[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/04/10/art.carter.ap.jpg caption=" Former President Jimmy Carter."]WASHINGTON (CNN) - The Bush administration has urged former President Jimmy Carter not to go forward with plans to meet with the leader of Hamas, the State Department said Thursday.
Carter may meet next week in Damascus, Syria, with Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal, as part of a trip to the Middle East.
Carter spokeswoman Deanna Congileo told CNN she could not confirm or deny whether any specific meeting might take place during Carter's trip.
However, a Hamas official told CNN that Carter plans to meet with Meshaal, who lives in exile in Damascus to avoid being arrested or killed by Israel.
[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/04/10/art.obamaind.ap.jpg caption=" Obama campaigned in Indiana Thursday."](CNN) - Barack Obama appeared to have a bit of an awkward moment on the campaign trail in South Bend, Indiana.
From the pool report:
"[Obama] posed for report pictures with the staff when he apparently felt his phone start to vibrate in his pocket on his right thigh – against which one woman was closely pressed.
"Now that’s my phone buzzing there," he said, drawing a laugh. "I don’t want you to think I’m getting fresh or anything."
[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i.l.cnn.net/cnn/2008/POLITICS/04/10/bush.speech/art.wh.pic.jpg caption=" President Bush meets with Gen. David Petraeus, left, and Ryan Crocker, U.S. ambassador to Iraq, on Thursday."]WASHINGTON (CNN) - "Serious and complex challenges" remain in Iraq that will prevent further withdrawals of American troops this summer despite a reduction in violence in the past year, President Bush announced Thursday.
[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/04/10/art.chelsea.ap.jpg caption=" Chelsea Clinton has campaigned hard for her mother."](CNN)—Chelsea Clinton will mark her 100th college campus appearance Thursday at Villanova University.
The former and potential future first daughter spent the early part of her mother’s presidential campaign out of public eye living in New York. However she has stepped to the forefront of the campaign in recent months as she seeks to garner support from younger voters, the majority of whom have supported Barack Obama’s White House bid.
Obama and Hillary Clinton ran evenly in Massachusetts and California among voters under 30 and Clinton won the youth vote in Arkansas, but large majorities of young voters have supported the Illinois senator in most other primary contests.
[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/04/10/art.mccainplan.ap.jpg caption=" McCain will unveil a new mortgage relief plan Thursday."]John McCain will unveil what he is calling a "HOME" plan later Thursday to help Americans deal with the mortgage crisis.
Key excerpt from his speech:
"I believe a more robust, timely and targeted effort is my HOME plan. It offers every deserving American family or homeowner the opportunity to trade a burdensome mortgage for a manageable loan that reflects the market value of their home. This plan is focused on people. People decide if they need help, they apply for assistance and if approved the government under my HOME Program supports them in getting a new mortgage that they can afford. There will be qualifications which require the home to be a primary residence and the borrower able to afford a new mortgage. We will combine the power of government and the private sector to find immediate solutions for deserving American homeowners.
"My plan follows the sound economic principle that when markets decline dramatically, debts must be restructured. It is built on the reality that homeowners should have an equity capital stake in their home. Homeowners would end up with a 30-year mortgage and an equity stake in their home. The new lender would receive a federal guarantee of the mortgage. And the taxpayer gets a benefit if the sale value ever recovers."
[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/04/09/art.mccainrice.gi.jpg caption=" A McCain-Rice ticket could carry New York, a new poll says."](CNN) - Condoleezza Rice has said she has no desire to be John McCain's running mate, but a new poll out Wednesday suggests that duo could beat the Democratic ticket in the bluest of states.
In a new poll conducted by Marist College and WNBC, a McCain-Rice ticket would beat a ticket that includes both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama in New York - a state that reliably votes for the Democratic candidate. (In 2004, John Kerry beat President Bush there by nearly 20 points. In 2000, the margin between Al Gore and Bush was an even higher 25 points.)
But should McCain and Rice team up, the poll suggests the two Republicans would carry New York, defeating a Clinton-Obama ticket by 3 points (49-46 percent) and an Obama-Clinton ticket by 5 points (49-44 percent.)
The poll comes days after a leading Republican strategist suggested Rice, contrary to her own public statements, is engaging in a behind-the-scenes campaign to land a spot on McCain's ticket. Former Bush administration official Dan Senor made the suggestion on ABC Sunday, noting Rice's recent appearance at the weekly meeting of Americans for Tax Reform - a leading organization of Republican insiders - as evidence she is attempting to cozy up to the conservative elite.
That suggestion immediately had Beltway insiders speculating on the potential advantages Rice would deliver, especially in light of the fact the Democratic presidential ticket will either feature a woman or an African-American for the first time in American history.
Rice herself attempted to put the speculation to rest Tuesday, saying, "I very much look forward to watching this campaign and voting as a voter - I have a lot of work to do and then I'll happily go back to Stanford."
But with polls like this, it's likely some Republicans hope she reconsiders.
Compiled by Jonathan Helman
CNN Washington Bureau
WSJ: Clinton and Obama Vie for Women Of Philadelphia Suburbs
With polls showing a closer Democratic contest in Pennsylvania, both candidates have stepped up efforts to court a prized constituency: the young, college-educated women who reside in the suburbs of Philadelphia.
NY Daily News: McCain To Be Latest Candidate To Court Mayor Bloomberg
Having ended his own presidential musings, Mayor Bloomberg is trying to position himself as the post-partisan mayor that every White House hopeful – Democrat and Republican alike – must now woo. Thursday it will be Sen. John McCain, who is expected to make nice with Bloomberg at a business roundtable that the Republican presidential candidate is convening in Brooklyn.
Chicago Tribune: McCain: No Preemptive War Pledge
Sen. John McCain, facing criticism from Democratic opponents that his election as president represents a third term for President Bush, said today that he could not rule out a pre-emptive military strike against enemies such as the one that Bush launched against Iraq.
Boston Globe: Stumping In Pa., Democrats Push Their Iraq Strategies
Following on the Iraq war debate on Capitol Hill on Tuesday, the Democratic presidential hopefuls took the issue yesterday to Pennsylvania, site of the next nomination showdown.
Compiled by Jonathan Helman, CNN Washington Bureau
*Hillary Clinton attends the Alleghany County Jefferson-Jackson Dinner in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
*John McCain participates in a small business roundtable in Brooklyn, New York and attends a finance event in Dallas, Texas.
*Barack Obama attends town hall meetings in Gary and Lafayette, Indiana.