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The Situation: Friday, October 21

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.

Rice rocks out at U2 show

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President Bush meets with Bono in the Oval Office Wednesday.

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Posted: 10:20 a.m. ET
From David de Sola, CNN Washington Bureau

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, whose been known to dabble in classical piano, took in rocker/statesman Bono's sold out U2 show last night at the MCI Center in Washington.

Rice and her former deputy, National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley, had an entourage that included her security detail who looked none-too-pleased that other U2 fans chose to to come say hello. Rice was very gracious and good-humored about it.

Bono later gave her a shout-out onstage for her work on the President's AIDS Initiative and thanked her for meeting with him yesterday at the State Department

Rice and Hadley stayed for approximately one hour of U2's two-hour set before leaving in the middle of "Sunday Bloody Sunday."

Also in attendance and getting Crossfire-style introductions and shout-outs from Bono during the show were House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-California) ["from the left"] and Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pennsylvania) ["on the right"]. Bono also thanked Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Illinois).

The Morning Grind

Posted: 9:20 a.m. ET
From Mark Preston, CNN Political Unit

DeLay's DeDay in Court

As House Majority Tom DeLay (R-Texas) appears before a Texas judge today, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tennessee) will be putting the finishing touches on a high profile speech designed to distinguish himself from the handful of other Republican Senators eyeing a 2008 White House run.

Frist is headlining the Iowa GOP's annual Ronald Reagan Dinner on Saturday, and he is expected to tout the Republican Party's legislative wins during his time as Senate leader, according to early excerpts of the remarks obtained by CNN. Playing to the Republican audience, Frist will specifically criticize trial lawyers, describing them as "greedy," and test a new phrase the "can do spirit" that the Tennessee Republican will be echoing in the days and months to come.

"We need to find new ways, we need to innovate, we need to look to the future, we need to be bold," Frist is expected to tell the influential GOP caucus voters. "We need to say yes, when others are saying no."

The Iowa speech comes as Frist is being investigated by federal authorities for his HCA stock sales, but his political advisers said they are confident the Senate leader would be exonerated.

"I think what you are going to see in the future is Bill Frist stepping up and finally taking credit for some of the things the Senate has accomplished under his leadership," said a Republican source close to Frist.

A day after being booked in Texas, DeLay will appear before a Travis County judge to answer charges that he conspired to break Texas campaign finance laws by illegally funneling corporate money to state candidates. He is expected to hold a news conference at around 11 a.m. ET at the Texas State Capitol. Look to CNN throughout the day for continuing coverage of the DeLay story.

Despite the former House Majority Leader's problems, the National Republican Congressional Committee raised more money in the third quarter than its counterpart, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. The NRCC raised $12.6 million and has $17.7 million in the bank. But the DCCC numbers are still impressive, given that Democrats are in the minority and have limited power in the House. The DCCC raised nearly $9 million in the same reporting period and has $11.3 million in its campaign war chest.

"Americans are sick and tired of the culture of corruption in Washington, which is why the DCCC is having the best, in terms of fundraising, the best off-year, we have ever had," said Sarah Feinberg, a DCCC spokeswoman. "We have raised more in the first nine months of this year [$33 million] than in all of 2003."

Meanwhile, the Republican National Committee holds a substantial financial edge over the Democratic National Committee, a comparison of the fundraising reports show. The RNC has five times more money in its campaign account than its Democratic counterpart. The DNC is sitting on $6.8 million, while Republicans have more than $34 million in the bank. In the third quarter alone, the RNC pulled in $19 million compared to the DNC's take of $10.7 million.

To say that Democrats are despondent over the numbers is an understatement and there is second-guessing among some Democrats about whether former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean was the right choice to lead the national party.

"This is only going to increase doubts about his ability to deliver," said a sullen Democratic strategist, who would speak candidly only on the condition of anonymity. "It is hard to raise money in an off-year, but this shows that Dean hasn't totally made the case to his donors that he would use the money in the right way."

Senate Democrats and Republicans were relatively competitive in raising money in the third quarter, but Democrats have more than twice as much money in the bank. The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee raised $8.7 million in the 3rd quarter, and has $19 million cash-on-hand. The National Republican Senatorial Committee collected $7.3 million in the 3rd quarter and has $9.4 million in the bank.

Speaking of raising money, the leading candidates in next year's Florida Senate race have cancelled fundraisers this weekend, as the Sunshine State braces for yet another hurricane to hit its shores. Rep. Katherine Harris (R-Florida) and Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Florida) have pulled the plug on events, but these fundraisers will be rescheduled.

"We believe the safety and security of all Floridians is the most important priority, as we face a potentially devastating natural disaster," Morgan Dobbs, Harris' spokeswoman said.

And finally, Sen. Kent Conrad (D-North Dakota) tells CNN's Ed Henry that Senate Budget Chairman Judd Gregg (R-New Hampshire) should consider donating his Powerball winnings to help pay down the federal deficit. Gregg won $853,492 this week in the mega-jackpot lottery.

Political Hot Topics

"We'll take it all," Conrad joked.

Posted: 9:20 a.m. ET
From Stephen Bach, CNN Washington Bureau

SILENCE IS DEAFENING: At 7:30 each morning, President Bush's senior staff gathers to discuss the important issues of the day -- Middle East peace, the Harriet Miers nomination, the latest hurricane bearing down on the coast. Everything, that is, except the issue on everyone's mind. With special counsel Patrick J. Fitzgerald driving his CIA leak investigation toward an apparent conclusion, the White House now confronts the looming prospect that no one in the building is eager to address: a Bush presidency without Karl Rove. In a capital consumed by scandal speculation, most White House senior officials are no more privy than outsiders to the prosecutor's intentions. But the surreal silence in the Roosevelt Room each morning belies the nervous discussions racing elsewhere around the West Wing. Washington Post: A Palpable Silence at the White Houseexternal link

MERCIFULLY, THE CALLS HAVE CONCLUDED: Harriet Miers -- whose courtesy calls with senators in their Capitol Hill offices have been more chaotic than courteous -- has finished the tour, the White House has told congressional aides. Miss Miers will spend the next two weeks cramming for her Supreme Court confirmation hearings, Republican Senate staffers working on the nomination told The Washington Times yesterday. The meetings have been fraught with misunderstandings and disagreements, giving ammunition to detractors, both liberal and conservative, that Miss Miers is in over her head. Washington Times: Miers to end her visits with senatorsexternal link

START CRAMMING FOR NOVEMBER 7: Harriet E. Miers, the unobtrusive White House counsel who helped run the so-called murder boards that prepared Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. for his Senate confirmation hearings, is now the one whose future life as a Supreme Court justice is at stake. Ms. Miers, whose confirmation hearings before the Senate Judiciary Committee are scheduled to begin Nov. 7, has so far practiced in three mock hearings of three to five hours each, most recently on Tuesday. A White House official said Ms. Miers and her team planned at least a dozen more, about the same number that Chief Justice Roberts had. New York Times: Team Is Preparing Miers for Tough Senate Hearingexternal link

DeLAY WANTS A NEW JUDGE: Citing partisan differences, U.S. Rep. Tom DeLay, R-Sugar Land, wants a new judge to hear his conspiracy and money-laundering charges somewhere other than Travis County. DeLay's lawyer on Thursday asked state District Judge Bob Perkins, a Democrat, to remove himself from the case because of donations the judge made to the Democratic Party, its candidates and the political organization, Moveon.org. By challenging the judge's impartiality, lawyer Dick DeGuerin is taking a page from his playbook a dozen years ago when Perkins removed himself from a trial of U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison because the judge gave money to her Senate opponent. Austin American-Statesmen: DeLay wants new judge, new trial locationexternal link

LARGE SMILE A BIT OF STRATEGERY: Why is Tom DeLay smiling? After all, he's been indicted. Forced out of his job as House majority leader. And called into court for fingerprinting and a mugshot like a common criminal. Answer: A photo of DeLay grinning from ear to ear doesn't pack quite the punch in a Democratic attack ad as one that looks more like the mugshot of, say, actor Hugh Grant. Note the House of Representatives security pin on DeLay's lapel. He looks in the photo like a proud member of Congress who might just have won the lottery, not one indicted on charges of money laundering. The photo looks like it could have been taken anywhere. And that was just the point. AP via Yahoo! News: DeLay Smile May Foil Democrat Campaign Adsexternal link

BILL SUPPORTS FERRER IN 2 MINUTE SPEECH: Former President Bill Clinton endorsed Democrat Fernando Ferrer's mayoral bid yesterday, but his enthusiasm and his words of praise were a bit muted - literally. Appearing together in the South Bronx, Clinton noted that Ferrer had endorsed his candidacy for President in 1992, saying he was "glad to be here to return the favor." In a 130-second address, Clinton mentioned Ferrer's name only once - which might have been a problem if the crowd on Charlotte St. could hear him. Before Clinton and Ferrer arrived, aides for the two were seen shouting at each other about the event's logistics. Officials had set up a stage and a sound system, but it was quickly dismantled. New York Daily News: Bill gives Freddy nod amid staticexternal link

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