WASHINGTON – A.M. Politics
— The New York Times reports that just months after winning a Senate seat in 2004, Illinois Sen. Barack Obama bought more than $50,000 of stock in companies whose investors included some of his political donors. One of the companies, which manufactured an avian flu vaccine, could have benefited from Obama's push for more federal funding to fight the disease. Obama's campaign put out a statement saying the senator wasn't aware that he'd purchased the stocks, which were selected by a broker under the terms of a newly instituted blind trust, and that when he heard about them the senator divested himself of the holdings at a loss of $13,000.
— Arizona Sen. John McCain's campaign is working behind the scenes to allow independent voters to participate in California's Republican primary, presuming that an influx of less ideological voters would help the former "insurgent candidate" and hurt one of his chief rivals, Mitt Romney, who scored high with conservatives at last week's CPAC. The Washington Times reports that McCain ally and former state GOP chairman Duff Sundheim has been quietly lobbying lawmakers for the rule change.
But McCain may have to look at his other side under that plan. Rudy Giuliani has always done well with independents as well and is leading McCain among California Republicans by nearly 20 points, 41 percent to 23 percent in the latest SurveyUSA poll. New York Sen. Hillary Clinton tops Barack Obama 44 percent to 31 percent, leading by 8 points among whites and 33 percent among Hispanics. Obama leads Clinton by 24 points among black voters.
— As for Giuliani, the former New York Mayor's strong second place showing at the Conservative Political Action Conference last week isn't necessarily a sign that conservatives love him — it's just that they don't particularly care for anyone else. The New York Observer reports on what the paper calls Rudy's "loveless marriage" with conservatives.
— Colorado congressman and long shot Republican candidate Tom Tancredo has received 100 cigars from supporters over the last two weeks — prompted by complaints to Capitol Police from his congressional neighbor, Minnesota Democratic Rep. Keith Ellison, about Tancredo's cigar smoking in his Longworth House Office Building. After consulting with the House ethics committee, The Hill reports Tancredo plans to keep the stogies. This weekend, he complained about Washington "lifestyle Nazis" who have banned smoking in public places.