Clinton on Russian leader: ‘Whatever’

U.S. Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton, who has argued she would be stronger on foreign policy than rival Barack Obama, stumbled over the name of the likely new Russian president on Tuesday while predicting he would not be an independent leader.

When asked at a debate whether she knew the name of the certain successor to President Vladimir Putin — Dmitry Medvedev — Clinton struggled to get it out.

“Medvedev — whatever,” she finally said.

Obama, who fielded a second question on the issue, did not pronounce the name.

Debate unlikely to change anything

Democrats Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama are making their final pitches to voters in Ohio and Texas, must-win contests for Clinton, after a mostly somber and policy-filled debate that seemed unlikely to alter the political calculus of the race.

In sometimes testy exchanges, the two sparred over health care, the war in Iraq and trade, particularly the North American Free Trade Agreement which was negotiated in her husband’s first term — but is seen by labor and other critics as a chief culprit in the loss of manufacturing jobs in Ohio and other industrial Midwestern states.

Time to close the deal

By now we are all on a first-name basis. Hillary and Barack have joined us in our living rooms night after night, hoping to close the deal in very different ways.

Barack Obama has steadily pushed his optimistic one-word theme: “Change.”

Fact-checking the debate

Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama are paying a price for artful dodges on trade over the years, a burden on display in their debate Tuesday night.

Thanks to past equivocations, the Democratic presidential candidates have left themselves open to the criticisms and misrepresentations they are now using against each other as they scramble to dissociate themselves from a trade agreement they once praised — with qualifications.

A polite but pointed showdown in Ohio

Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama clashed over trade, health care and the war in Iraq Tuesday night in a crackling debate at close quarters one week before a pivotal group of primaries.

Charges of negative campaign tactics were high on the program, too.

Clinton said Obama’s campaign had recently sent out mass mailings with false information about her health care proposal, adding, “it is almost as though the health insurance companies and the Republicans wrote it.”

When it was his turn to speak, Obama said Clinton’s campaign has “constantly sent out negative attacks on us … We haven’t whined about it because I understand that’s the nature of these campaigns.”

McCain denounces racist comments

Republican John McCain quickly denounced the comments of a radio talk show host who while warming up a campaign crowd referred repeatedly to Barack Hussein Obama and called the Democratic presidential candidate a “hack, Chicago-style” politician.

Hussein is Obama’s middle name, but talk show host Bill Cunningham used it three times as he addressed the crowd before the likely Republican nominee’s appearance.

Sen. Chris Dodd plans to endorse Obama

Former Democratic presidential hopeful Chris Dodd will endorse Barack Obama in his bid for the White House on Tuesday, a source close to the Obama campaign said.

Dodd, a U.S. senator from Connecticut, dropped out of the race for the Democratic presidential nomination in early January after placing sixth in the Iowa caucuses, the first nominating contest in the nation.

Obama, a senator from Illinois, and rival Hillary Clinton, a senator from New York and former first lady, are now battling for the nomination.

Clinton heads into last-chance debate

Faltering Democrat Hillary Clinton Tuesday faced one of her last chances to derail Barack Obama’s presidential express train at their final debate before make-or-break nominating contests next week.

After a day of running battles Monday, Obama headed into the televised debate in Cleveland, Ohio buoyed by new polls suggesting his rival senator’s national support was collapsing.

One of the polls by CBS News and the New York Times gave the Illinois senator a 16-point lead over Clinton among Democrats nationwide, 54 percent to 38 percent.

Obama’s momentum increases

Barack Obama has taken clear leads over Hillary Rodham Clinton among white men, middle-income earners and liberals, allowing him to catch his faltering rival in their race for the Democratic presidential nomination, a national poll showed Monday.

Democrats see a train wreck coming

Remember the political teeth-gnashing eight years ago when Democrat Al Gore won the popular vote for president only to lose to Republican George W. Bush in the Electoral College after weeks of disputed vote-counting in Florida and contradictory decisions by the Florida and U.S. supreme courts?