Fred Thompson drops run

Faltering Republican Presidential candidate Fred Dalton Thompson is dropping out of the race after dismal showings in all primaries held to date. Thompson’s campaign began notifying news media Tuesday afternoon that a statement was imminent.

Thompson, in Tennessee to care for his ailing mother, did not appear himself to announce his withdrawal. Instead, a formal statement was sent out stating that Thompson was, in fact, dropping out.

The former Senator and actor entered the race amid loud hoopla that he was a conservative hope for the party, but his campaign never jelled.

Obama takes on the Clintons

Barack Obama wasn’t kidding when he said he would start speaking out more aggressively against the Clintons.

From his first answer at a highly acrimonious debate Monday night, the Illinois senator went after the first couple of Democratic politics with a tenacity he had not shown before in his campaign of hope. He drew quick return fire from Hillary Rodham Clinton, who is pointing her campaign toward Super Tuesday Feb. 5 when more than half the Democratic delegates are at stake.

Rudy trails on home turf

Former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani is trailing in the race for the Republican presidential nomination even on his home turf of New York state, a new poll showed on Monday.

The WNBC/Marist poll ahead of the February 5 primaries in New York showed 34 percent of registered Republicans support John McCain, compared to 23 percent for Giuliani. Among Republicans likely to vote, McCain kept his 34 percent support, while Giuliani was tied in second place with Mitt Romney at 19 percent.

McCain on the road in Florida

Republican John McCain wooed Cuban-American voters on Monday and banked on the support of their leaders to help his presidential campaign win the state that gave President George W. Bush his narrow victory in 2000.

McCain swept into Miami after his big win Saturday in South Carolina, the first contest in the U.S. South as voters choose candidates for the November presidential election. On January 29, Florida hold the next big Republican contest.

Huckabee cuts back on expenses

Battling to stay competitive after his weekend loss in South Carolina, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee is taking new steps to save money, including no longer scheduling planes and buses for journalists trying to cover his presidential campaign.

Huckabee said he will continue to campaign in Florida on a shoestring budget, but added that he may pull out of the state before its Jan. 29 Republican primary if his prospects look dim.

Democrats get down & dirty

Democratic presidential rivals Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama accused each other of repeatedly and deliberately distorting the truth for political gain Monday night in a highly personal, finger-wagging debate that ranged from the war in Iraq to Bill Clinton’s role in the campaign.

Obama told the former first lady he was helping unemployed workers on the streets of Chicago when “you were a corporate lawyer sitting on the board at Wal-Mart.”

Moments later, Clinton said that she was fighting against misguided Republican policies “when you were practicing law and representing your contributor … in his slum landlord business in inner city Chicago.”

Obama seemed particularly irritated at the former president, whom he accused in absentia of uttering a series of distortions to aid his wife’s presidential effort.

“I’m here. He’s not,” she snapped.

Americans abroad can vote on-line

This year, for the first time, expatriate Democrats can cast their ballots on the Internet in a presidential primary for people living outside the United States.

Democrats Abroad, an official branch of the party representing overseas voters, will hold its first global presidential preference primary from Feb. 5 to 12, with ex-pats selecting the candidate of their choice by Internet as well as fax, mail and in-person at polling places in more than 100 countries.

Luck vs. experience

Much has been made in the Democratic presidential campaign of “experience” — Hillary Rodham Clinton’s versus Barack Obama’s.

From the biographer’s and historian’s perspectives this is an interesting point. Clinton’s first political experience was as a Young Republican, then as a student activist alongside her boyfriend at Yale Law School, Democrat Bill Clinton. Following him to Fayetteville, she taught law at the University of Arkansas and then became a corporate lawyer, once he stood for Arkansas attorney general and governor.

Time for a meaningful election?

Each GOP primary produces a new winner, none of them the longtime national frontrunner. Meanwhile, the Democrats feature a tight race between an African-American and a woman — pure history in the making. It can’t get any better than that, the upshot being I might actually cast a ballot that matters for the first time in my life!

Hillary has momentum now

Political momentum now shifted her way, Democrat Hillary Rodham Clinton flew to Missouri, a key Feb. 5 battleground state, while rival Barack Obama hoped to rejuvenate his candidacy with the help of black voters in the South.

“Now we’re back here in the Midwest, where I’m from. I’m so happy to see all of you,” Clinton, a Chicago native, said to cheers at a campaign rally late Saturday in this St. Louis suburb.