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The Situation: Monday, November 28

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.

The Morning Grind

President Bush will focus on illegal immigration issues this week.





Morning Grind
George W. Bush

Posted: 9:28 a.m. ET
From Mark Preston, CNN Political Unit

Bush on the road

Immigration and war on terror top the list of issues President Bush will focus on this week, as he wraps up his Thanksgiving vacation in Crawford, Texas.

Bush will meet with customs and border patrol agents today in Tucson, Arizona, and speak about border security and immigration reform before traveling to El Paso, Texas, Tuesday to visit U.S. Border Patrol Headquarters. On Wednesday, Bush will appear at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis to discuss the war on terror. Border security, immigration, and the Iraq War are issues dividing the Republican Party as it enters a critical midterm election year. CNN's Elaine Quijano reports the president's immigration speech will focus on three areas: border security, enforcement and a temporary worker program. (Full Story)

A senior administration official told CNN that Bush will talk about "additional resources and the use of technology to secure the border," and will discuss it in terms of national security and the economy. Interior enforcement is another issue Bush is expected to raise. The official says that includes "interior repatriation," or returning illegal immigrants from Mexico to the interior of the country instead of on the other side of the border. In addition, the president will talk about adding beds to detention facilities "so we aren't catching and releasing illegal immigrants."

As for the war, U.S. Sen. John Warner (R-Virginia) suggested Sunday that Bush address the American public directly about his plan for Iraq.

"I think it would be to Bush's advantage," Warner said on NBC's 'Meet the Press.' "It would bring him closer to the people, dispel some of the concern that, understandably, our people have about the loss of life and limb, the enormous cost of this war to the American public."

The president also will attend fundraisers for two GOP incumbents and one Republican challenger in the next 72 hours. Bush will help raise money for Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Arizona) today in Phoenix, attend a fundraiser for Rep. Marilyn Musgrave (R-Colorado) Tuesday in Denver and appear at a lunch Wednesday in Baltimore on behalf of Maryland Lt. Gov. Michael Steele (R), who is running for U.S. Senate.

Another Republican incumbent, U.S. Rep. Jim Kolbe (R-Arizona), announced over the holiday that he plans to retire when the curtain drops on the 109th Congress. Kolbe, who was first elected in 1984, is the only openly gay Republican in Congress. The 11-term Republican cited several factors for his decision to step down, including the divisive "mood" in Congress as well as his desire to follow other pursuits, according to the Arizona Republic. Kolbe also warned that Republicans will have a difficult time holding onto his seat, which includes Tucson and the southeast corner of the state. Several Republicans and Democrats are said to be eyeing a run for the open seat, according to the newspaper.

Meanwhile, U.S. Reps. Ike Skelton (D-Missouri) and Tim Murphy (R-Pennsylvania) are nursing injuries sustained when their vehicle overturned in Baghdad, the Associated Press reports. Skelton, Murphy and U.S. Rep. Jim Marshall (D-Georgia) were visiting troops in Afghanistan and Iraq over the Thanksgiving holiday. Marshall was not injured. (Full Story)

U.S. Rep. John Murtha's (D-Pennsylvania) call for the withdrawal of troops from Iraq continues to produce political aftershocks, the latest pitting U.S. House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Illinois) against U.S. Sen. John Kerry (D-Massachusetts). Hastert is disputing a claim Kerry made in a November 18 e-mail to supporters that the Speaker called Murtha a coward and charged that the Massachusetts Democrat was trying to raise money from the incident.

"Dennis Hastert -- the Speaker of the House who never served -- accused Jack Murtha of being a coward," Kerry wrote in an e-mail titled "Don't stand for 'Swift Boat' style attacks on Jack Murtha." A group called Swift Boat Veterans for Truth is credited with helping to defeat Kerry in the 2004 presidential election. Kerry and Murtha are both decorated military veterans.

"By ignoring the facts, Senator Kerry is making an effort to be relevant again," Ron Bonjean, Hastert's spokesman, told the Grind. Bonjean added that Hastert never called Murtha, a man he greatly respects, a coward. "Not only does (Kerry) advocate an Iraq policy of cut and run, but he wants you to cut a check to his campaign as well."

Bonjean was referring to a click through button on the bottom of the e-mail letter that asks readers to "Make A Contribution." But Jenny Backus, a Kerry spokeswoman, scoffed at the idea that this was a fundraising pitch, noting it is a standard e-mail template.

"From the White House to the House of Representatives, Republicans have set it up so that whenever anyone raises a question about their failed policies in Iraq, they question their patriotism," Backus told the Grind. "John Kerry will not stand for Swift Boat attacks on Jack Murtha."

And a new CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll notes that a majority of Americans, 69 percent to 28 percent, believe that minors should be required to get parental consent for an abortion. This new poll comes as the U.S. Supreme Court considers the matter of parental consent this week. (Full Story)

Political Hot Topics

Posted 9:28 a.m. ET
Compiled by Julie Hofler, CNN Washington Bureau

CNN: BACK IN COURT, SADDAM HITS OUT AT 'OCCUPIERS' - Deposed Iraqi president Saddam Hussein argued with the judge and complained about Iraq's "occupiers" as his trial for crimes against humanity resumed in a Baghdad court Monday. Hussein, carrying a copy of the Quran under his arm, arrived six and a half minutes late for the court session, the second in the trial of the ex-leader and seven former aides. The previous session opened on October 19 then adjourned for 40 days. CNN Correspondent Nic Robertson said a defense request to adjourn proceedings again for three months to allow more preparation was one of a number of motions being heard Monday. Hussein was seen complaining to Judge Rizgar Mohammed Amin that he had had his pen and paper taken from him and referred to interference by the "occupiers." CNN's Robertson said there was one important addition to the defense team, former U.S. attorney general Ramsey Clark.

WASH. TIMES: BUSH PLANS ANTI-ILLEGALS CAMPAIGNexternal link - President Bush today will call for a crackdown on illegal immigration, a move aimed at further rallying conservatives who recently cheered Mr. Bush's tough talk on Iraq and the Supreme Court. But the president will also renew his call for a program to allow Mexicans who have already entered the U.S. illegally to remain here for up to six years. Mr. Bush will deliver his speech at the Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Tucson, about 90 miles from the Mexican border, after being briefed by customs and border patrol officials. Tomorrow, he meets with another group of border officials in El Paso, Texas.

NYT: ANOTHER TIME REPORTER ASKED TO TESTIFY IN LEAK CASEexternal link - A second reporter for Time magazine has been asked to testify under oath in the C.I.A. leak case, about conversations she had in 2004 with a lawyer for Karl Rove, the senior White House adviser, the magazine reported on Sunday. The reporter, Viveca Novak (no relation to Robert Novak), who has written about the leak investigation, has been asked to testify by the special counsel in the case, Patrick J. Fitzgerald, about her conversations with Robert D. Luskin, a lawyer for Mr. Rove, the magazine said.

NYT: AS CALLS FOR IRAQ PULLOUT RISE, POLITICAL CALENDARS LOOMexternal link - In public, President Bush has firmly dismissed the mounting calls to set a deadline to begin a withdrawal from Iraq, declaring eight days ago that there was only one test for when the time is right. But in private conversations, American officials are beginning to acknowledge that a judgment about when withdrawals can begin is driven by two political calendars -- one in Iraq and one here -- as much as by those military assessments. As Mr. Bush ends his Thanksgiving holiday in Texas on Monday, both his own aides and American commanders say, he will begin confronting these sometimes conflicting military and political issues, including the midterm Congressional elections in this country, part of a delicate balancing action about how and when to begin extracting American troops from Iraq.

AP/Las Vegas Sun: TWO CONGRESSMAN HURT IN IRAQ VEHICLE FLIPexternal link - A military vehicle carrying three congressmen overturned on the way to the Baghdad airport, injuring two of them, the U.S. Embassy said Sunday. Rep. Tim Murphy, R-Pa., was airlifted to a military hospital in Germany for an MRI on his neck, and Rep. Ike Skelton, D-Mo., was sent to a Baghdad hospital for evaluation, said Rep. Jim Marshall, D-Ga., who was also in the vehicle but was not hurt when it overturned Saturday. The delegation had traveled to Afghanistan for Thanksgiving with the troops and then on to Baghdad to meet with troops there.

USA TODAY: ALITO KEEPS FAVOR OF CONSERVATIVES, MODERATESexternal link - As Alito makes the rounds on Capitol Hill -- meeting with senators who will vote on confirming him as the replacement for retiring Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, a swing vote on abortion and other controversies -- he has achieved an unusual political feat. The veteran federal appeals court judge has managed so far to impress conservatives without losing the support of moderates who disagree with them on such issues as abortion, affirmative action, the environment and the role of religion in public life -- all of which are likely to come before the Supreme Court.

AP/USA TODAY: WARNER SUGGESTS BUSH USE FDR-LIKE 'FIRESIDE CHATS'external link -The chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee on Sunday suggested that President Bush use an FDR-style presentation to update people on progress in the war in Iraq. Sen. John Warner, R-Va., recalled that during World War II, President Franklin D. Roosevelt often went on the radio in "fireside chats" to explain to the nation in detail the conduct of the war in Europe and Asia. "I think it would be to Bush's advantage," said Warner, who served in the Navy during the war.

AP: EX-GREEN PARTY MEMBER TO CHALLENGE CLINTONexternal link - A former Green Party member who advocates an immediate withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq says he will challenge incumbent Hillary Rodham Clinton for the 2006 Democratic nomination for Senate. "She's in favor of the war and in favor of continuing the occupation," Steven Greenfield, a professional saxophone player, told The Associated Press in a telephone interview from his New Paltz home. Greenfield, 44, who has a degree in economics, switched to the Democratic party just last month so he could challenge Clinton. He says he likely will need 15,000 petition signatures statewide to get on next September's ballot.

ROLL CALL: DELAY ACTING QUICKLYexternal link - Rep. Tom DeLay (R-Texas) is positioning himself to immediately reassume the post of House Majority Leader if a Texas judge dismisses allegations that DeLay violated state campaign finance laws back in 2002. DeLay, who was indicted on state money laundering and conspiracy charges in September, is not expected to hear until this week at earliest whether Senior Judge Pat Priest will dismiss the charges or hold a trial. But DeLay and his aides have already drafted a letter to House Republican Conference Chairwoman Deborah Pryce (Ohio) informing her that he is ready to return as Majority Leader, several Republican sources said. The letter was written in anticipation of the possibility that Priest, during last Tuesday's hearing on the DeLay allegations, would dismiss the case. It was never sent to Pryce because Priest asked for more time to consider motions from DeLay's legal team and Travis County District Attorney Ronnie Earle.

AP/KANSAS CITY STAR: COURT WILL LOOK AT STATE'S PARENTAL NOTIFICATION LAWexternal link - To some, a never-enforced New Hampshire law requiring parental notification before a minor has an abortion is a backward step for women's rights. To others, it protects parents' right to know if their child is having an abortion. The U.S. Supreme Court will consider those arguments Wednesday as it begins to weigh whether to reinstate a law that requires parental notification 48 hours before an abortion can be performed on a woman younger than 18.

WASH. POST: MEDICAID CUTBACKS DIVIDE DEMOCRATSexternal link - Controversial House legislation designed to gain control of Medicaid growth has split Democrats, with lawmakers in Washington united in their opposition while Democratic governors are quietly supporting the provisions and questioning the party's reflexive denunciations. The Medicaid provisions have become a flashpoint for the opposition of Democrats -- and some moderate Republicans -- to the $50 billion budget-cutting bill that narrowly passed the House last week. The changes would trim just 1.7 percent from a program expected to spend nearly $2.8 trillion though 2015, but the proposals have prompted bitter condemnation from congressional Democrats.

WASH. TIMES: HASTERT RAPS KERRYexternal link - House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert said Sen. John Kerry was wrong to raise money off the recent House spat over withdrawing troops from Iraq and when he accused the speaker of calling a top House Democrat a "coward." In the hours before the Nov. 18 vote, Mr. Kerry's political action committee (PAC) sent an e-mail urging supporters to rally around Rep. John P. Murtha, the Pennsylvania Democrat, who called for beginning withdrawal from Iraq immediately, and saying, "The speaker of the House who never served -- accused Jack Murtha of being a coward." The e-mail also contained a link for contributing to the Massachusetts Democrat's PAC. Mr. Hastert, in his Web log after Mr. Murtha's call, said Americans "must not cower like European nations," but he did not refer to Mr. Murtha in that sentence or use the word "coward" anywhere in the post. Still, Jenny Backus, an adviser to Mr. Kerry's PAC, said the reference was close enough, noting that "national newspapers characterized his attacks on Murtha as calling him a coward."

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