The Situation: Monday, April 3
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
Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tennessee)
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Posted: 10:05 a.m. ET
Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tennessee) reiterated his opposition to a guest worker provision yesterday, but acknowledged that in order to approve a comprehensive immigration reform bill this year there needs to be compromise on the issue.
The Majority Leader, speaking on CNN's Late Edition, said he was hopeful the Senate would vote on the matter by Friday, before Congress adjourns for its April recess. But to do so, he conceded opponents and supporters of the guest worker program need to view the immigration debate in terms of a "three legged stool." The first and second legs of the stool are enforcement -- on the border and in hiring illegal immigrants, who have successfully made it into the country. The third is to reevaluate the guest worker program that would affect upwards of 12 million illegal immigrants currently residing in the U.S.
"We're going to have to compromise and recognize that ... 12 million people is not a monolithic group," Frist said. "It's not a uniform group. Some have been here 10 years, they're assimilated to our society and they may have a road to a green card.
"But some of those 12 million people here -- in fact, 40 percent -- have been here for less than five years, need to be dealt in a different fashion," Frist added.
The immigration issue has split the Republican Party at a time when national poll numbers indicate that Democrats are within striking distance of winning back the House and Senate majorities. It has also added to the schism that exists between President Bush and Congressional Republicans. Bush, who favors a guest worker program, is now trying to repair the ties with Congress and has charged his new Chief of Staff Josh Bolten with the task, CNN's Suzanne Malveaux reports.
White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan and Treasury Secretary John Snow could become victims of a shakeup at the White House, according to White House and GOP sources. The possible departure of both men from their current posts could be among "several senior level staff" announcements to come within the next couple of weeks, according to several former White House staff, current GOP strategists, and Bush administration officials.
"You're going to have more change than you expect," said one GOP insider.
Several Republican officials said one scenario being floated is having White House Counselor Dan Bartlett replace McClellan, who some people believe has outlived his usefulness and should be moved somewhere else in the administration. At the same time, other sources say McClellan's job is secure.
Despite the administration's public comments of support for Snow, numerous sources in and outside the White House said Bush has been ready to replace Snow for the past year and has been searching for an "acceptable alternative."
The fate of the current head of legislative affairs Candida Wolff is unclear. While many White House insiders said "she is not the problem", describing her as a "nice, smart, hard worker" they added she is "too junior" to turn around the administration's poor relationship with some senior Republicans. Some prominent names to rise to the surface for the position are former Rep. Bill Paxon (R-New York) and former Sen. Phil Gramm (R-Texas).
Expected to survive the shake-up include Karl Rove, the president's top political adviser, Vice President Dick Cheney's team, and Bush's Deputy Chief of Staff Joe Hagin, sources tell Malveaux.
The White House press office declined comment, saying that they never speak about discussions involving personnel.
This afternoon, Bush heads to Cincinnati for Opening Day, where he will throw out the first pitch at 2 p.m. ET. Before taking the pitcher's mound, Bush will visit the Cincinnati Reds and Chicago Cubs clubhouses. CNN's Steve Brusk notes that even though Cincinnati for decades was the traditional site of Major League Baseball's first game, this is the first time a sitting President ever threw out the first pitch in Cincinnati. President Reagan was scheduled to do it in 1981, but the assassination attempt a week earlier prevented him from participating. Bush has thrown out first pitches at season openers in 2001, Milwaukee; 2004, St. Louis; and 2005, Washington. Bush also will be remembered for throwing out the first pitch in the 2001 World Series game in Yankee Stadium following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
While Bush is heading to the ballpark, First Lady Laura Bush will be raising money for Rep. Heather Wilson (R-New Mexico) at a breakfast event in Albuquerque. Afterwards she visits Bel Air Elementary School in Albuquerque to participate in "Helping America's Youth Event." Later in the day, the First Lady visits Boys Town, Nebraska for another "Helping America's Youth Event."
Meanwhile, Moveon.org will announce at 1 p.m. ET that it will target four Republicans with a television ad buy that is scheduled to run through June. The liberal advocacy group tells the Grind it would spend $1.3 million on the ad campaign that singles out Rep. Chris Chocola (R-Indiana), Rep. Thelma Drake (R-Virginia), Rep. Nancy Johnson (R-Connecticut) and Rep. Deborah Pryce (R-Ohio) for allegedly "taking money from oil and energy companies and then supporting laws that give away billions to these companies while ordinary Americans pay more at the pump."
Moveon.org said the ads will run at "saturation levels for 10 days" this month on local television stations in each of the Congressmen's districts and the campaign will continue until June.
And 36 House Democratic candidates will attend a national security training session at the Marriot Wardman Park. Attendees will hear from former Sen. Bob Graham (D-Florida) and former Defense Secretary William Perry. The centrist organization Third Way and SecureUS, a political action committee founded by Rep. Jane Harman (D-California), are hosting the event.
Political Hot Topics
Posted: 10:05 a.m. ET
IN SURPRISE VISIT, RICE STRESSES "IMPATIENCE": In a surprise visit to the Iraqi capital Sunday, the top U.S. and British diplomats told Iraqi leaders they are growing impatient with the slow progress of political negotiations and pressed them to come to an agreement on a new government. U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw's trip to Baghdad came as some members of the leading Shiite religious parties have called for Ibrahim al-Jaafari to renounce his nomination for prime minister. Chicago Tribune: 'Political vacuum' strains patience
MILITARY FAMILIES ASK MEDIA TO MARK "IRAQ LIBERATION DAY": Families of American troops are asking national newspapers and television news networks not to ignore the three-year anniversary Sunday of the day Saddam Hussein fled Baghdad and his statue was toppled. "We are keenly aware that the national media is drawn towards covering milestones and we respectfully request that you not ignore this historic date," Families United for Our Troops and Their Mission wrote to four news network presidents, National Public Radio and four national newspapers. Washington Times: Families seek remembrance of Iraq liberation day
56% OF AMERICANS SUPPORT "TEMPORARY LEGAL STATUS" FOR ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS: Americans are divided about whether illegal immigrants help or hurt the country, a poll finds. More than one-half of those questioned are open to allowing undocumented workers to obtain some temporary legal status so they can stay in the United States. At the same time, people doubt that erecting a fence along the U.S.-Mexico border could help to fix such a complex and enduring problem, an AP-Ipsos poll found. Two-thirds do not think it would work. "You can't go and round up 11 million people and ship them out of the country," said Robert Kelly. The Chicago lawyer is among the 56 percent of Americans who favor offering some kind of legal status. "It just isn't practical," he said. A smaller but still significant share -- 41 percent -- opposes offering any kind of legal status, giving voice to a law-and-order mind-set that bristles at the notion of officially recognizing those who did not play by the rules to get here. AP via Yahoo! News: Poll: Most Open to Letting Immigrants Stay
SEN. FRIST'S "PERILOUS PATH": "Coming into this job, everybody said if you, in your future, ever want to consider running for president of the United States, people said, 'Do not do it,' " Mr. Frist, the Senate Republican leader, said in the stilted syntax for which he is known. He did not listen and confesses he has paid a price. "The real Bill Frist, they don't really see," Mr. Frist continued in an interview on Friday, referring to voters who do not know him in his role as a transplant surgeon who takes medical missions to impoverished lands. "That's the biggest challenge, when people say I can't give a speech, I'm not a politician. I didn't come here to be a politician." New York Times: Frist Is Treading a Perilous Path Leading to 2008
GOP TO WH: "TAKE SOME CREDIT FOR ECONOMY!" Growing consumer confidence and a stronger job market are spurring calls from Republican strategists for the White House to begin aggressively promoting the economy's performance to boost their party in the upcoming elections. Former White House advisers predict that Joshua B. Bolten, President Bush's new chief of staff, will step up a strategy to sell the economy's progress to voters, a majority of whom still perceive it as weak... Complaints by Republican strategists about the White House's not promoting and taking credit for the economy's growth over the past four years have been commonplace for some time. As part of the effort, the Republican National Committee added a new feature to its Web site that catalogues the latest advances in the economy, and last week they had a lot of good news to report. Washington Times: GOP strategists urging Bush to tout strong economy
MEANWHILE, FED. SPENDING GROWS FASTER THAN ANY ADMIN SINCE FDR: Federal spending is outstripping economic growth at a rate unseen in more than half a century, provoking some conservatives to complain that government under Republican control has gotten too big. The federal government is currently spending 20.8 cents of every $1 the economy generates, up from 18.5 cents in 2001, White House budget documents show. That's the most rapid growth during one administration since Franklin Roosevelt. There are no signs that the trend is about to turn around. The House Budget Committee last week rejected a proposal that would require spending hikes to be offset by cuts in other spending or by tax increases. USA Today: Growth in federal spending unchecked
CAMPAIGNS FOCUS ON NEW MEDIA: "Less people are watching regular TV -- they're watching more channels, they're watching TV in a time-shifted environment," said Justin Germany, 26, a campaign consultant who crafted the video in a few hours. "And yet there is a hunger for this, and that's where Web video comes into play." Political campaigns have begun to understand what corporate America already knows: Multiple sources of information and entertainment are making it more difficult for advertisers to reach their target audiences through traditional TV spots. Now, consultants say campaigns are turning to online video -- which can have more emotional impact than a TV ad -- as a form of targeted media to reach particular groups. Washington Post: Campaigns Turning More to Online Videos
FMR. GENERAL CALLS FOR RUMMY'S RESIGNATION: For the second time in two weeks, a former general has called for the resignation of Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld over what both generals described as serious mistakes made in the war in Iraq. In remarks Sunday on the NBC News program "Meet the Press," Gen. Anthony C. Zinni, who once led the United States Central Command and retired from the Marines in 2000, said Mr. Rumsfeld, among others, should be held accountable for tactical mistakes in Iraq. When asked who should resign, General Zinni said, "Secretary of Defense, to begin with," adding that resignations should also come from others responsible for planning the war efforts and from military officials who sat by without pointing out potential problems. New York Times: More Calls for Rumsfeld to Leave
DEFIANT McKINNEY HAS GLOVER, BELAFONTE ON HAND FOR SUPPORT: Even as lawyers for Rep. Cynthia McKinney (D-Ga.) confirmed Friday that warrants could be issued for her arrest following her alleged assault of a Capitol Police officer, they vowed that "this fight has just begun." Speaking Friday evening at a press conference at Howard University, McKinney and her attorneys argued it was the Congresswoman who was assaulted and said they would await the completion of a Capitol Police investigation and then consider filing civil charges against the officer involved. In a brief statement at the press conference, McKinney said, "Let me be clear, this whole incident was instigated by the inappropriate touching and stopping of me, a female black Congresswoman. I deeply regret this incident occurred and I am certain after a full review of the facts, I will be exonerated." Actors Danny Glover and Harry Belafonte were on hand to show their support for the Congresswoman. Roll Call: McKinney: 'I Will Be Exonerated'
HARRIS LOSES CAMPAIGN MANAGER, TOP AIDES: Katherine Harris' U.S. Senate campaign lost what was left of its core team when a top adviser, campaign manager and communications director resigned this weekend. Harris, a Republican congresswoman challenging incumbent Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson, said Saturday she would introduce new members of her campaign early in the week. "We are stronger as a campaign today than we were yesterday," Harris said in a press release. Harris said her campaign has lined up people who believe in her candidacy, are committed, and support the "values of mainstream Florida citizens." Former campaign manager Jim Dornan, who resigned in November, said, "She had the best people in the country. She can't get any better than that. AP via Yahoo! News: Katherine Harris Campaign Loses Core Staff
ARNOLD'S "PRIVATE SIDE": A look at Schwarzenegger in unguarded moments reveals a governing style more freewheeling and improvisational. Interviews with three dozen aides, advisors and former staff members portray a man whose moves are often difficult to predict, who likes to keep people off balance. Mercurial in temperament, he can be by turns disarming and fun, demanding and brusque. He works hard. Schwarzenegger can spend days poring over color-coded spreadsheets to prepare for tough negotiations. And he has devoted himself to befriending, wheedling, charming and baiting lawmakers in hopes of cementing alliances. So far, a durable governing coalition has eluded him. Schwarzenegger has chalked up many of his troubles in office to the power of special interests and legislators resistant to reform. But insiders say his policy setbacks and slide in the polls may also owe to stubbornness, a taste for flashy Hollywood-style -- but politically unrealistic -- moves and a naivete about politics in general. Los Angeles Times: The Private Side of His Governance
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