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The Situation: Tuesday, November 8

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.

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Morning Grind
George W. Bush
Capitol Hill

Posted 1:05 p.m. ET
From David Ensor, CNN America Bureau

John Negroponte, Director of National Intelligence, announced Tuesday the creation of a new "open source" intelligence center, to be based at CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia.

His deputy, General Michael Hayden, told reporters that U.S. intelligence needs to remember that "just because it is stolen does not make it better" and said the new center will train analysts throughout the intelligence community to make better use of information that is publically available.

The new director of the center is Douglas Naquin, a longtime CIA analyst who headed the old Foreign Broadcast Information Service (FBIS) at the CIA, which has been folded into the new center.

Negroponte's office said in a statement that the new center "will advance the Intelligence Community's exploitation of openly available information to include the Internet, databases, press, radio, television, video, geospatial data, photos and commercial imagery."

Mary Margaret Graham, an aide to Negroponte, told reporters better use of open source information should lead to more effective use of clandestine intelligence gathering as well.

The Morning Grind

Posted 9:35 a.m. ET
From Mark Preston and Robert Yoon, CNN Political Unit


Cast your ballots

Voters head to the polls today to choose new governors in New Jersey and Virginia, cast their ballots in a number of big city mayoral contests and decide whether to support California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's "reform agenda" in the Golden State.

In other states, Texas will decide on a state constitutional amendment banning same sex marriage; Maine will vote on whether to repeal a law outlawing discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation; Ohio will choose whether to support an initiative to put redistricting in the hands of an independent commission; and Washington State will vote on whether to repeal a 9.5 cent per gallon gasoline tax enacted by the legislature this year.

The marquee races, though, are the close contests in New Jersey and Virginia.

U.S. Sen. Jon Corzine (D) is battling to keep the New Jersey governor's seat in Democratic hands, but a late surge from Republican nominee Doug Forrester is making this race competitive. Current polls show Corzine holding a 5 percent to 7 percent lead heading into Election Day. In the past week, the hard fought race turned bitter when Forrester aired a 15-second television ad featuring a quote from Corzine's ex-wife saying he "let his family down, and he'll probably let New Jersey down, too." Corzine immediately responded by releasing his own television ad accusing Forrester of engaging in "Bush-Rove" smear tactics.

The Forrester ad worked, according to polls, which showed some independents moving away from Corzine to back the Republican. Ross Baker, a Rutgers political science professor, said that while Forrester was able to win over some independents, Corzine's ability to continue to maintain a lead is a good sign for the Democrat.

"My sense is that Corzine wins narrowly," Baker said. Should Corzine win, one of his first official acts is to appoint someone to fill his unexpired term in the Senate. At least four Democratic U.S. Reps. Robert Andrews, Robert Menendez, Rush Holt and Frank Pallone are interested in moving to the Senate. Current Democratic Gov. Richard Codey is also said to be interested in moving to the nation's capital.

The lawmaker appointed by Corzine would have the advantage of being in office as they run for their own six year term in 2006. Should Corzine lose, Baker predicts that he would run for reelection to the Senate. Polls in New Jersey close at 8 p.m. ET

In Virginia, Lt. Gov. Tim Kaine (D) and former state Attorney General Jerry Kilgore (R) are locked in a tight race to succeed Gov. Mark Warner (D). Kaine maintains a razor thin lead over Kilgore (45 percent to 44 percent), according to a Mason Dixon poll conducted last week. Warner has invested heavily helping Kaine win, a victory that could help boost his bid for the White House if he chooses to seek the Democratic nomination in 2008.

President Bush attended a Kilgore rally in Richmond last night to energize the Republican base. Last month, as an ethical cloud hung over the White House over the alleged leaking of a CIA operative's identity by senior White House staffers, Kilgore decided not to attend a Bush appearance in Norfolk. But Bush's appearance last night electrified the partisan crowd and on at least four separate occasions the president urged the GOP faithful to go to the polls and help with the Republican Party's get-out-the-vote operation.

"He's got a clear agenda," Bush said of Kilgore. "That's what you want in somebody running for governor. You got to know where they stand not yesterday, but today and tomorrow." Polls in Virginia close at 7 p.m. ET.

In California, Schwarzenegger is investing all of his time in trying to convince voters to support four ballot initiatives: (Prop. 74) requires state public school teachers to serve five years before qualifying for tenure; (Prop. 75) requires public employee unions to get written consent from workers before spending dues on political activities; (Prop. 76) caps state spending and gives the governor greater budget authority; and (Prop. 77) creates a non-partisan commission to draw boundaries for state and Congressional legislative districts. Of the four measures on the ballot, the teacher tenure proposal is the only measure that has a chance of being approved, according to a recent Los Angeles Times poll.

Schwarzenegger has already announced he would run for reelection next year, but there is speculation the governor will be hurt politically if his agenda fails. Tim Hodson, executive director of the Center for California Studies at Sacramento State University, said he does not believe a loss by Schwarzenegger today dooms his political future.

"I think it has an immediate impact, but 12 months from now it could be potentially negligible because ... he could go in front of the people and say, 'The good people of California taught me a lesson,'" Hodson said. "We all know the American people love to forgive."

While Schwarzenegger had not made this part of his reform agenda, another California ballot measure to watch is one that would require minors to notify their parents before they receive an abortion. The governor has endorsed Proposition 73, which allows exceptions in cases of a medical emergency or if the minor receives a judicial waiver. Polls in California close at 8 p.m. PT.

In Ohio, a proposal to take the power of redistricting out of lawmakers' hands has not caught fire with the voters, polls show. The Ohio measure is very similar to the one Schwarzenegger is promoting in California and he even endorsed it much to the chagrin of Ohio Republicans. (The Ohio redistricting would hurt Republicans, while the California redistricting measure would harm Democrats).

John C. Green, a University of Akron political science professor, said Ohio voters have not been able to comprehend the redistricting measure known as Issue 4.

"I think the problem with Issue 4, leaving the merits aside, is that it is really complicated and voters are having a hard time understanding it," Green said. "When voters have a hard time understanding a ballot issue, it usually loses." Polls in Ohio close at 7:30 ET.

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg (R) is comfortably ahead in his bid for a second term, according to recent polls. Even former President Bill Clinton's endorsement of Democratic nominee Fernando Ferrer has done little to help the former Bronx Borough president from chipping away at Bloomberg's 64 percent to 30 percent lead, according to a WNBC/Marist poll conducted Nov. 1 through 2. Bloomberg has invested heavily in television advertising in this campaign. The mayor has spent more than $28 million on television ads, compared to Ferrer's $6 million, according to TNS Media Intelligence/Campaign Media Analysis Group, CNN's consultant on advertising spending. Polls in New York City close at 9 p.m. ET.

Another incumbent, Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick (D), is trailing in the polls to Freman Hendrix (D), a former deputy mayor in Dennis Archer's administration. The city is in financial despair and Kilpatrick has been accused of dipping into public funds for personal use including football games, lavish diners and clothing, according to local media reports.

"The polls have the challenger Freman Hendrix slightly up," said Lyke Thompson, a political science professor at Wayne State University. "The other thing that is to his advantage is the elderly tend to get out and vote more. On the other hand, if the weather is good ... then it will encourage the young voters who favor mayor Kilpatrick to come out and vote." Polls in Detroit close at 8 p.m. ET.

San Diego City Council Member Donna Frye (D), who narrowly lost last year to Mayor Dick Murphy (R), is trailing in the polls to former police chief Jerry Sanders (R). Murphy and his successor resigned from office amid allegations of corruption. Polls in San Diego close at 8 p.m. PT. In St. Paul, incumbent Democratic Mayor Randy Kelly, who endorsed President Bush in 2004, is fighting for his political life. Chris Coleman, a former Democratic city councilmember, is leading in the polls.

In Texas and Maine the polls close at 8 p.m. ET and in Washington State the last ballot is cast at 8 p.m. PT. Voters will also cast their ballots for mayor in Atlanta, Boston and Houston.

Political Hot Topics

Posted: 9:35 a.m. ET
From Stephen Bach, CNN Washington Bureau

"COIN TOSS" IN JERSEY: Nearly one in 10 voters remained undecided in the last days of the campaign, according to a Star-Ledger/Eagleton-Rutgers Poll. A similar number refused to say which way they might be leaning. Most of those undecided voters are independents, who traditionally comprise about a third of the electorate. The poll, taken last Tuesday through Saturday, found 23 percent of independents were undecided, along with 13 percent of Democrats and 9 percent of Republicans. "It's a pretty high number of undecideds. You have to assume it's higher than usual because it's closer than usual," poll director Murray Edelman said. "There is clearly a lot of volatility in this race." Some of those undecided voters say that after a $40 million blitz of mostly negative TV ads from both sides, they don't see a big difference between Corzine and Forrester. Newark Star-Ledger: Corzine, Forrester ... To many, a coin tossexternal link

DOWN TO THE WIRE IN VA: President Bush told a crowd of thousands at a private hangar at Richmond International Airport last night that Republican gubernatorial candidate Jerry W. Kilgore will bring common-sense, conservative leadership to Virginia. In one of the largest political rallies in recent memory, Bush said: "He's got a clear agenda, and that's what you have to have to be governor."... In a boisterous homecoming, Democrat Timothy M. Kaine closed his campaign for governor last night as he opened it eight months ago -- as Gov. Mark R. Warner's twin. Richmond Times-Dispatch: Election Centerexternal link

"POISED FOR A WIN OF HISTORIC PROPORTIONS": The final poll of the mayor's race yesterday showed Mayor Bloomberg crushing challenger Fernando Ferrer by 38 points, as the candidates hunted every last vote before today's election. The Quinnipiac University poll has Republican Bloomberg leading 68 percent to 30 percent among likely voters -- an incredible blowout that would break Rudy Giuliani's record of a 17-point victory, set against Ruth Messinger in 1997. "Mayor Bloomberg is poised for a win of historic proportions," said Quinnipiac polling director Maurice Carroll. New York Post: Mike on Brink of Historyexternal link

COSTLIEST CAMPAIGN IN CALI HISTORY: California's special election battle, the costliest campaign in the state's long history of do-it-yourself democracy, roared to a close Monday with a freewheeling day of north-to-south appearances by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and his political foes. Stumping from Chico to Del Mar, the governor borrowed a line from his Hollywood days. "Tomorrow is judgment day," he told senior citizens at a Del Webb retirement community in Roseville, outside Sacramento. "Tomorrow we are going to make a decision: Does the state move forward or does it move backward?" Los Angeles Times: On Election's Eve, a Final Day of Frenzyexternal link

"WE DO NOT TORTURE": President Bush, defending a clandestine U.S. prison system abroad for terrorism suspects, said Monday that his administration would continue to aggressively battle terrorism in sometimes unconventional but always lawful ways. Brushing aside international criticism of the CIA-run prisons set up in eight countries, Bush said that the nation is at war with an enemy "that lurks and plots and plans and wants to hurt America again. And so, you bet, we'll aggressively pursue them, but we'll do so under the law." Bush, who spoke to reporters during a brief visit to the capital of Panama, also asserted, "We do not torture." Washington Post: Bush Defends CIA's Clandestine Prisonsexternal link

"OOPS" ON INTEL BUDGET: In an apparent slip, a top American intelligence official has revealed at a public conference what has long been secret: the amount of money the United States spends on its spy agencies. At an intelligence conference in San Antonio last week, Mary Margaret Graham, a 27-year veteran of the Central Intelligence Agency and now the deputy director of national intelligence for collection, said the annual intelligence budget was $44 billion. The number was reported Monday in U.S. News and World Report, whose national security reporter, Kevin Whitelaw, was among the hundreds of people in attendance during Ms. Graham's talk. New York Times: Official Reveals Budget for U.S. Intelligenceexternal link

DeLAY LAWYERS MOVE FOR CHANGE OF VENUE: The new judge in the criminal trial of U.S. Rep. Tom DeLay on Monday set his first hearing in the case for Nov. 22, most likely taking up motions to move the trial from Travis to Fort Bend County. Attorneys for DeLay, R-Sugar Land, have asked Senior Judge Pat Priest to take up the change of venue motion first, but there also are motions before Priest to quash the indictments against DeLay and to sever his trial from his co-defendants, John Colyandro and Jim Ellis. Houston Chronicle: New DeLay judge sets date for his first hearingexternal link

RI GOV ACCUSED ON TV OF HAVING MISTRESSES: An angry and upset Governor Carcieri yesterday denounced longtime Democratic party operative Guy Dufault for bragging -- during what he evidently believed was an off-camera moment during the taping of a TV show -- that he had the "stuff" to "bring Carcieri down." "If nothing else, I've got the names of the past comattas. I just gotta throw them out there," Dufault, using the Italian slang for girlfriend, told his guest during a sound check for Sunday morning's edition of his TV show, The Real Deal. To the shock of many in the state's political community, these comments -- along with others in which the veteran casino lobbyist and political consultant also knocked Carcieri's likely Democratic opponent -- were broadcast. Providence Journal-Bulletin: Governor blasts 'smear' tacticexternal link

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