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The Situation: Tuesday, October 11

Editor's Note: The Situation Report is a running log of dispatches, quotes, links and behind-the-scenes notes filed by the correspondents and producers of CNN's Washington Bureau. Watch "The Situation Room" with Wolf Blitzer on CNN 3 p.m. ET to 6 p.m. ET weekdays.

The Morning Grind





George W. Bush
Capitol Hill
Harriet Miers

Posted: 9:15 a.m. ET
From Molly Levinson, CNN Political Unit


A good lesson today for all of those first-year law students out there aspiring to be U.S. Supreme Court Justices: Take a look at some of the headlines in the papers today and take heed -- whatever you write on those Hallmark cards can and will be printed in the New York Times, whether it's "cool" or not.

While, in the case of Chief Justice John Roberts, we saw his opinions and advice regarding policy and law within the thousands of pages of papers released after his nomination, today we see from the newspapers and the AP that Harriet Miers wrote some really thoughtful birthday notes to then-Governor George W. Bush.

For example: "Dear Governor GWB, You are the best Governor ever--deserving of great respect!...At least for thirty days -- you are not younger than me."

The Grind caught up with a senior Democratic Senate aide last night to find out if there was anything Dems found interesting in the dribs and drabs of detail that came out. "No," was the answer. Then, after a pause, "Best Governor ever?" We will continue to pour through the pages in search of a better understanding of Ms. Miers.

Conservative grousing over Mr. Bush's nomination continues, though the Congressional recess this week seems to allow for a slight cooling of heels.

Meanwhile, following a round of suggestions that he may be asked to testify in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee for comments he's made about private information he has on Miers, Focus on the Family President James Dobson has remained relatively quiet.

A spokesman advises CNN that Dobson's next statement regarding Ms. Miers could come as soon as tonight, and will be aired on his radio show on Wednesday and Thursday.

President Bush and First Lady Laura Bush start their day off on the Gulf Coast in Louisiana with an appearance on the "Today Show" and then participate in a Habitat for Humanity build. They head to Mississippi next, for a re-opening of an elementary school before they return to Washington following that event.

And we continue to monitor special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald's progress in the "CIA Leak" case. NY Times reporter Judith Miller is expected to be interviewed by Mr. Fitzgerald today.

Ms. Miller will not go before the grand jury today, but it is possible she could testify again, depending on the outcome of Fitzgerald's interview. Also, at a stake out this morning, CNN noted that Karl Rove left his home at approximately 6 am, driving his Jaguar.

CNN's Suzanne Malveaux caught up with Rove's attorney, Robert Luskin, yesterday, who projected confidence as the top strategist gets ready for what will be his fourth appearance before a grand jury.

Said Luskin, "Karl has truthfully told everyone who's asked him that he did not circulate Valerie Plame's name to punish her husband, Joe Wilson." Asked if that included President Bush, Luskin said, "Everyone is everyone." "He's told everyone who's asked him, including the federal prosecutor, that he's not part of any scheme."

Some sniping from the two party chairmen this week. At a Sunday rally, the Hartford Courant reported that DNC Chair Governor Howard Dean took a jab at RNC Chair Ken Mehlman's planned speech to the NAACP today.

Said Dean, ""I'm shocked that he would have the nerve to show his face in front of any African American organization after the way they treated those people in New Orleans."

Mr. Mehlman will respond in his speech today and will say something along the lines of, "Chairman Dean said it took nerve for me to join you today. The only person with nerve is Howard Dean, who continues to take the African American vote for granted, who believes he can dictate who you should and should not meet with. "

Also today John Edwards will headline a reception for NYC Democratic Mayoral candidate Fernando Ferrer tonight at Proof near Union Square in NYC.

Sen. Sam Brownback heads to New Hampshire to addresses the New Hampshire Institute of Politics at St. Anselm College at 7 p.m. We're eager to hear if he'll stick to his previous skepticism about the Miers nomination.

And, for all of the blogging members of Congress and others, a small note to welcome Patrick Ruffini back! Patrick, who is no stranger to party politics or campaigns, joins the RNC as eCampaign Director. He assures us that his '08 wire and straw poll will continue, even in his absence.

Political Hot Topics

Posted: 8:50 a.m. ET
From Stephen Bach, CNN Washington Bureau

BUSH STAYS IN FRENCH QUARTER: On this week's trip [to New Orleans], Mr. Bush is expected to see some signs of normalcy in the city, starting with his stay at the Windsor Court Hotel, which survived the storm with 80 percent of its facilities unharmed and is, according to its Web site, to reopen for business on Nov. 1. The Bushes dined at Bacco, an Italian restaurant owned by the prominent Brennan family of New Orleans restaurateurs. But a menu shared with reporters showed that the restaurant, known for its black truffle fettuccine, had pared back its offerings significantly. Patrons at nearby establishments in the once-raucous Quarter stopped to gaze at the motorcade, then moved on. New York Times: In 8th Visit to Gulf, Bush to Focus on Progressexternal link

ARE THESE THE SAME KIND OF DOUBTS? The White House yesterday dismissed early doubts from nearly half the Senate's Republicans over the Supreme Court nomination of Harriet Miers, saying that lawmakers also expressed doubts about Judge John G. Roberts Jr., who was easily confirmed last month as chief justice. "Even before the hearings that led to confirmation of Chief Justice Roberts, senators were saying they were reserving judgment on how they would vote until they got to know him better at the hearings," deputy press secretary Dana Perino said. Washington Times: White House targets doubts on Miers nodexternal link

DeLAY TAKES HIS CASE TO THE AIRWAVES: Long before his criminal case gets a hearing in a court of law, Rep. Tom DeLay is fighting in the court of public opinion. With his trademark zeal, he assails the prosecutor in one sentence and portrays himself as a victim in the next. And the media  often distrusted by fellow conservatives  is his bullhorn. "I know when you stand up for what you believe in, this kind of thing is going to happen," DeLay boasted on a Houston radio show. "It's part of the fight. I know Democrats hate me and they hate what I believe in and they hate the amazing things we've been able to accomplish ever since we've been in the majority." AP via Yahoo! News: DeLay Appeals to Court of Public Opinionexternal link

FITZ HAS REP AS RELENTLESS PROSECUTOR: When defense attorney Ron Safer heard that Patrick Fitzgerald would lead an inquiry into the leak of a CIA operative's name, his first thought was that, from the Bush administration's perspective, "they could not have picked a worse person." Safer, a Chicago lawyer who has watched Fitzgerald since he was named U.S. attorney there in 2001, says the prosecutor "will bring to this the same energy and aggression that he does to every other project he undertakes." USA Today: Investigator of CIA leak seen as relentlessexternal link

MCCAIN JOINS ARNOLD IN CALI: Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who has collected more than $76 million in contributions since running in the recall election two years ago, campaigned Monday with U.S. Sen. John McCain, who once called former Gov. Gray Davis' push to raise $26 million "disgraceful." McCain appeared with the governor at campaign events in Burbank and Oakland, touting the initiatives that Schwarzenegger wants passed in the Nov. 8 special election. By bringing in a senator who built an identity challenging the status quo, Schwarzenegger was trying to stoke interest in the ballot measures, which have been trailing badly in public opinion polls. Los Angeles Times: McCain Joins Gov. to Push Ballot Measuresexternal link

CORZINE IS PREFERRED DINNER GUEST: Given a choice between the two major party candidates for governor, New Jersey voters would rather have Jon Corzine over to dinner. But for coaching the local Little League team, Doug Forrester's their guy. The latest Star-Ledger/Rutgers-Eagleton poll also found that more likely voters would want Corzine, the Democratic U.S. senator and former Wall Street executive, to handle their family finances or be their boss at work than Forrester, the Republican businessman. The survey conducted last week, which showed Corzine leading Forrester in the governor's race by 7 percentage points among likely voters, also included these warmer-and-fuzzier questions in an effort to get beyond partisan leanings and to gauge voter attitudes on personal qualities of the candidates. Newark Star-Ledger: Voters split on rivals' likabilityexternal link

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