WASHINGTON – A.M. Politics
— GOP candidates have disavowed comments made by conservative columnist and author Ann Coulter, who told an audience at the Conservative Political Action Conference on Friday, "I was going to have a few comments about the other Democratic nominee, John Edwards, but it turns out that you have to go into rehab if you use the word 'faggot.'"
Edwards, the former North Carolina senator running for a second time for president, is using Coulter's remark to raise money, asking visitors to his Web site to "help us raise $100,000 in 'Coulter Cash' this week to keep this campaign charging ahead and fight back against the politics of bigotry." Edwards also called Coulter's remarks "hateful, selfish, (and) childish," saying, "We can't stand silently by and allow this kind of language to be used"
FLASHBACK: Last July, Coulter received some criticism for similar remarks, first saying that Bill Clinton shows "some level of latent homosexuality," then answering questions about her comment by telling MSNBC "I don't know if he's gay. But Al Gore — total fag."
— Sens. Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton appealed to black voters in Selma, Ala., on Sunday, on the anniversary of a police beating of black marchers. Speaking at Brown Chapel AME Church, where the ill-fated march started on March 7, 1965, Obama asked: "How can it be that our voting rates dropped down to 30, 40, 50 percent when people shed their blood to allow us to vote?"
Sen. Clinton spoke at another church three blocks away, earning five standing ovations for her remarks. She then joined Obama for the anniversary march across the Edmund Pettus bridge - where her husband, former president Bill Clinton, was inducted into the National Voting Rights Museum Hall of Fame.
Meanwhile, Obama supporter and Alabama Rep. Artur Davis took a shot at Clinton, telling the audience that while Obama may not have the longevity of some of his rivals, "Longevity can make you too cautious. It can make you calculate when you cast your vote on a war."
— The New York Post reports that Clinton officials are furious with Gov. Eliot Spitzer for not endorsing the senator, but also notes that Spitzer supports moving up the New York presidential primary to Feb. 5 to help Clinton's chances at winning the Democratic nomination.
— New York Rep. Charlie Rangel told "FOX News Sunday" that he's backing Clinton in 2008, but he did encourage Obama to run against her. "He's young. He's dynamic. And if he doesn't succeed, he gets another opportunity to run for it. But I told him that if he didn't run, he would hate himself for not testing the waters."
— The New York Times, in yet another story on the Clinton-Obama battle for black votes, reports that African-American leaders remain conflicted over which candidate to support.
— Edwards on Sunday was in Berkeley, Calif., not Alabama, but stayed with the civil rights theme, calling school janitors' push for better wages part of the long history of civil rights battles.
— Separately, Edwards is sending 70,000 DVDs touting his health care plan to Iowa households this week. Edwards plays up the level of detail in his plan compared to those of his rivals, saying, "I’m actually very proud of the fact that I was the first presidential candidate to lay out a detailed, substantive, truly universal health care plan."
— After trouncing rival Arizona Sen. John McCain in a Newsweek poll on Saturday, Rudy Giuliani received more good news in Oregon, winning a GOP straw poll in Dorchester. However, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney earned the support of Oregon's party chairman, and McCain has Sen. Gordon Smith in his corner.
— Romney won the straw poll at CPAC in Washington on Saturday, earning the support of 21 percent of those attending. The buzz at CPAC on Thursday and Friday was that the Romney campaign had carted in supporters by the busload in order to ensure a good reception for Romney's address and to ensure a vital straw poll victory — boosting Romney's credibility among conservatives in his bid to be the most conservative of the top tier Republican candidates.
— New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg is meeting with pollsters and consultants to assess his chances at winning the White House as an independent candidate. Political adviser Kevin Sheekey told Newsweek: "There is no Bloomberg campaign. But we have certainly reached out." Sheekey adds that whether he runs "depends on who the nominees are for the two major parties, and how much cash Bloomberg is willing to spend."