Today on the Presidential Campaign Trail
AP/M. SPENCER GREEN
AP/M. SPENCER GREEN
IN THE HEADLINES
Rice slams Huckabee criticism of Bush 'bunker mentality' foreign policy ... Edwards says his supporters will caucus ... Clinton appeals to female, independent voters in NH ... Obama as bad Santa in liberal group's ad.... Romney rails against earmarks in budget deal ... Tancredo aide backs Thompson's candidacy ... Judge tosses out part of suit against Huckabee over Arkansas hard drives
Rice rejects Huckabee criticism
WASHINGTON (AP) _ In a brief foray into politics, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on Friday denounced comments by Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee that the Bush administration's foreign policy is arrogant and unilateral.
"The idea that somehow this is a go-it-alone policy is just simply ludicrous," she said at a State Department news conference. "One would only have to be not observing the facts, let me say that, to say that this is now a go-it-alone foreign policy."
Her remarks came in response to a question about criticism from Huckabee, who has surged in the polls to become a front-runner in the upcoming Iowa caucuses for the GOP presidential nomination. Huckabee recently said the administration's foreign policy was characterized by a "bunker mentality."
Rice did not mention Huckabee by name in her response and at first declined to respond, saying dismissively: "Look, I don't comment on other people's comments. I don't have time, all right. I really don't have time to worry about this."
Edwards: 'My people will be there'
JOHNSTON, Iowa (AP) _ Democrat John Edwards, locked in a tight race in the state's leadoff caucuses, said his experience in the last Iowa contest gives him an edge with voters in the closing days.
"They're looking for energy and passion and focus and that's what they're going to get from me," said Edwards, who took a swipe at leading rivals Barack Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton, suggesting they are running far more cerebral campaigns that lack the kind of energy that his campaign offers.
"Having been through this before, I know what you have to do, I know what you have to do to close and what Iowa caucus-goers are looking for," said Edwards, who finished second to John Kerry in 2004. "They're not looking for academic, they're not looking for analytical, they're looking for somebody who speaks from right here, from their gut, and who believes deeply and passionately in what they're talking about."
Edwards spoke during a taping of Iowa Public Television's "Iowa Press" program airing later in the weekend, assessing a race that virtually all polls show is a virtual dead heat less than two weeks before activists launch the presidential nominating season on Jan. 3.
Roughly 124,000 Democratic activists showed up in 2004, and Edwards declined to predict turnout this time, but did offer one view.
"What I know is my people will be at the caucus," said Edwards. "If you come to my events, they look like caucus-goers. My people are strongly for me, that's what I know."
Clinton builds on support in NH
CONCORD, N.H. (AP) _ Democrat Hillary Rodham Clinton sought to shore up support among independent and female voters on Friday, attempting to maintain a strength in those blocs with her biography and testimonials from registered Republicans.
Clinton, in a tight race with Sen. Barack Obama, planned to spend the day telling New Hampshire voters how she reached across party lines and produced results _ echoing television ads already on the air. The New York senator brought along her mother Dorothy Rodham, daughter Chelsea Clinton and other well-known female supporters during a two-day swing in New Hampshire.
She also dispatched supporters to vouch for her record and soften the sometimes harsh public caricature that has frustrated her front-runner campaign.
"This is a person who can reach common ground and never compromise her principles," said Jeff Volk, a Republican from New York, telling the story of being stuck in New Orleans when Hurricane Katrina hit there. He has given the maximum of $2,300 to Clinton's campaign and $5,000 to Clinton's political action committee in 2007.
The latest New Hampshire survey, conducted by USA Today/Gallup Poll, shows Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama in a dead heat among likely Democratic voters 2 1/2 weeks before New Hampshire's Jan. 8 primary.
Liberal group hits Obama in ad
WASHINGTON (AP) _ A liberal activist group that targeted Hillary Rodham Clinton in a cable television ad earlier this month is now going after Barack Obama, depicting him as a bad Santa delivering coal to Iowa voters.
The group, Democratic Courage, plans to air the ad in Iowa during the holiday season, though it's unclear how many people will see it. Democratic Courage president Glenn Hurowitz said the group was still working out details on the size of the ad. The group spent a mere $2,500 on its Clinton ad buy.
In the ad, an announcer criticizes Obama's votes in favor of a 2005 energy bill as well as a vote against an amendment that would have limited the amount of interest charged on any extension of credit to 30 percent. Obama voted with 18 other Democrats and all of the Senate Republican to defeat that amendment.
The ad also echoes criticism leveled by Clinton and Democrat John Edwards against Obama's health care plan, claiming it would leave "millions out in the cold." Obama's health proposal does not include a requirement that workers obtain health insurance, like Clinton and Edwards do.
Hurowtiz, who supports Edwards, said Democratic Courage has not endorsed a candidate but said Edwards is someone they would consider as a "progressive, courageous and winning alternative."
Democratic Courage is a political action committee, financed by contributions of no more than $5,000 per person.
Romney rails against earmarks in budget
BOSTON (AP) _ Republican Mitt Romney, in a statement likely to be well received by fiscal conservatives in early voting Iowa and New Hampshire, on Friday criticized a $555 billion budget deal approved by Congress this week for including thousands of earmarks for legislative projects.
"This is exactly the type of fiscal irresponsibility that the American people have demanded that those in Washington end. Yet, this bill brings the total number of earmarks Congress has approved this year to nearly 11,900 earmarks," said the former Massachusetts governor.
Romney applauded President Bush, a fellow Republican, for pledging to use executive authority to examine the budget deal and see if he can rescind some of the spending. The president, however, lacks the line-item veto, which would allow him to excise individual spending.
Romney said: "As president, I pledge to use every available method to eliminate wasteful earmarks in the federal budget. One such tool is returning to the president the power to make line-item vetoes. Change in Washington begins when we change the culture that allows earmarks, pet projects and wasteful spending to thrive in the place of being good fiscal stewards of the taxpayers' money."
Thompson counters Tancredo endorsement
WASHINGTON (AP) _ Competing for the anti-illegal immigration vote, Republican presidential hopeful Fred Thompson on Friday announced the backing of an aide to conservative Rep. Tom Tancredo, although Tancredo has endorsed rival Mitt Romney.
Bill Salier, the Iowa campaign chairman for Tancredo and a failed Senate candidate in 2002, called Thompson the best candidate to stop illegal immigration.
Tancredo, who built his long-shot presidential campaign on opposition to illegal immigration, dropped out of the race on Thursday and endorsed Mitt Romney.
"We must beef up our border control," Thompson told a crowd at a coffee shop in Sioux City. "We must say to employers, 'You have to obey the law.'"
Judge rejects part of suit on Huckabee
LITTLE ROCK (AP) _ A judge on Friday rejected part of a lawsuit requesting that Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee turn over backup tapes from computer hard drives he ordered destroyed before leaving the Arkansas governor's office.
Pulaski County Circuit Judge Timothy Fox denied Jim Parsons' Freedom of Information Act claim against Huckabee, but did not rule on the rest of Parsons' lawsuit that alleges Huckabee illegally used government money to crush the hard drives _ and to help the Mexican government locate a consulate in Little Rock.
During a brief hearing, Parsons, a self-described gadfly from Bella Vista, asked the court to order Huckabee to provide the state backup tapes that held some of the files destroyed when Huckabee left office in January.
Huckabee has defended destroying the hard drives, saying they contained employee and constituent Social Security numbers and credit card information. Kevin Crass, an attorney for Huckabee, said he was pleased with the judge's ruling.
Sens. Barack Obama of Illinois, Joe Biden of Delaware and Chris Dodd of Connecticut talk to voters in Iowa. New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson and former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards also have events in the early voting state.
Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York meets with voters at several events in New Hampshire.
Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and former Tennessee Sen. Fred Thompson campaign in Iowa.
Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney holds a town hall meeting in New Hampshire.
QUOTE OF THE DAY:
"The idea that somehow this is a go-it-alone policy is just simply ludicrous." _ Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, responding to a question about criticism from Republican Mike Huckabee, who recently said the administration's foreign policy was characterized by a "bunker mentality."
STAT OF THE DAY:
Of the estimated 216 million people of voting age in the 2004 presidential election, 32 million were not U.S. citizens at birth, according to the Census Bureau.
Compiled by Ann Sanner.
Copyright © 2007 The Seattle Times Company
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