Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, California, Arizona, New Mexico, Florida, Michigan ... And we've got to be competitive in places like Texas, Missouri and Oklahoma."
Watch Hillary Clinton assess her weekend losses
- CNN Political Producer Peter Hamby
(CNN) - Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee received the endorsement of prominent conservative activist Paul Weyrich Monday.
Weyrich had previously backed former GOP contender Mitt Romney.
Huckabee said that Weyrich had made contact with him after Romney’s exit from the race and “indicated to me that he felt like I was the one guy that was left that was a true conservative that really believed things that mattered to a lot of conservatives.” He added that the activist had cited his stands on issues from national security and immigration to taxes and abortion.
Weyrich is the chairman of the Free Congress Foundation and a founder of the Moral Majority along with the late Jerry Falwell. The group was one of the largest political lobby groups for evangelical Christians, and helped deliver two-thirds of the evangelical vote to Ronald Reagan in the 1980 presidential election.
The former Arkansas governor said Weyrich had been “a mentor and a hero, and I have admired his tenacity as conservative stalwart.”
–CNN’s Alexander Marquardt and Emily Sherman
[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i.l.cnn.net/cnn/2008/images/02/11/art.jeb.gi.jpg caption="Jeb Bush formally endorsed McCain Tuesday. "](CNN) - Jeb Bush was one of the most sought-after endorsements ahead the presidential primary season. But the former Florida governor stayed neutral, despite reports many of his close associates were gravitating towards Mitt Romney.
Now, Bush has become the latest establishment Republican to formally throw his support behind John McCain. In a statement released by the McCain campaign, he called the Arizona senator a "patriot and devoted conservative leader."
"Like no other candidate in the field, John McCain has made tremendous sacrifices for this nation," said Bush. "He is beholden to no interest other than that of the public good. He is determined and steadfast in his commitment to reducing the burden of high taxes, restoring the people's trust in their government, and winning the war against radical Islamic extremists."
- CNN Ticker Producer Alexander Mooney
Obama should skip Tavis Smiley’s State of the Black Union forum.
Sen. Barack Obama took a lot of heat last year from participants in Tavis Smiley’s State of the Black Union annual confab, which was held in Virginia. To be fair, he was a little busy that day…announcing HE WAS RUNNING FOR PRESIDENT!
Some of the folks there were beside themselves, and frankly, were childish about it, even saying that he should have put off his presidential announcement to be there.
Read Roland Martin's full column on the AC360 Blog.
[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i.l.cnn.net/cnn/2008/images/01/16/art.blitzeriowa.cnn.jpg caption="Blitzer: Most endorsements don't make much of a difference."] WASHINGTON (CNN) - My email inbox is usually loaded these days with releases from the presidential candidates boasting of major presidential endorsements, usually from politicians and newspaper editorials. On the Republican side, John McCain is lining up tons of GOP endorsements, most recently from Florida’s popular former governor, Jeb Bush. The Republican establishment quickly seems to be lining up behind him – now that he appears to have the nomination mathematically wrapped up. These late endorsements are not exactly profiles in courage.
Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton are getting tons of endorsements as well. The lists keep on growing. They are both courting John Edwards right now. No doubt, they would each love to win Al Gore’s support. But how much do these endorsements really matter?
Most experts believe that Florida Gov. Charlie Crist’s endorsement of McCain before the Florida primary helped. The same is probably true of California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s endorsement of McCain. Both of those governors are popular.
But McCain suffered an embarrassing and crushing defeat over the weekend in Kansas despite the endorsement of Sen. Sam Brownback. In Massachusetts, Obama had the full-throated endorsements of both sitting senators, Ted Kennedy and John Kerry, as well as the governor, Deval Patrick. But Clinton won. There are plenty of other examples.
I have often felt that most endorsements probably might not help, but usually can’t hurt. Of course, there are some endorsements that probably can hurt. I suspect The New York Times’ endorsement of McCain for the Republican nomination didn’t help shore up his support among the conservative base.