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Clinton asks YouTube users for song help

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Hillary Clinton wants YouTube viewers to pick her campaign theme song — and the response, so far, has been music to her ears.

In a clear appeal to young voters, a YouTube video asks viewers to vote for Clinton's presidential campaign theme song on her Web site. The contest started May 16 and the number of songs was narrowed to 10 on Thursday — five initially suggested by the campaign and five write-in candidates.

They range from U2's "Beautiful Day" to Smash Mouth's version of "I'm a Believer" to Celine Dion's "You and I."

"I want to know what you're thinking on one of the most important questions of this campaign," Clinton said in a mock-serious tone during the initial video. "It's something we've been struggling with, debating, agonizing over for months. So now I'm turning to you, the American people."

According to the view counter on YouTube, the May 16 video had more than 500,000 views; a more recent post was seen by more than 40,000. Her campaign said it received more than 130,000 votes in the first round. It promises to release the final result "in the coming days."

In both videos Clinton sports a self-effacing attitude. She mocked her vocal abilities in the first post. The second features clips of people saying, "This is ridiculous" and "Are you freaking kidding me?" in response to the contest, along with Clinton making fun of some of the videos submitted.

"A little self-effacement in her recipe of self-presentation is probably a good idea," Robert Thompson, professor of television and popular culture at Syracuse University, said. "There is a certain sense of over-calculation."

Thompson said the request for help selecting a theme song is not unusual for Clinton, who preceded her 2000 run for the Senate with a "listening tour." This is just taking that concept and putting it online, he added.

"I'd rather have a candidate ask me what I think about major issues," Thompson said. "The way it's being used is: Let's have you guys come and tell me what's the best way to package myself to sell myself to you."

He described the technique as having "a slight ickyness to it."

But Kathleen Hall Jamieson, who directs the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania, said any way candidates can engage potential voters, especially young people, at this stage is good.

"If they don't know who you who you are, they're not going to go out and vote for you," she said.

The five suggested songs that got the most votes:

_"Suddenly I See," KT Tunstall

_"Rock This Country!" Shania Twain

_"Beautiful Day," U2

_"Get Ready," The Temptations

_"I'm a Believer," Smash Mouth

The top write-in suggestions are:

_"Are You Gonna Go My Way," Lenny Kravitz

_"Ain't No Stoppin' Us Now," McFadden & Whitehead

_"Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic," The Police

_"You and I," Celine Dion

_"The Best," Tina Turner

Giuliani, Edwards report income

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By JIM KUHNHENN, Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON — Republican presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani reported a whopping $16.1 million in earned income over the past 16 months, most of it in speaking fees, according to financial documents filed Wednesday.

Democratic hopeful John Edwards reported earned income of $1.25 million, the biggest single source of which was a hedge fund that employed him part time. He and his wife, Elizabeth, reported $29.5 million in assets, including millions invested in the hedge fund — the Fortress Investment Group.

Giuliani’s report provides the first detailed picture of his vast holdings and income since his term as mayor of New York ended more than five years ago. Since then, Giuliani parlayed his image as an in-charge mayor during the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks into lucrative speaking fees and business enterprises.

He reported $13 million to $45 million in assets, including his share in Giuliani & Co., a partnership that provides an array of consulting services. He also listed income from dividends and interest on many of those investments of at least $411,332 and as much as $3.3 million.

The reports were part of a flurry released Wednesday by the Federal Election Commission. The deadline for filing was Tuesday, though several candidates received 45-day extensions, including Democrat Hillary Clinton, and Republicans Mitt Romney, John McCain and Tommy Thompson. Republican Jim Gilmore asked for and received a 30-day grace period.


Romney says voters will accept a Mormon

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WASHINGTON - Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney says he also is troubled by the Mormon church's past practice of polygamy, but that he can overcome voter concern about his religion.

"What's at the heart of my faith is a belief that there's a creator, that we're all children of the same God and that fundamentally the relationship you have with your spouse is important and eternal," he said Sunday on CBS' "60 minutes."

But the former Massachusetts governor acknowledged that "there's part of the history of the church's past that I understand is troubling to people."

"Look, the polygamy, which was outlawed in our church in the 1800s, that's troubling to me," he said. "I have a great-great grandfather. They were trying to build a generation out there in the desert. And so he took additional wives as he was told to do. And I must admit, I can't imagine anything more awful than polygamy."

Romney, who has five sons with his wife of 38 years, says he was worried he might lose her to somebody else when he left his Michigan high school sweetheart behind in college while he did two years of missionary work in France.

Read full story here.

Giuliani hits some bumps in 2008 race

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - After months of flying high in the 2008 White House race, Republican Rudolph Giuliani has hit turbulence over his support for abortion rights and his dip in some opinion polls.

Giuliani, the former New York mayor often praised for his leadership after the September 11 attacks, has been hammered by conservatives for his abortion stance and his tortured efforts to explain his long-held views in a debate last week.

The criticism grew with news that Giuliani donated in the 1990s to Planned Parenthood a leading provider of reproductive services, including abortion.

The controversies developed as national polls showed Giuliani’s once-substantial lead among Republicans shrinking in the early going leading to the November 2008 election. Polls in some key early-voting states showed him trailing top rivals like Arizona Sen. John McCain (news, bio, voting record) and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.

“There are always going to be ups and downs for a front-runner — and Rudy is experiencing some of the downs,” pollster John Zogby said.

The conservatives who often dominate early Republican nominating contests have doubted Giuliani from the start because of his views on social issues, particularly his support for abortion rights.

He exacerbated those doubts at last week’s debate with an ambivalent answer to the question of whether the Supreme Court decision outlawing abortion should be overturned, saying it would be “OK” if it was repealed and also all right if it was upheld.

“I hate abortion,” Giuliani said. “But ultimately, since it is an issue of conscience, I would respect a woman’s right to make a different choice.”


His answers opened a flood of criticism from conservatives and prompted McCain, an abortion rights foe, to say a candidate who supported abortion rights would have a hard time winning the party nomination.

Republican consultant Rich Galen said Giuliani’s abortion stance was not necessarily a deal-breaker for Republicans.

“Most people are not single-issue abortion voters, no matter what McCain says,” Galen said. “Nobody has ever tested the idea that you can’t win the Republican nomination unless you are pro-life.”

Giuliani adviser Jim Dyke said the former mayor would talk more about abortion in coming weeks to make his views more clear. On the campaign trail, Giuliani often promises to appoint “strict constructionist” federal judges who will evaluate laws without legislating, and let them rule on the issue.

“You can’t fit it in a sound bite and you can’t put it on a bumper sticker,” Dyke said of Giuliani’s abortion position.

Giuliani’s once formidable lead in national polls, which reached 20 points or more over second-place McCain, has dwindled in recent weeks. A CNN poll released on Monday showed him with a 2-point advantage, although other polls give him a national lead of between 7 and 14 percentage points.

Most of the change came from Giuliani drifting back toward the pack rather than a rival charging ahead. Zogby said the silver lining for Giuliani was that none of the other nine Republican candidates were gaining strength.

“Even as Rudy’s numbers are going down, nobody’s else’s numbers are really going up on the Republican side,” he said. “There is still plenty of room for movement.”

Giuliani trails McCain in the crucial early voting states of Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina that are likely to have great influence over the race’s outcome. Giuliani trails both Romney and McCain in most New Hampshire polls.

“This is what you normally see in October or November of the year before a presidential election,” pollster Dick Bennett of American Research Group said. “Things are happening much quicker this year.”

Maryland governor endorses Clinton

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Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley on Wednesday endorsed New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton for president and was named state chairman for Clinton's campaign.

"No one is better equipped to repair America's alliances abroad and address the urgent needs of our communities at home," O'Malley said.

Clinton praised the governor for signing the nation's first statewide living wage law on Tuesday, a measure that requires state contractors to pay at least $8.50 to workers and $11.30 in parts of Maryland such as Baltimore and the Washington suburbs where it is more expensive to live.

Maryland is a strong Democratic state. Last year, O'Malley defeated Republican Robert Ehrlich, who was the first GOP governor of Maryland in 36 years. Clinton came to Maryland during that campaign to help raise money and build enthusiasm for O'Malley and other Maryland candidates.

Democrats' 2008 electoral edge in doubt

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The races for both parties' presidential nominations are showing signs of tightening. Yet a closer look at the numbers also reveals intriguing crosscurrents that raise questions about how solid the presumed Democratic advantage may be in November 2008.

Surveys show that people would clearly prefer that the Democratic Party win the White House next year, which political operatives and analysts attribute to the deep unpopularity of President Bush and the war in Iraq and a broad desire for change.

When top Republican and Democratic candidates are paired, however, the GOP hopefuls generally do quite well or at least hold their own.

Next year's Election Day is eons away in political time, and many things could happen to alter today's dynamics. For now, the surveys leave it unclear whether the apparent Democratic edge would really hold up should GOP candidates with moderate credentials like Rudy Giuliani or John McCain face Democrats such as Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.

Obama's `Youth Mojo' Sparks Student Activism, Fueling Campaign

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When John Kerry sought the Democratic nomination in the last presidential election, his biggest Iowa crowd before the state caucuses was about 1,500 people. At a University of Iowa rally last month, Barack Obama drew 10,000 -- many of them students.

The Illinois senator's candidacy has helped spark a surge in campus activism that he has moved quickly to harness, establishing 300 college chapters and working with students to organize many of his largest rallies.

The ferment may be unparalleled since 1968, when young voters rallied behind Senator Eugene McCarthy and his anti- Vietnam War platform, said David Rosenfeld, campus program director for the Student Public Interest Research Group, which encourages campus activism.

``It's a generation that was already civically minded,'' Rosenfeld said, citing a series of close elections that have piqued student interest, debate over Iraq and the growth of online technology. ``Obama, who is charismatic and has some kind of youth mojo thing going on, steps up, and the thing takes off.''

Obama's strategy is visible on the Internet, where at least 325,000 young people have signed on to his biggest support network on Facebook.com. That far outpaces support for his main rival for the Democratic nomination, Senator Hillary Clinton.

View full story here.

Republican recent election 2008 polls: Giuliani 30% McCain 14% Thompson 14%

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Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani remains on top in the race for the GOP nomination and now enjoys support from 30% of Likely Voters. That's more than twice the total of any other candidate. Former Tennessee Senator Fred Thompson and Arizona Senator John McCain are tied for second at 14%.

Thompson has been in the 12% to 14% range for each of the five surveys since his name was floated as a possible candidate.

McCain, once considered the dominant frontrunner, has struggled in recent months. His support among Likely GOP Primary voters has fallen eight percentage points since January. His numbers now are strongest among independents likely to vote in a Republican Primary. In Election 2000, McCain did best in open primaries that allowed independents to vote. Then Governor Bush did best in Primary states where only Republicans could vote.

Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney remains the only other candidate in double digits. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich remains in fifth place with 8% support.

Giuliani is the most popular candidate in either party--62% now have a favorable opinion of him. McCain's favorability ratings among all voters have also fallen to the lowest level yet measured--49%. Thompson and Romney are less well known, viewed favorably by 35% and 32% respectively. See updated favorability ratings and general election match-ups for all Republican and Democratic candidates.

Among all voters, 44% now see John McCain as politically conservative. That's a significant increase from 26% in December. What's truly unusual about perceptions of the Arizona Senator is how consistent they are across party lines. Forty-four percent (44%) of Republicans view him as politically conservative. That view is shared by 45% of Democrats and 43% of those not affiliated with either major party.

Read full story here.