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David vs. Goliath

By Mark Preston
CNN Political Editor

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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Sen. Evan Bayh (D-Indiana) sent an e-mail yesterday to his political supporters telling them about his recent visit to Iowa to campaign and help raise money for no fewer than 10 Hawkeye State Democrats.

Bayh made no mention of his own future political plans. He didn't have to. It is a given the Indiana Democrat is likely to run for president.

Bayh is one of half a dozen or more Democrats beating a path to this Midwestern state to solicit support for a 2008 presidential bid. As the lead off for the presidential nominating process, a win in Iowa is critical if not altogether needed, to win the Democratic nomination. Former Virginia Gov. Mark Warner (D) is in the state today. Sen. John Kerry (D-Massachusetts) announced this morning he will visit Iowa in late July. Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wisconsin) spends time in the state this weekend, while former Sen. John Edwards (D-North Carolina) just wrapped up a visit. And Gov. Tom Vilsack (D), well he doesn't have to visit the state because he lives there.

Visits to Iowa by these potential presidential candidates are no longer news. Rather it is an afterthought. The next big splash will come when Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-Iowa) decides to visit the state. So far, the "Goliath" of the Democratic presidential primary contest is steering clear of Iowa, focusing instead on her Senate re-election. But when she takes her first step into the state the media wave will be gigantic. Dr. Selden Spencer, a Democratic challenging Rep. Tom Latham (R-Iowa) in November, told CNN's Sasha Johnson that people are talking about Clinton's first visit.

"That does come up every now and then," he said. "It's going to be interesting, because I expect she'll come by somewhere along the way."

But this weekend, Spencer, while not endorsing Bayh, offered words of praise for the Indiana Democrat. "Obviously, he would be a very special candidate and in the Midwest he would resonate very well," he said.

And for Bayh, highlighting his Midwestern roots and success of being re-elected several times in a 'red state' appears to be major themes we will hear from the Indiana Democrat in the coming months.

"If we are going to set a better course, you have to win," Bayh said in a very candid interview with CNN's Candy Crowley and Johnson during his Iowa visit. "So it might be better to have someone who's proven they can win in a red state, not just once or twice but hopefully several times."

Bayh didn't mention Warner by name, nor did he single out any of his other potential rivals. But clearly he is trying to distinguish himself from a very crowded pack. Warner is heralded for winning one term in the red state of Virginia and helping to get Lt. Gov. Tim Kaine (D) elected. Bayh must also differentiate himself from the handful of senators who are also eyeing bids.

"It would be helpful to have a nominee who has a track record as a governor with actually getting things done," he said. "Not just giving speeches and talking about things, but actually doing them."

Then there is the early frontrunner: Clinton. "Is it a little bit of a David versus Goliath situation," Bayh said. "Yeah probably. But as I recall, David did OK."

Bayh said for the Democratic Party to be successful it must convince Americans that Democrats will help keep them safe.

"As much as we want to have a conversation about healthcare and education and jobs and the environment and all those other important things, we're not going to get to have that conversation until people first trust us with their lives," he said.

When will Bayh be back in Iowa? "Soon," he told his political supporters yesterday. "And I'll be sure to email you before I head out."

Round II of immigration hearings

The debate over how to reform the nation's immigration laws rages on and Congress remains ground zero for the issue. House Republican leaders, who oppose President Bush's proposal to allow many illegal immigrants to earn citizenship, will announce a new round of hearings later this morning. Meanwhile, Republican and Democratic senators who support Bush's immigration reform plan will attend an "Interfaith Conference" on the issue. And Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez was scheduled to begin testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee at 9:30 a.m. ET in a hearing titled "Examining the Need for Comprehensive Immigration Reform, Part II."

While the Senate has proven to be Bush's biggest obstacle as he tries to advance his legislative agenda through Congress, on this issue it is his otherwise reliable, likeminded, conservative House leadership that is blocking it. House Republicans argue that Bush's proposal is akin to giving amnesty to the illegal immigrants who are now living and working in the country.

A well placed Republican House source provided the Grind with an early look at what the next round of House hearings will address and when they will happen:

  • July 18th. Do the Reid-Kennedy bill's amnesty provisions repeat the mistakes of the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986? House Judiciary Committee
  • July 19th. What is the impact of the Reid-Kennedy bill on American workers and their workplaces? House Education and the Workforce Committee
  • July 20th. How does the Reid-Kennedy bill compare to the House Border Security bill when it comes to enhancing border infrastructure? House Homeland Security Committee
  • July 26th. What is the role of English in American education and society, and does the Reid-Kennedy bill undermine, rather than encourage, this role? House Education and the Workforce Committee
  • July 27th. Will the Reid-Kennedy bill's amnesty provisions overwhelm the already overburdened U. S. Citizenship and Immigration Services? Will 10-20 million new applicants for citizenship make it easier for criminals and terrorists to evade background checks? House Judiciary Committee
  • July 27th. Does the Reid-Kennedy bill make it more difficult for law enforcement to expedite the removal of illegal aliens from the United States? House Homeland Security Committee
  • July 27th. To what degree is illegal immigration an issue for countries in the Western Hemisphere, and does the Reid-Kennedy bill undercut American diplomatic efforts aimed at curbing illegal immigration? House International Relations Committee
  • Let the countdown begin

    Democrats are expected to take the Senate floor today to begin the "countdown" to the August recess in an effort to try and pressure Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tennessee) to focus the chamber on issues ranging from "college affordability" to a "real debate in Iraq," a Democratic source tells the Grind. Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada) and Senate Minority Whip Richard Durbin (D-Illinois) will lead the effort and the leadership is urging other Democrats to join them, according to a copy of an e-mail sent to all Democratic press secretaries.

    "Our hope is that every day for the rest of this work period Democrats will take to the floor to amplify this message," the leadership states in the e-mail obtained by the Grind. The other issues Democrats will be pressing for action includes stem cells, gas prices and the voting rights act.

    Frist announced this morning that the Senate would turn its attention to stem cell legislation on Monday and finish voting on three different stem cell bills by Tuesday.

    "There's tremendous promise in stem cell research, and I've worked long and hard with my colleagues to bring this serious ethical issue to the floor in a way that encourages thoughtful discussion and deliberation," he said in a statement released by his office.

    For your vacation planning purposes, the Senate is scheduled to be in recess from August 7 through September 4, while the House is expected to be in recess from July 31 through September 4.

    Why run for re-election when you can sing?

    Move over Orrin, there is a new singer in town. Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Nebraska) is the latest member of the "world's most exclusive club" to show off his pipes with a little diddy about what else? Growing up in a "Western Town in Nebraska," of course. Click here to hear the song on Nebraska's KFAB websiteexternal link

    Nelson sings the song in the yet-to-be-released movie "Out of Omaha"external link that stars Dave Foley, Lea Thompson, Patricia Richards and Ethan Phillips.

    "I'm hoping this will really ignite my career," Nelson said yesterday. "I'm hoping I can get a Metamucil commercial or something."

    Nelson said that he is "following in the footsteps" of Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) "who sang in the movie Ocean's 12." Hatch is well known throughout the nation's capital for his "second career" of songwriting and singing.

    "Neither one of us is an American Idol, quality, but we do enjoy singing," Nelson said. But Nelson did note that this is not his first brush with Hollywood fame. As governor, Nelson appeared in an episode of "Candid Camera."

    Still, all of his acting and singing experience apparently did not impress actor-turned-senator-turned actor Fred Thompson (R-Tennessee), who appears in NBC's crime drama "Law & Order."

    "I had dinner with him and (Sen.) John McCain (R-Arizona) and (Sen.) Joseph Lieberman (D-Connecticut) a couple of months ago," Nelson said. "I hinted as much as anyone could ever hint about a cameo on one of his episodes and he ignored every effort on my part to secure one of those. I just thought it would be professional courtesy with my background."

    Hot soup

    What does a dash of Ron Fournier, a sprinkle of Mark McKinnon, a teaspoon of Joe Lockhart, a tablespoon of Matthew Dowd, a cup of Carter Eskew, a quarter stick of Allie Savarino, a drop of Michael Feldman, a smidgen of John deTar, a bit of Chip Smith and a pinch of Bart Barden all mixed get you?

    Apparently a bowl of steaming hot soupexternal link

    Of historical note

    On this day in 1984, Democratic presidential nominee Walter Mondale chose Rep. Geraldine Ferraro (D-New York) to be his running mate.

    DAYAHEAD/Events making news today

  • President Bush and First Lady Laura Bush were scheduled to leave for Germany this morning and are expected to arrive in Rostock-Laage Airport in Rostock, Germany tonight.
  • The House gavels into session at 10 a.m. ET and will turn its attention to the Credit Rating Agency Duopoly Act. The Senate turned on the lights at 9:30 a.m. ET and continues debate on the Homeland Security Appropriations bill.
  • The Senate Judiciary Committee was scheduled to begin a hearing on "Examining the Need for Comprehensive Immigration Reform, Part II" at 9:30 a.m. ET in room 226 of the Dirksen Office Building. Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez leads the list of witnesses testifying on the matter.
  • Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani (R), a prospective presidential candidate, was scheduled to attend an 8 a.m. ET fundraiser for Pennsylvania gubernatorial candidate Lynn Swann (R) in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania. At 5 p.m. ET, Giuliani will attend a fundraiser for Maryland Gov. Robert Ehrlich (R).
  • Former Virginia Gov. Mark Warner (D) begins day two of his visit to Iowa as he explores a presidential bid. At 9:45 a.m. ET, Warner tours the Bucktown Arts Center in Davenport and then meets with Davenport teachers at 10:15 a.m. ET. He attends a 1 p.m. ET fundraising lunch for state Sen. Roger Stewart (D) at Happy's Place Restaurant in Dubuque and then appears at the opening of Democratic Congressional candidate Bruce Braley's office at 5:30 p.m. ET.
  • House Republican leaders and Office of Management and Budget Director Rob Portman hold a 10 a.m. ET press availability at the Capitol Hill Club, 300 First Street, SE.
  • House Democrats hold a press availability outside room 345 of the Cannon Office Building to discuss the economy.
  • House Majority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) and GOP chairmen hold an 11 a.m. ET news conference in the House Radio and Television Gallery to announce a new round of border security/immigration hearings.
  • Sens. Sam Brownback (R-Kansas), Edward Kennedy (D-Massachusetts), John McCain (R-Arizona) and Reps. John Lewis (D-Georgia) and Howard Berman (D-California) attend the Interfaith Comprehensive Immigration Reform Conference at 11:30 a.m. ET. The conference is being held at Jones Day, 51 Louisiana, Avenue, NW.
  • AFL-CIO leaders and union members hold a noon ET rally at the National Labor Relations Board, 1099, 14th Street, NW. The group will "demand that (the board) protect their rights" and pledges to engage in "civil disobedience."
  • A civil lawsuit against disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff will be announced at noon ET in Austin, Texas.
  • Sen. Barack Obama (D-Illinois) delivers a 12:30 p.m. ET keynote address to the Campus Progress National Student Conference taking place at the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel. Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisconsin) delivers the closing speech at 5:40 p.m. ET.
  • House and Senate Democrats hold a 12:30 p.m. ET news conference to "discuss Republican economic failures and rising gas prices" at the Congressional Exxon, 200 Massachusetts Ave, NE.
  • Senate Democrats hold a 1:45 p.m. ET news conference on the minimum wage in the Senate Radio and Television Gallery.
  • Rep. Mike Pence (R-Indiana) and others join Americans for Tax Reform President Grover Norquist at his organization's "Annual Cost of Government Day Press Conference." The news conference will be held at 2:30 in room 441 of the Cannon House Office Building.
  • The House Rules Committee meets at 3 p.m. ET in room H-313 to report a rule on the Fannie Lou Hammer, Rosa Parks, and Coretta Scott King Voting Rights Act Reauthorization Act of 2006. The House is expected to take it up on Thursday.
  • POLITICAL HOT TOPICS

    Compiled by Stephen Bach

    CNN Washington Bureau

    NOVAK NAMES ROVE, CIA'S HARLOW AS SOURCES IN COLUMN: "Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald has informed my attorneys that, after 2-1/2 years, his investigation of the CIA leak case concerning matters directly relating to me has been concluded. That frees me to reveal my role in the federal inquiry that, at the request of Fitzgerald, I have kept secret. I have cooperated in the investigation while trying to protect journalistic privileges under the First Amendment and shield sources who have not revealed themselves. I have been subpoenaed by and testified to a federal grand jury. Published reports that I took the Fifth Amendment, made a plea bargain with the prosecutors or was a prosecutorial target were all untrue." Chicago Sun-Times: Novak: My role in Plame leak probeexternal link

    ADMIN WILL ADHERE TO GENEVA CONVENTIONS: The Bush administration has agreed to apply the Geneva Conventions to all terrorism suspects in U.S. custody, bowing to the Supreme Court's recent rejection of policies that have imprisoned hundreds for years without trials. The Pentagon announced yesterday that it has called on military officials to adhere to the conventions in dealing with al-Qaeda detainees. The administration also has decided that even prisoners held by the CIA in secret prisons abroad must be treated in accordance with international standards, an interpretation that would prohibit prisoners from being subjected to harsh treatment in interrogations, several U.S. officials said. Washington Post: U.S. Shifts Policy on Geneva Conventionsexternal link

    BUSH TAKES "VICTORY LAP" IN ANNOUNCING NEW DEFICIT NUMBER: This year's federal deficit is now projected to be $296 billion, President Bush announced yesterday, $127 billion less than predicted just six months ago and leaving the administration a year ahead of its pledge to cut the deficit in half by 2009. "This economy's growing, federal taxes are rising, and we're cutting the federal deficit faster than we expected," Mr. Bush said, turning the administration's annual midsession budget review report to Congress into a victory lap for his tax-cutting policies during his first term. But Mr. Bush said tackling the deficit in the long run will require action on Social Security, and he challenged Congress to stop posturing on the issue and instead to have a "sense of obligation" to fix it. Washington Times: '06 projected federal deficit falls to $296 billionexternal link

    PUTIN CALLS CHENEY'S CRITICISM "AN UNSUCCESSFUL HUNTING SHOT": President Vladimir Putin lashed out at Vice President Dick Cheney ahead of this weekend's G-8 summit, calling his recent criticisms of Russia "an unsuccessful hunting shot," according to a television interview being broadcast Wednesday. The remark, from an interview with NBC, referred to the shotgun blast by Cheney on a hunting trip that accidentally wounded a companion. Cheney, in a May speech in the ex-Soviet republic of Lithuania, accused Russia of cracking down on religious and political rights and of using its energy reserves as "tools of intimidation or blackmail." AP via Yahoo! News: Putin rips Cheney's verbal 'hunting shot'external link

    "WHAT ELSE IS IT THAT WE DON'T KNOW?" The Republican chairwoman of a House subcommittee said Tuesday that the Bush administration had failed to inform Congress adequately that it was sifting through a vast international banking network in an effort to track terrorists' finances. The lawmaker, Representative Sue Kelly of New York, chairwoman of the House Financial Services subcommittee on oversight, was joined by members of both parties in accusing the administration of being too secretive and unaccountable to Congress about the program. Its existence was disclosed last month by The New York Times and other newspapers. "Many people in Congress who should have been briefed by the administration were not," Ms. Kelly said. "What else is it that we don't know?" New York Times: Republicans Criticize Lack of Briefings on Bank Dataexternal link

    WILL THE "DO-NOTHING" LABEL HURT GOP IN THE MID-TERMS? Republicans head into the final stretch of what Democrats are calling a "do-nothing Congress" that has achieved none of the key items of President George W. Bush's agenda. Just a year and a half after Republicans increased their majorities in the 2004 elections, Bush's Social Security overhaul plan has been shelved, his vow to restructure the tax code postponed indefinitely and his calls for reshaping medical malpractice long-forgotten. The administration's current major initiative, an overhaul of the nation's immigration laws, is hanging by a thread on Capitol Hill. Republicans may pay a price for their inaction in this November's election, said David Mayhew, a congressional scholar at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut. "If they get into September and they still have not done anything on immigration, then they are heavily subject to the charge that they can't tie their shoes," he said. Bloomberg: 'Do-Nothing' Label May Haunt Republicans in Congressional Racesexternal link

    HOUSE APPROVES "CRACKDOWN" ON ONLINE GAMBLING: With bipartisan support and the Jack Abramoff lobbying scandal haunting Republican efforts to pass antigambling legislation, the House approved a crackdown on Internet wagering that would ban not only sports bets but also online poker and other games that have become increasingly popular. Voting 317 to 93, the House approved a bill that would make it illegal for financial institutions or intermediaries to process payments to offshore casinos through bettors' electronic funds, checks, debits and other e-wallet transactions. In addition, the bill updates the Wire Act of 1961, which forbade the transmission of betting over telephone lines, to specifically outlaw online gambling through any communication network. New York Times: House Backs Crackdown on Gambling on Internetexternal link

    PELOSI WILL TAKE ATTENDANCE: With attendance typically struggling to crack the 50-Member mark, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) is cracking the whip, demanding that her fellow Democrats attend three "crucial" Caucus meetings between now and the August recess  an order supplemented by a fellow leader's hint that failure to cooperate could be detrimental to Members' futures. In a "Dear Colleague" letter sent early Tuesday afternoon, Pelosi told Members that attendance will be taken at the weekly hour-long sessions this morning and each of the next two Wednesdays, with Democrats using the sessions to discuss their "New Direction" agenda. "These crucial meetings will begin at 9:00 a.m. and end promptly at 10:00 a.m.," Pelosi wrote. "The meetings are mandatory and I have asked [Caucus Chairman James Clyburn (S.C.)] to take attendance." Roll Call: Pelosi Planning to Take Namesexternal link

    INDIANA HAS THE MOST TERRORIST TARGETS: It reads like a tally of terrorist targets that a child might have written: Old MacDonald's Petting Zoo, the Amish Country Popcorn factory, the Mule Day Parade, the Sweetwater Flea Market and an unspecified "Beach at End of a Street." But the inspector general of the Department of Homeland Security, in a report released Tuesday, found that the list was not child's play: all these "unusual or out-of-place" sites "whose criticality is not readily apparent" are inexplicably included in the federal antiterrorism database. The National Asset Database, as it is known, is so flawed, the inspector general found, that as of January, Indiana, with 8,591 potential terrorist targets, had 50 percent more listed sites than New York (5,687) and more than twice as many as California (3,212), ranking the state the most target-rich place in the nation. New York Times: U.S. Terror Targets: Petting Zoo and Flea Market?external link

    ROVE CHEERED, JEERED AT LA RAZA: White House political strategist Karl Rove touted "shared values" of faith and family and reiterated President Bush's support of broad immigration reform in a Los Angeles address Tuesday to one of the nation's largest Latino civil rights organizations. In a lunchtime talk at the National Council of La Raza's annual conference, the Republican advisor outlined Bush's plan for stronger border security, workplace enforcement, a guest worker program and earned legalization for undocumented immigrants. "He understands immigration is a positive force in this country... vital to keep this country going," Rove said, prompting applause from the crowd of a few thousand. But he drew scattered boos when he highlighted Bush's recent approval of $1.9 billion in funding for more border security, including deployment of National Guard troops, and was disrupted twice by hecklers who unfurled antiwar and anti-Bush banners. Los Angeles Times: Rove Tells of 'Shared Values' With Latinosexternal link

    LOCKHART, DOWD, McKINNON TO LAUNCH WEBSITE: A bipartisan group of prominent political strategists on Tuesday announced an Internet information venture designed to interact with America's opinion leaders and serve as an antidote to the right-left clash that typifies political discourse on the Web. The site, called Hotsoup.com, will debut in October and will be edited by Ron Fournier, former chief political writer for The Associated Press. Hotsoup is the brainchild of some of the best-known practitioners of partisan politics in Washington, including Matthew Dowd, chief strategist for the Bush-Cheney campaign in 2004, and Joe Lockhart, former White House press secretary under President Clinton and a senior adviser to Democratic Sen. John Kerry's 2004 presidential campaign. AP via Yahoo! News: Political strategists to launch Web siteexternal link

    ARMY SEVERS CONTRACT WITH HALLIBURTON: The Army is discontinuing a controversial multibillion-dollar deal with oil services giant Halliburton Co. to provide logistical support to U.S. troops worldwide, a decision that could cut deeply into the firm's dominance of government contracting in Iraq. The choice comes after several years of attacks from critics who saw the contract as a symbol of politically connected corporations profiteering on the war. Under the deal, Halliburton had exclusive rights to provide the military with a wide range of work that included keeping soldiers around the world fed, sheltered and in communication with friends and family back home. Government audits turned up more than $1 billion in questionable costs. Whistle-blowers told how the company charged $45 per case of soda, double-billed on meals and allowed troops to bathe in contaminated water. Washington Post: Army to End Expansive, Exclusive Halliburton Dealexternal link

    MARK WARNER LOOKING GENEROUS: Former Virginia Gov. Mark Warner (D) has ramped up his fundraising for congressional Democratic incumbents and challengers, signaling a national organizing strategy to position the centrist Southerner for a White House bid in 2008... Since Warner began raising money after the 2005 November election, Forward Together has raked in $8.2 million and contributed $860,500 to 108 candidates and political committees. He has hired several top Democratic political consultants, including longtime Democratic operative Monica Dixon, pollster Peter Hart and New Democrat political guru and speechwriter Kenneth Baer. The Hill: Eyeing '08, Warner woos his party with $860,500external link

    REED'S CAMPAIGN PLAGUED BY ABRAMOFF CONNECTIONS: Former Christian Coalition leader Ralph Reed, whose campaign for Georgia lieutenant governor has been clouded by questions over his ties to disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff, is promoting himself as the candidate with "stronger values." His opponent, state Sen. Casey Cagle, has responded by calling Reed's campaign ads the "height of hypocrisy" and questioning publicly whether Reed could be charged with wrongdoing during the run-up to the November general election. Reed seemed unstoppable last year when he first announced his intention to run for the seat. In his first campaign for elected office, he broke early fundraising records and scared other would-be Republican contenders out of running in the July 18 primary. Cagle, though, has gained momentum and name recognition since concerns over Reed's ties with Abramoff have grabbed headlines across the state. AP via Yahoo! News: Questions hover over Reed campaign in Ga.external link

    ROMNEY CALLS FOR OUSTER OF TURNPIKE CHAIRMAN: With a Big Dig flaw now responsible for a death, state officials rushed yesterday to contain an unprecedented crisis of public confidence in the project, launching a sprawling criminal investigation and moving to oust the Turnpike Authority chairman. As fear and outrage mounted, Governor Mitt Romney said he does not believe anyone can feel safe driving through the tunnels. ``People should not have to drive through the turnpike tunnels with their fingers crossed," Romney said. Boston Globe: Mass. crisis of confidenceexternal link

    SENATOR STEVENS REMIXED: It was hard enough getting used to Cher going techno. But Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska)? An unauthorized DJ remix of a rant on net neutrality that Stevens delivered at a recent hearing made a huge splash on the Internet on Tuesday. "Ted's Techno Tubes," created by an independent Web logger at www.boldheaded.com, might scare you at first. The remix features audio clips from Stevens' rather bizarre and disjointed speech at a June 28 hearing in the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, when he called the Internet "a series of tubes" and said, "It's not a big truck." Those words are now on a masterful remix, along with other things he actually said at the hearing, including this rambling gem: "Just the other day, an Internet was sent by my staff at 10 o'clock in the morning on Friday and I got it yesterday. Why?" You hear the pulsating techno beat, then Stevens' distinguishable voice shouting "tubes!" over and over. Roll Call: Techno Tedexternal link

    "TANGLED UP TUBES!"external link

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