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Bush confidently predicts GOP wins in November

By Mark Preston
CNN Political Editor


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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- President Bush predicted Thursday that Republicans would maintain control of Congress after the November elections and vowed to continue criss-crossing the country in the coming months to help elect GOP candidates.

"We're right on winning this war on terror, and we've got a good economic record," said a confident Bush, in an exclusive interview on CNN's 'Larry King Live.' "People are working under the leadership of this administration and the Congress."

Bush sidestepped a question about campaigning for the eventual Republican presidential nominee in 2008 by saying he was "trying to get through the '06 elections."

Today, Bush is in Illinois and will attend a fundraiser for GOP gubernatorial nominee Judy Baar Topinka. CNN's Robert Yoon reports that this is Bush's 44th fundraising event of his second term and he has raised over $155 million for GOP candidates and party committees since Jan. 2005. The Topinka campaign estimates they will raise $1.2 million from today's event that will be attended by about 500 people.

In the interview with CNN's King, Bush also spoke on subjects ranging from Osama bin Laden and Iraq to North Korea, immigration reform and the late Ken Lay.

Here is a full transcript of the interviewexternal link

Lieberman and Lamont trade barbs

Sen. Joe Lieberman (D-Connecticut) came out swinging last night against his primary challenger Ned Lamont, accusing him of running a campaign based on one issue: Iraq. In a one hour nationally televised debate, Lieberman also charged that Lamont was misrepresenting his relationship with President Bush and criticized the challenger for questioning his loyalty to the Democratic Party.

"I'm a Democrat with a 35 year record of fighting for progressive causes, for the middle class, for civil rights, for women's rights, for human rights and a lot more," Lieberman said. "I voted with my Senate Democratic colleagues 90 percent of the time. And when I have disagreed, I have had the courage of my convictions to say so. That's who I am. That's who I have been. And that's what I offer Connecticut voters for the next six years -- experience, principles and results."

For his part, Lamont did not shy away from the Bush-Lieberman comparison.

"Senator Lieberman, if you won't challenge President Bush on his failed agenda, I will," Lamont said. (Read down for full local and national coverage of the debate)

Lieberman's support for the Iraq war has fueled Lamont's campaign to win the Democratic nomination. Lieberman has acknowledged that he might lose the Aug. 8 primary. If this happens, Lieberman said he will remain a Democrat, but pursue an independent bid to win re-election. Several of his colleagues have already said they would not support him or will not commit to supporting him, if he lost the primary. The latest non-committer is Sen. Evan Bayh (D-Indiana), CNN's Sasha Johnson reports.

At an event in Des Moines, Iowa on Thursday, Bayh unequivocally said he would go to Connecticut to campaign for Lieberman prior to the primary if asked to do so. But when pressed about whether he would support Lieberman if he lost the primary, Bayh sidestepped the question by calling it "hypothetical." He added, "I think he is going to win the primary."

Bush would not weigh in on Lieberman's primary fight during an exclusive interview Thursday with CNN's Larry King.

"The Democrats have to sort out who their nominee is going to be and that's going to be up to the Democrats," Bush said.

When King tried to prod the President to elaborate on his answer by noting that he likes the Connecticut Democrat, Bush refused to take the bait.

"You're trying to get me to give him a political kiss, which may be his death," Bush said.

(To get an insider's perspective on the Lieberman/Lamont race, tune into CNN's Reliable Sources on Sunday at 10 a.m. ET. Hartford Courant Washington Bureau Chief David Lightman will be Howard Kurtz's guest).

Full transcript of the debate via The Washington Postexternal link

What Connecticut voters are reading this morning:

The Hartford Courantexternal link

Connecticut Postexternal link

Greenwich Timeexternal link

AP/New Haven Registerexternal link

Republican-Americanexternal link


The New York Timesexternal link

What bloggers are saying about the debate:


The GOP's DeLay dilemma

Texas Republicans are appealing U.S. District Judge Sam Sparks ruling Thursday that former Rep. Tom DeLay's (R-Texas) name must remain on the November ballot. But what if they lose the appeal? What does DeLay do? Will the Hammer come out of retirement to run for a 12th term? Or will he remain on the sidelines? His daughter, Dani DeLay Ferro, released a statement yesterday predicting that Spark's "ill-advised decision ... will be overturned" and reiterated DeLay's claim that as a resident of Virginia he is ineligible to be on the Texas ballot. Ferro made no mention of the possibility that DeLay would run if the court decision stands. A source close to DeLay told the Grind it was highly unlikely that the former House majority leader would reverse course and run for the seat.

The source suggested DeLay would unequivocally state he would not run and would not serve in Congress if elected.

"He will do the smartest thing," the source said. The source noted that DeLay resigned from Congress because he realized re-election to this suburban Houston-based seat was in doubt and that "calculus" has not changed. And the source said that DeLay realizes that if he got back into the race it would also have national implications for other midterm contests. Still, there would be encouragement from state and national Republicans to vote for DeLay in November. If DeLay won and refused to serve, a special election would need to be held, thus allowing the GOP to put their nominee on the ballot.

"A vote for Tom DeLay is a vote for choice, and a vote for a Republican," the source said.

A half a dozen Republicans interested in replacing DeLay must now wait to see how things shake out. As for former Rep. Nick Lampson (Texas), the Democratic nominee, he has just gone up on the air with ads.

U.S. job growth weak again

New employment numbers were released this morning. While more than 120,000 jobs were added, it fell short of the 160,000 figure that had been predicted. Read more from CNNMoney.comexternal link

The White House has a different spin. From a press release this morning:

Job Creation Continues -- 5.4 Million Jobs Created Since August 2003

Today, The Government Released New Jobs Figures -- 121,000 Jobs Created In June. The economy has created about 1.85 million jobs over the past 12 months -- and more than 5.4 million since August 2003. The unemployment rate is 4.6 percent -- lower than the average of the 1960s, 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s.

Colin Powell takes ill

Former U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell was treated at an Aspen, Colorado hospital early Friday after feeling sick at a local restaurant, a hospital spokeswoman said.

"He felt unwell at the restaurant, came in for observation," said Aspen Valley Hospital supervisor Belinda Faulhaber.

The Associated Press reports that Powell was in Aspen for the Ideas Festival that draws "some of the world's leading thinkers."

DAYAHEAD/Events making news today and through the weekend

  • President Bush wakes up in Illinois this morning and starts his day by having breakfast with area business leaders at 9:35 a.m. ET in Chicago. At 10:50 a.m. ET he makes a statement and holds a press conference at the Museum of Science and Industry. Bush mixes politics and policy with this visit when he attends a 1:15 p.m. ET fundraiser for GOP gubernatorial nominee Judy Baar Topinka at the Drake Hotel. Following the fundraiser, Bush visits Aurora to tour the Cabot Microelectronics Corporation at 3 p.m. ET, followed by a 3:25 p.m. ET statement on his "American Competitiveness Initiative."
  • The Senate is not in session. It returns at 2 p.m. ET on July 10. The House is not in session. It returns at 2 p.m. ET on July 10.
  • Texas Democratic Reps. Charlie Gonzalez, Ruben Hinojosa, Silvestre Reyes and Texas Democratic state Rep. Richard Raymond hold a 10:30 a.m. ET news conference at the La Posada Hotel and Suites in Laredo, Texas, to talk about immigration reform.
  • The House International Terrorism and Nonproliferation subcommittee holds an 11 a.m. ET hearing on illegal immigration at the La Posada Hotel and Suites in Laredo, Texas.
  • Vice President Cheney and Sen. George Allen (R-Virginia) visit Naval Station Norfolk (Virginia) to welcome home the Nassau Expeditionary Force at 3 p.m. ET.
  • Former Sen. John Edwards (D-North Carolina), who is considering another run for president, is in Iowa today and attends a 12:45 p.m. ET fundraiser in Cedar Rapids for Democratic candidate Dave Loebsack, who is running against Rep. Jim Leach (R-Iowa). At 2:15 p.m. ET, Edwards holds a press conference in Cedar Rapids after meeting with victims of predatory lenders. Edwards then attends a 7 p.m. ET BBQ for Warren County Democrats in Indianola. On Saturday, Edwards heads to Cincinnati, Ohio to "join the Ohioans for a fair minimum wage coalition to support its effort to raise Ohio's minimum wage" at 2:45 p.m. ET. Edwards speaks on Sunday to the 2006 ACORN National Convention being held at Ohio State University in Columbus.
  • Sen. Evan Bayh (D-Indiana) begins his second day in Iowa touring the state and attending fundraisers for state Democrats as he weighs a presidential run. He tapes an interview with Iowa Public Television at 10:45 a.m. ET. Bayh attends a 6:15 p.m. ET event with state Sen. Roger Stewart (D) and state Rep. Polly Bukta (D) in Clinton. He then attends an 8:15 p.m. ET event in Davenport for Democratic candidate Bruce Bailey, who is running for the House seat being vacated by Rep. Jim Nussle (R-Iowa). On Saturday, Bayh attends a 10:30 a.m. ET event honoring state Rep. Nathan Reichert (D) in Muscatine and at 1 p.m. ET he stops by an event honoring state Sen. Tom Courtney (D). In the evening, Bayh attends an event for Democratic candidate Dave Loebsack, who is running against Rep. Jim Leach (R-Iowa). Bayh wraps up the night by attending an 8:15 p.m. ET event for Democratic state House candidate Jan Kvach, Tyler Olson and Art Staed in Cedar Rapids.
  • Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney (R), a potential presidential candidate, attends a 12:40 p.m. ET fundraiser in St. Louis, Missouri for former Rep. Asa Hutchison (R), who is running for governor of Arkansas. At 6:30 p.m. ET, Romney attends a fundraiser for House Majority Whip Roy Blunt (R-Missouri) in Springfield, Missouri.
  • Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (R), who is also exploring a presidential bid, is in Iowa Saturday and attends a fundraiser for GOP state House candidate Connie Jacobsen in Atkins. On Sunday, Huckabee attends events for GOP state House candidates Matt Reisetter and Patrick Grassley as well as Republican state Rep. David Lalk.

    Compiled by CNN's Stephen Bach

    BUSH WANTS NATIONS TO ADDRESS NORTH KOREA WITH "ONE VOICE": President Bush pressed the leaders of China and Russia yesterday to join the United States in sending a tough message to North Korea for this week's missile launches, and said the world needs to speak with "one voice" to force the communist nation to adhere to international rules. But a U.S. drive for tough sanctions against North Korea encountered immediate obstacles. In his first comments about the controversy, Russian President Vladimir Putin said concern about the missile tests should not trigger an emotional response that would "drown out common sense." Washington Post: After Missiles, Calls Go Outexternal link

    W ON LKL: President Bush isn't troubled by some of the weakest approval ratings of his presidency, he said Thursday in a wide-ranging birthday interview with CNN's "Larry King Live." "When history looks back, I'd rather be judged as solving problems and being correct, rather than being popular," Bush said. "The president that chases the opinion poll is the president that will have failed policy," Bush said in an exclusive joint interview along with his wife, Laura, at the White House. CNN: Bush: I'd rather be right than popular Full transcript:

    HARPER'S SURPRISE SPOILED BY REPORTER: Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, visiting the White House, also brought birthday greetings and a surprise gift. But Bush found out about it during a joint press conference in the East Room. A Canadian reporter blew the secret. "Before I ask you a question, I'm just curious, what do you think of that belt buckle the prime minister gave you as a birthday gift, and are you wearing it?" the reporter asked Bush "I hadn't seen it yet," the president replied, laughing. "You gave it away." The reporter continued on with another question but Bush kept talking about the present. "Anyway, thanks for the belt buckle in advance," Bush told Harper. "No problem at all," the prime minister responded. AP via Yahoo! News: President Bush says turning 60 not so badexternal link

    PLOT TO BOMB HOLLAND TUNNEL, FLOOD LOWER NYC: The FBI has uncovered what officials consider a serious plot by jihadists to bomb the Holland Tunnel in hopes of causing a torrent of water to deluge lower Manhattan, the Daily News has learned. The terrorists sought to drown the Financial District as New Orleans was by Hurricane Katrina, sources said. They also wanted to attack subways and other tunnels. Counterterrorism officials are alarmed by the "lone wolf" terror plot because they allegedly got a pledge of financial and tactical support from Jordanian associates of top terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi before he was killed in Iraq, a counterterrorism source told The News. It's not clear, however, if any cash or assistance was delivered. New York Daily News: Bomb tunnel, flood cityexternal link

    NY COURT RULES AGAINST GAY MARRIAGE: New York's highest court rejected yesterday a broad attempt by gay and lesbian couples across the state to win the right to marry under state law, saying that denying marriage to same-sex couples does not violate the State Constitution. By a 4-2 majority, the Court of Appeals found that the State Legislature, in laws dating back nearly 100 years, intended to limit marriage to a union between a man and a woman, and that the Legislature had a rational basis for doing so. The court said it would be up to lawmakers to decide whether same-sex marriage should be permitted, and the ruling had politicians and others mobilizing immediately for a fight in Albany. New York Times: New York Judges Reject Any Right to Gay Marriageexternal link

    DeLAY WILL STAY ON TX BALLOT: U.S. District Judge Sam Sparks ruled Thursday that former U.S. Rep. Tom DeLay, R-Sugar Land, cannot be replaced on the November ballot simply because he moved to the Virginia condominium he has owned for a dozen years. Sparks barred Texas Republican Party Chairwoman Tina Benkiser from allowing party chiefs to replace DeLay, who quit his public office in June after winning the Republican nomination despite having been indicted on money-laundering charges and facing a tough re-election battle because of those legal woes. That leaves DeLay, a lightning rod for Democrats both in Texas and nationally, on the ballot and a line of possible GOP successors in limbo. The Republican Party has promised to appeal, but if it loses, Sparks' decision sets up the odd prospect of DeLay, now a self-proclaimed Virginian, possibly being re-elected and returning to Congress if he moves back to Texas by Election Day. Austin American-Statesman: Judge's ruling keeps DeLay on Texas ballotexternal link

    BUDGET WAR IS OVER IN NJ: Gov. Jon Corzine and Assembly Democrats settled their weeklong budget dispute yesterday, signaling an end to the government shutdown that put tens of thousands of New Jerseyans out of work, paralyzed the courts, closed parks and halted gambling in Atlantic City casinos for the first time in history. With the agreement, Corzine won his battle to raise the state's sales tax to 7 percent, which he called the first step in overcoming "years of failed fiscal policy and one-shot gimmicks" that left state finances in distress. Newark Star-Ledger: State Budget War is Overexternal link

    CASINOS COULD OPEN TONIGHT: Slot machines could be ringing and dealers could be shuffling again in New Jersey's casinos as soon as Friday evening after lawmakers and Gov. John S. Corzine reached a state budget deal that could end a six-day government shutdown. Committees in the Senate and Assembly were set to consider the legislation Friday, clearing the way for a budget vote. Corzine would have to sign an executive order to formally end the shutdown, which also closed state agencies, parks, lottery sales and threw more than 80,000 people out of work. AP via Yahoo! News: N.J. casinos await word to reopenexternal link

    A "RESOUNDING BLOW" AGAINST CHICAGO'S NEW POLITICAL "MACHINE": Striking a resounding blow against what prosecutors called "a new machine" in Chicago politics, a federal jury Thursday convicted Mayor Richard Daley's longtime patronage chief of scheming to reward political workers with city jobs. The prosecution of Robert Sorich and three other former city officials has reached more deeply into Daley's administration than any previous federal case, and prosecutors quickly promised that they are not done at City Hall. "I really can't say anything more than 'stay tuned,'" said First Assistant U.S. Atty. Gary Shapiro. Chicago Tribune: Daley jobs chief guiltyexternal link

    JEFFERSON HIRES "CRISIS COMMUNICATIONS CONSULTANT": U.S. Rep. William Jefferson, the target of a high-profile public corruption probe, has hired a crisis communications consultant whose past clients have included Monica Lewinsky and the family of murdered Washington intern Chandra Levy. Judy Smith, a lawyer who did media relations for former President Bush, will be speaking for Jefferson's legal team, headed by Washington lawyer Robert Trout, said Melanie Roussell, the spokeswoman for his congressional office. Roussell said she will continue to be the spokeswoman for Jefferson's congressional activities. Jefferson, an eight-term Democrat, is listed in FBI documents as the major target of a nearly 16-month federal corruption probe that has produced guilty pleas by a former Jefferson aide and the CEO of a Kentucky company. New Orleans Times-Picayune: Jefferson hires crisis-seasoned PR aideexternal link

    The Morning Grind

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