The Situation: Monday, November 7
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 4 p.m. ET to 6 p.m. ET and 7 p.m. ET to 8 p.m. ET weekdays.
Election monitoring Tuesday
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Posted 4:24 p.m. ET
The Justice Department announced Monday it will send federal observers and DOJ personnel to 16 jurisdictions in seven states to monitor Tuesday's elections, to ensure compliance with federal voting rights laws.
According to Justice, federal observers will monitor polling place activities in the following areas: San Diego and Ventura counties, California; Boston, Massachusetts; Hamtramck, Michigan; Kings, New York, Suffolk and Westchester counties, New York; Reading, Pennsylvania; and Ector County, Texas.
In addition, Justice Department personnel, most of whom are lawyers, will monitor elections in San Francisco County, California; Lawrence and Lowell, Massachusetts; Edison, New Jersey; and Queens and Richmond counties, New York.
DoJ advises that people can file complaints about voting practices by calling the Voting Section of the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division at 1-800-253-3931.
Chief nuclear inspector in Washington
Posted 4:12 p.m. ET
The head of the United Nations' nuclear watch dog group said Monday his inspectors are making progress determining the extent of Iran's nuclear program, but not nearly as quickly as he would like.
Mohamed ElBaradei, the director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), told a nonproliferation conference sponsored by the Carnegie Endowment that there is "a sea change" in understanding "the extent of the nature" of Iran's program.
He complimented the Iranians for allowing access to facilities beyond the confines of the IAEA's mandate. Just last week, IAEA inspectors visited the Parchin military complex near Tehran, where environmental samples were taken. Unlike a previous visit, inspectors did not face restrictions on what buildings they could enter.
However, there is still one more location in Iran the agency wants to visit. ElBaradei said Iran should allow inspectors to tour the Lavizan facility, where high-explosive tests are conducted.
"We are moving in the right direction," said ElBaradei, but he called on Iran to give the IAEA more legal authority so as to provide more transparency into the nature of its nuclear program.
This weekend Iran indicated it is ready to resume the stalled negotiations with three European nations seeking to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear enrichment program, which could be used to make weapons. The United States has supported the efforts by those nations -- Britain, France and Germany.
Detainee policy debate
Posted 3:36 p.m. ET
The State Department is staying silent on recent reports about secret U.S.-run prisons abroad for detainees suspected of terrorism. But aides to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said a Washington Post report Monday about a feud between Rice and Vice President Dick Cheney about the handling of detainees is untrue.
The Post said that Rice favors implementing more safeguards for treatment of detainees and is battling Cheney, who is against tighter restrictions.
State Department officials told CNN the account does not reflect Rice's views. However, they did confirm that while on a trip to Canada last month, Rice held a secure teleconference with Bush's national security council, of which Cheney is a member, on the issue.
While calling reports about fights between Cheney and Rice "exaggerated," one senior State Department official said there is an effort within the Bush administration to get a handle on the detainee controversy.
"There is an acknowledgement that the perception that we abuse detainees is a problem and a concern, and something needs to be done about it," the official told CNN. This official said that although Rice has a major role and "holds major diplomatic equities" in the discussions, those with "security equities," such as the Pentagon and the CIA, are also involved.
Pete Rose's son facing drug charges
Posted 11:57 p.m. ET
Pete Rose Jr., the son of the legendary baseball star, is facing drug trafficking charges, CNN has learned.
A federal law enforcement official said negotiations between Rose and the Drug Enforcement Administration led to Rose agreeing to turn himself in and plead guilty to charges in a federal indictment.
DEA officials said Rose could be sentenced to a maximum of 20 years in prison for his alleged role in a conspiracy to distribute gamma-butyrolactone (GBL) to minor league professional players.
The DEA said this arrest is part of a larger investigation into what it calls a major GBL trafficking organization.
"GBL is a substance that was never intended for human consumption because it can cause significant health problems, including seizures and possibly even death," Sherri Strange of the DEA said in a written statement. "It continues to be sold to unsuspecting individuals who believe the drug will build muscles and improve physical performance. Hopefully, this arrest will continue to shed light on how potentially damaging this controlled substance can be."
The Morning Grind
Posted 9:15 a.m. ET
President Bush travels to Richmond tonight to headline an 11th hour rally for Virginia Republican gubernatorial nominee Jerry Kilgore, as candidates across the country spend their final 24 hours mining for votes before Election Day.
Governors' races in Virginia and New Jersey are the highest profile contests this year and national Democrats and Republicans will be watching both states for a political trend that might carryover into the 2006 midterm elections. Next year, 435 U.S. House seats and one-third of the 100 U.S. Senate seats are up for grabs.
For Bush, a Kilgore victory in Virginia will help minimize the idea that his weak approval ratings are hurting Republican candidates nationwide. A win by Lt. Gov. Tim Kaine, the Democratic nominee, would help boost Gov. Mark Warner's (D) future political plans. Warner, who is campaigning with Kaine today, is said to be seriously considering running for the White House in 2008. There is no clear favorite in the Virginia race, according to the Washington Post, which characterized it today as a "virtual dead heat." The ability to turn out voters is expected to be the key to victory, with Kilgore hoping Bush's appearance tonight will energize the GOP base, while Kaine is relying on Warner's soaring popularity with Virginia voters to help him carry the day.
Just up Interstate 95, the campaign for New Jersey governor is tightening, according to a new poll by the Star-Ledger/Eagleton-Rutgers.
U.S. Sen. Jon Corzine, the Democratic nominee, holds a six percentage point advantage over Doug Forrester, the Republican nominee. Among likely voters, Corzine leads 43 percent to 37 percent, according to poll conducted Nov. 1 though Nov. 5. Last month, Corzine lead Forrester by seven percentage points in the same poll.
Forrester made inroads with independent voters last week after he began running a commercial highlighting negative comments made about Corzine by his ex-wife. Murray Edelman, the poll director, is quoted in the Star-Ledger today as saying the ad did not have an affect on Democratic or Republican voters but it did move independents toward Forrester. Forrester holds a 38 percent to 37 percent lead over Corzine among independent voters. Last month, independents favored Corzine 41 percent to 37 percent. Independents account for one-third of the voters in the Garden State, the Star-Ledger said. Despite Forrester's gains, Edelman tells the newspaper that he doesn't think it is "a strong enough trajectory for him to win."
In another poll released today, a Quinnipiac University survey shows that Corzine leads Forrester 52 percent to 45 percent. Independent voters backed Forrester 49 percent to 46 percent, according to the poll.
Neither Corzine nor Forrester have spared any expense in their race to be New Jersey's next governor. Through the weekend, Corzine will have paid more than $21 million on television advertising, while Forrester will have spent over $14 million, according to TNS Media Intelligence/Campaign Media Analysis Group, CNN's consultant on advertising spending. In contrast, the two leading candidates in the Virginia governor's race have spent a little more than $14 million combined (Kaine about $7.5 million and Kilgore $7.1 million), CMAG estimates.
New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg (R) has spent the most money of any one candidate on television advertising in this election cycle. CMAG estimates that through Friday, Bloomberg has paid more than $28 million for television advertising in this campaign, more than four times his Democratic opponent Fernando Ferrer, who has spent about $6 million. CMAG estimates that Bloomberg has spent more on advertising than 56 other mayor races combined this year.
"Bloomberg has touched almost every part of New York in at least one of his ads," said Evan Tracey of CMAG.
Speaking of ad spending, former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Texas) has posted ads on Web sites asking donors to help with his legal defense fund. Brent Perry, administrator of the Tom DeLay Legal Expense Trust, said they have decided to advertise "primarily on Web sites frequented by conservatives."
Perry said the ads are running on the drudgereport.com and hughhewitt.com, among others. Perry said they began advertising on these websites a "couple of weeks ago," and was not able to say how much the trust has raised through the click-through ads that feature a picture of a smiling DeLay against the backdrop of the American flag with "Defend DeLay" written across the bottom.
"It is an alternative way to raise money," Perry said. "That is not to say we are disengaging with the way we have (raised money) in the past." The trust reported raising $318,000 in the third quarter of this year, money which will be used to help DeLay fight charges that he violated Texas campaign law.
And while many local and state candidates will be concentrating on campaigning this week, lawmakers on Capitol Hill will be focusing on the 2006 budget, pre-war Iraq war intelligence, and the bird flu as well as questioning top oil company executives about rising energy prices and their profits.
Political Hot Topics
Posted: 9:15 a.m. ET
ROUGH ROAD TRIP: George W. Bush sometimes seems to be in a Murphy's Law period of his presidency, when everything that can go wrong will go wrong. So after one of his most miserable weeks at the White House, things did not get a lot better on his messy four-day trip to Latin America. There were violent anti-Bush riots in the streets of Argentina's favorite beach resort, Mar del Plata. There was an anti-American rally of 25,000 people led by President Hugo Chávez of Venezuela, the show-stealing White House nemesis. Then Mr. Bush abruptly exited an international summit meeting as talks over an American-promoted trade deal hit an impasse. A news conference 5,500 miles from Washington was dominated by questions about Karl Rove and the C.I.A. leak case. New York Times: Far Away From Home, No Rest for a Weary President
WH SANS ROVE INEVITABLE? He's weary. His wife and only child, who is approaching college, miss him. He has monstrous legal bills. His unique bond with the President is under stress. His most important work is done. Karl Rove's colleagues don't know exactly when it will happen, but they are already laying out the reasons they will give for the departure of the man President George W. Bush dubbed the architect. A Roveless Bush seemed unthinkable just a few months ago. But that has changed as the President's senior adviser and deputy chief of staff remains embroiled in the CIA leak scandal. TIME: A White House Without Rove?
OUT IN FRONT ON INTERROGATION: Over the past year, Vice President Cheney has waged an intense and largely unpublicized campaign to stop Congress, the Pentagon and the State Department from imposing more restrictive rules on the handling of terrorist suspects, according to defense, state, intelligence and congressional officials. Last winter, when Sen. John D. Rockefeller IV (D-W.Va.), vice chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, began pushing to have the full committee briefed on the CIA's interrogation practices, Cheney called him to the White House to urge that he drop the matter, said three U.S. officials. In recent months, Cheney has been the force against adding safeguards to the Defense Department's rules on treatment of military prisoners, putting him at odds with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and acting Deputy Secretary of Defense Gordon R. England. Washington Post: Cheney Fights for Detainee Policy
ALITO FILIBUSTER "UNLIKELY": Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr. said yesterday that he expects an up-or-down vote by the full Senate on the Supreme Court nomination of Judge Samuel A. Alito Jr., without the parliamentary blockades that Democrats used against 10 of President Bush's appellate court nominees. The Delaware senator and longtime Senate Judiciary Committee member becomes the latest Democrat to indicate that a filibuster of the judge's nomination is unlikely, although he spoke even as one of the nation's leading liberal groups began its air war against Judge Alito. Asked whether Democrats would commit to the up-or-down vote, Mr. Biden said on ABC's "This Week": "Well, my instinct is we should commit." Washington Times: Biden says filibuster on Alito unlikely
BLOOMBERG ON BLOOMBERG'S 38-POINT (!) LEAD: Republican Mayor Michael Bloomberg has opened up a 38-point lead over Democratic challenger Fernando Ferrer among likely New York voters, according to a poll that gives the incumbent almost all of the previously undecided voters going into tomorrow's election. Bloomberg led Ferrer 68 percent to 30 percent in the Quinnipiac University poll released today, which for the first time allocated undecided voters to the candidate they said they were most likely to support. Bloomberg topped Ferrer 59 percent-31 percent in a Quinnipiac poll last week, with 8 percent saying they were undecided and 2 percent backing Thomas Ognibene, a former Queens councilman running on the Conservative Party line. Ognibene's support is unchanged in today's survey. Bloomberg: New York Mayor Bloomberg Leads Ferrer by 38 Points, Poll Says
W TO STUMP IN VA: President Bush's detour to Virginia on his way home from Latin America on Monday shows that, despite all his troubles, he can still be considered an asset in a close political race. Bush will try to push Republican gubernatorial candidate Jerry Kilgore over the edge in the deadlocked campaign's final hours on Monday night. The president and other state Republicans will appear with Kilgore, who served as Bush's Virginia re-election campaign chairman, in a rally at the Richmond airport. Wrapping up a five-day trip to Latin America, Bush is scheduled to make the stop on his flight home from Panama. The latest polls shows the Virginia governor's race is a dead heat between Kilgore and Democrat Timothy Kaine leading into Tuesday's voting. AP via Yahoo! News: Bush to Lend Kilgore Last-Minute Help
CORZINE LEADS BY 6 IN NJ: Sharp, public criticism of Democrat Jon Corzine by his ex-wife has pushed independent voters toward Republican Doug Forrester, but Corzine retains a six percentage point lead in the closing days of the caustic campaign for governor, a Star-Ledger/Eagleton-Rutgers Poll shows. Corzine leads Forrester 43 percent to 37 percent among likely voters, according to the poll. About 9 percent of those surveyed remain undecided. Corzine held a seven-point lead in an October poll. "There appears to be a trend toward Forrester," poll director Murray Edelman said, "but I don't see this being a strong enough trajectory for him to win." Newark Star-Ledger: Corzine Holds Slim Lead on Election Eve
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