NEW YORK — Democrat Hillary Rodham Clinton has won the endorsement of film producer and director Steven Spielberg, ending a tug-of-war between Clinton and Barack Obama for the Hollywood heavyweight's affections.
"I've taken the time to familiarize myself with the impressive field of Democratic candidates and am convinced that Hillary Clinton is the most qualified candidate to lead us from her first day in the White House," Spielberg said Wednesday in a statement released by the Clinton campaign.
Spielberg has been a supporter and contributor to Clinton in the past, but his support for her presidential bid wasn't always certain. In February, he co-hosted a Beverly Hills fundraiser for Obama with his DreamWorks production partners David Geffen and Jeffrey Katzenberg that brought in more than $1.3 million. Katzenberg is backing Obama, as is Geffen, a former Clinton ally turned critic.
Spielberg has directed some of Hollywood's most admired films, including "Jaws," "E.T. The Extraterrestrial," "Jurassic Park," "Schindler's List" and "Saving Private Ryan."
NEW YORK (AP) _ A former Republican senator from Rudy Giuliani's home state says he is unhappy with the GOP presidential field and is backing Fred Thompson, who hasn't officially entered the race.
Sen. Alfonse D'Amato announced he is supporting his former Senate colleague, an actor-politician who has formed a presidential exploratory committee and is expected to launch a campaign this summer.
"Voters are tired of the rhetoric and are thirsting for leadership," D'Amato said in a statement Wednesday. "Fred Thompson is the kind of candidate our party can unify behind and support wholeheartedly."
Relations between D'Amato and Giuliani have been chilly for years, and D'Amato had been one of the last high-profile Republican holdouts in the state who haven't backed the former mayor.
Another is Giuliani's successor, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who says he won't endorse anyone in the 2008 race for fear of ruffling feathers. The billionaire is also being urged by his supporters to make an independent run.
LAS VEGAS (AP) _ The wife of Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama said Wednesday that working women in the U.S. are struggling to keep their heads above water.
Describing herself as a sort of American everywomen, Michelle Obama, the 43-year-old mother of two daughters, outlined her own attempts to juggle professional, family and household demands. Obama's children are ages 8 and 5.
"The toilet overflows, and who's the one who's got to rearrange her schedule to be there for the plumber? It's us!" Michelle Obama told about 175 cheering supporters at a "Women for Obama" gathering at a community center. "And to top it off, we have the added social pressure of being attractive, pleasant, caring, in shape.
"I'm tired just thinking about it."
"We are all at some level neglecting our physical, emotional and our spiritual well-being," she said, "because in the end society isn't giving us what we need to be, not just surviving, but thriving as women and families."
It was Michelle Obama's first stop in Nevada on behalf of her husband since the Illinois senator launched his presidential campaign. She said she's reduced her work as a hospital administrator to make time for travel.
Nevada is one of the early voting states with caucuses on Jan. 19.
Michelle Obama called for a "more focused domestic agenda" and mentioned her husband's plan to increase access to health care. But largely she called for broad social change and said her husband was the one who would deliver it.
"We need a man _ a person who happens to be a man _ who can connect with these issues and is ready to turn the page," she said.
AMES, Iowa (AP) _ Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee criticized the news media Wednesday for being more interested in the exploits of Britney Spears and Paris Hilton than in the nation's next leader.
Asked how he could break out of a pack of second-tier candidates, Huckabee complained about a lack of media attention.
"One of the frustrations is that there is more attention on Britney Spears getting out of a car without underwear than there is about who is going to be the next president," he said. "That is something that we as candidates don't control."
Huckabee, the former governor of Arkansas, met with reporters after touring a high-tech bioscience company in Ames. He acknowledged frustration that an inordinate amount of attention was given to leading GOP candidates Rudy Giuliani, John McCain and Mitt Romney.
What could he do to get in the media spotlight?
"Accompanying Paris Hilton to jail might work," Huckabee said.
WASHINGTON (AP) _ Republican presidential candidate Tommy Thompson said Wednesday he is going forward with his strategy of trying to use the Iowa straw poll to rally his campaign.
Thompson, a former Wisconsin governor and U.S. secretary of Health and Human Services, told reporters that he believes the straw poll will help him take his message to a national audience.
With top-tier candidates Rudy Giuliani and John McCain not participating, "it's clear that maybe the competitive landscape has changed _ or some people thought that it had," Thompson said. "But I sincerely believe that it has not. I think it's as important as it has ever been _ and probably more so."
But Thompson, one of several long-shot candidates hoping to break into the top tier, conceded that the poll has lost some of its luster without McCain and Giuliani, and he urged them to reconsider their decisions.
Still, he said, it will be a significant test for candidates.
"Whether there's only two of us participating, three, six, seven or eight _ it's going to be an event," he said, adding he hoped to finish first or second. "There's no doubt that the stakes are high," he added.
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) _ Rudy Giuliani and Mitt Romney have accepted an invitation to participate in a presidential debate in Iowa in August, just days before a Republican straw poll that the former New York mayor plans to skip.
The debate is planned for Aug. 5 in Des Moines. The Iowa straw poll, an early test of strength of the GOP candidates, is Aug. 11 in Ames. Giuliani and John McCain have bowed out of the straw poll, rendering it all but meaningless and virtually ensuring a win for Romney.
The participation of Giuliani and Romney in the debate is likely to ensure the involvement of other GOP candidates.
Associated Press writers Mike Glover in Des Moines, Iowa, Frederic J. Frommer in Washington, Kathleen Hennessey in Las Vegas and Michael R. Blood in Los Angeles contributed to this report.