Clinton, Romney capture notable endorsements
Hillary Clinton and Mitt Romney each picked up high-profile endorsements yesterday.
Clinton announced the support of Robert F. Kennedy Jr., an environmental activist and son of Robert F. Kennedy, the US senator from New York who was about to win the Democratic presidential nomination when he was assassinated in 1968.
"Hillary Clinton has the strength and experience to bring the war in Iraq to an end and reverse the potentially devastating effects of global warming," Kennedy said in a statement issued by the Clinton campaign. "I watched proudly as Hillary won over New Yorkers across the state in her race for the Senate seat my father once held."
Clinton also won the endorsement yesterday of the 180,000-member Amalgamated Transit Union, promising more on-the-ground help in Iowa, New Hampshire, and other early-voting states.
Romney captured the support of David A. Keene, who is president of the American Conservative Union.
Keene is a major figure in conservative circles and should help reassure those skeptical of the former Massachusetts governor's move to the right leading up to his presidential bid.
In a statement issued by the Romney campaign, Keene said that "while I certainly can't pretend to speak for all or even most conservatives, the road that led me here today is one that many conservatives find themselves on and it is my hope that they will end up where I am today - convinced that Mitt Romney represents our best hope for 2008."
The ad - a shorter version of which was shown during the CNN/YouTube debate - questions the conservative bona fides of Mitt Romney, Mike Huckabee, and former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani.
Perhaps the most direct assault of any ad of the GOP campaign, it represents a tougher tack by Thompson, the actor and former US senator from Tennessee, who jumped into the race late and whose candidacy has been rather underwhelming.
The ad features clips of Romney supporting abortion rights during his unsuccessful 1994 campaign against Senator Edward M. Kennedy and during his winning 2002 run for governor.
There are also clips of Huckabee supporting tax increases as governor of Arkansas, and of Giuliani endorsing Democrat Mario Cuomo for New York governor in 1994 and criticizing the National Rifle Association.
Then, the ad shows a series of testimonials for Thompson and says that for Republicans to win the White House next year, they have to stick to conservative principles.
Via a YouTube video, retired Brigadier General Keith H. Kerr of Santa Rosa, Calif., asked a question criticizing the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy for homosexuals, and was invited to the theater in St. Petersburg, Fla., to pose a followup question.
He is on volunteer committees of veterans and of gays and lesbians who support Clinton.
The Clinton campaign said Kerr does not work for the campaign and was not acting on its behalf.
"We regret this and apologize to the Republican candidates," David Bohrman, CNN senior vice president and executive producer of debate, said in a statement that was posted on CNN's political website. "We never would have used the general's question had we known that he was connected to any presidential candidate."
CNN said that before the debate it verified his military background and that he had not given any money to presidential candidates.
CNN was more broadly criticized yesterday by Republican activists and bloggers, who accused the network of liberal bias because the debate emphasized gays, guns, and religion and included a question on the Confederate flag, when there were about 5,000 queries submitted.