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Edwards and Spratt call on DCCC to pull down web video

By Mark Preston
CNN Political Editor


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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Democratic Reps. Chet Edwards (Texas) and John Spratt (S.C.) have called on the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee to pull down a controversial web video that uses images of flag-draped coffins and a grave of a fallen soldier.

The two Democrats sent letters to DCCC Chairman Rahm Emanuel (Illinois) asking him to remove the video, "America Needs a New Direction,"external linkfrom its website after Republicans accused Democrats of trying to gain politically from the pictures. Emanuel urged political supporters in a fundraising e-mail sent Tuesday to view the video on the DCCC's website.

"I would not have included the clip showing the flag-draped caskets or the clip showing a soldier standing at the grave of a fallen comrade," Spratt wrote Thursday in his letter to Emanuel. "I strongly recommend that you pull this ad and delete both of these clips before running it again."

Chris Turner, Edwards' campaign manager, told the Grind that the Texas Democrat wrote a similar letter to the DCCC chairman.

A DCCC spokesman told the Grind this morning they had no comment on the letters. But House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-California) defended the video yesterday and pointed out that President Bush's top political adviser Karl Rove has spoken about how the GOP needs to capitalize politically on the war.

"I don't know why they are making an issue of this except that, again, it speaks truth to power about what is happening in Iraq," she said.

The video has raised new questions about how the Iraq war can be discussed in the November elections. Privately, Democrats acknowledge that Spratt and Edwards must condemn the video because they represent Republican districts.

In Edwards Waco-based district, Bush soundly defeated Sen. John Kerry (D-Massachusetts) 70 percent to 30 percent in the 2004 presidential contest, while Edwards won re-election that same year by a 51 percent to 47 percent margin. Edwards is favored to win re-election again this year, but his GOP opponent Van Taylor is an Iraq war veteran and he is trying to capitalize on the DCCC video. In South Carolina, Spratt is also coming under fire from his GOP opponent, state Rep. Ralph Norman. Bush received 57 percent of the vote in Spratt's Rock Hill based-district in 2004 compared to Kerry's 42 percent. Spratt sailed to re-election that same year with 63 percent of the vote, but he is expected to face a tougher challenge from Norman.

House Republican leaders have urged candidates to speak out against the video this weekend as they travel throughout their districts. For example, Rep. Thelma Drake (R-Virginia) is holding a news conference with veterans in Virginia Beach this afternoon to condemn it.

Avoiding 'advice' overload

First Lady Laura Bush told a German journalist in an interview that, of course, she gives President Bush advice but does so in small doses. And she noted that it is impossible not to discuss politics, after all they live "above the shop."

Excerpted from a transcript provided by the White House:

Q. Do you actually give advice to your husband, even critical or controversial advice?

MRS. BUSH: Sure, doesn't every wife give their husband some advice? But I also am aware that I don't want him to give me a lot of advice or criticism, so I refrain from criticizing too much.

Q. Do you actually discuss politics in your marriage at all?

MRS. BUSH: Sure, of course. I mean, we live politics. We live in the White House. We live above the shop, so to speak, because the Oval Office is right there where we both live and work. So we constantly discuss issues and politics. That's what we think about all day and that's what the President is faced with every day in his office, of course.

Q. Is it sometimes controversial? Do you have a different point of view sometimes?

MRS. BUSH: Sometimes we have a different point of view.

Q. What about?

MRS. BUSH: We also have been married for a long time; we have a real understanding of each other. So even when we might differ on an issue, I understand where he comes from on that issue and I think he understands my point of view, as well.

Hastert hospitalized

House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Illinois) was hospitalized Thursday for a skin infection that is expected to keep him off his feet for a few days. Doctors are treating Hastert for cellulitis, a bacterial infection that first appeared on his lower left leg a few days ago. If left untreated, it can spread quickly and be life threatening, according to the Mayo Clinic's website. But Hastert is expected to be back to work next week.

DAYAHEAD/Events making news today and this weekend

  • President Bush arrived in St. Petersburg and meets with Russia's Vladimir Putin before the G8 Summit.
  • The House is not in session. It returns on Monday, July 17 at 12:30 p.m. ET. The Senate gaveled into session at 9:45 a.m. ET and turns to Morning Business.
  • Valerie Plame and former Ambassador Joe Wilson announce a lawsuit against I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, Vice President Cheney and Karl Rove at 10 a.m. ET in the National Press Club.
  • The Senate subcommittee on Education and Early Childhood Development holds a 10:30 a.m. ET hearing on "A fresh start for New Orleans' children: Improving education after Katrina" at 400 Royal Street in New Orleans, Louisiana.
  • The Senate subcommittee on Bioterrorism and Public Health Preparedness holds a 1:45 p.m. ET hearing on "Lessons learned from Katrina in Public Healthcare" at 400 Royal Street in New Orleans, Louisiana.
  • Vice President Cheney attends a 6 p.m. ET fundraiser for GOP House candidate Ray Meier in Utica, New York.
  • Republican National Committee Chairman Ken Mehlman keynotes the Alabama Republican Party's Annual Summer Dinner at 8 p.m. ET in Birmingham, Alabama.
  • Sen. John McCain (R-Arizona), a potential presidential nominee, attends a fundraiser tonight for GOP House candidate Mike Whalen in Cedar Falls, Iowa. On Saturday, McCain attends a fundraiser for GOP House candidate David McSweeney in Barrington Hills, Illinois. And he campaigns for Rep. Jim Gerlach (R-Pennsylvania) in Malvern, Pennsylvania on Sunday.
  • Sen. George Allen (R-Virginia), a potential presidential nominee, speaks at the "Soul of Virginia Magazine's Know your history ... know your story" program at 12:30 p.m. Saturday in Charlottesville, Virginia.
  • Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wisconsin), a potential presidential candidate, appears in Iowa at the Dubuque County Democratic Party headquarters at 3:30 p.m. ET on Saturday. At 6 p.m. ET, Feingold attends a fundraiser for the Iowa State House Caucus in Dubuque. On Sunday, Feingold makes stops in Maquoketa, Clinton and Davenport, Iowa to meet with local officials and Iowa Democrats.

    Compiled by CNN's Stephen Bach

    PLAME, WILSON SUE CHENEY LIBBY AND ROVE: Former CIA officer Valerie Plame and her husband, former ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV, filed a lawsuit yesterday against Vice President Cheney, presidential adviser Karl Rove and former vice presidential aide I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, accusing the three of violating their constitutional rights in retaliation for Wilson's criticism of President Bush. Plame and Wilson say that, after Wilson accused Bush of twisting intelligence about Iraq's pursuit of weapons of mass destruction, Cheney, Rove and Libby conspired to "discredit, punish and seek revenge against the plaintiffs that included, among other things, disclosing to members of the press Plaintiff Valerie Plame Wilson's classified CIA employment." Washington Post: Vice President Sued by Plame And Husbandexternal link

    BUSH "FREEFALL" OVER, BUT SOME SCARY NUMBERS FOR GOP: Republicans are in jeopardy of losing their grip on Congress in November. With less than four months to the midterm elections, the latest Associated Press-Ipsos poll found that Americans by an almost 3-to-1 margin hold the GOP-controlled Congress in low regard and profess a desire to see Democrats wrest control after a dozen years of Republican rule... The AP-Ipsos poll of 1,000 adults conducted Monday through Wednesday found that President Bush has stopped his political freefall, with his approval rating of 36 percent basically unchanged from last month... The AP-Ipsos survey asked 789 registered voters if the election for the House were held today, would they vote for the Democratic or Republican candidate in their district. Democrats were favored 51 percent to 40 percent. AP via Yahoo! News: Most Americans plan to vote for Democratsexternal link

    WH TO "TEST THE CONSTITUTIONALITY" OF WARRANTLESS WIRETAPS: After months of resistance, the White House agreed Thursday to allow a secret intelligence court to review the legality of the National Security Agency's program to conduct wiretaps without warrants on Americans suspected of having ties to terrorists. If approved by Congress, the deal would put the court, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, in the unusual position of deciding whether the wiretapping program is a legitimate use of the president's power to fight terrorism. The aim of the plan, Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales told reporters, would be to "test the constitutionality" of the program. New York Times: Bush Would Let Secret Court Sift Wiretap Processexternal link

    "DEEPLY DIVIDED" ON DETAINEE RIGHTS: Three days of congressional testimony this week by senior Bush administration officials about U.S. treatment of detainees in the war on terrorism have made clear that the administration remains deeply divided on the issue and unsure how to replace a key policy that the Supreme Court declared illegal two weeks ago. Interagency divisions normally kept hidden from public view have been on unusual display as officials from the Justice Department and the Pentagon have offered starkly different accounts of the administration's reaction to the court's opinion, baffling members of Congress and other interested parties about U.S. intentions. Washington Post: Policy Rewrite Reveals Rift in Administration

    BUSH'S "BOAR BANTER": With the world's most perplexing problems weighing on him, President Bush has sought comic relief in a certain pig. This is the wild game boar that German chef Olaf Micheel bagged for Bush and served Thursday evening at a barbecue in Trinwillershagen, a tiny town on the Baltic Sea where the boar chef also serves as second deputy mayor... The president's host, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, started a serious ball rolling at this news conference in the 13th Century town hall on the cobblestone square of Stralsund. But Bush seemed more focused on "the feast" promised later. "Thanks for having me," Bush told the chancellor. "I'm looking forward to that pig tonight."... When an American reporter asked Bush whether he is concerned about the Israeli bombing of the Beirut airport and about Iran's failure to respond to an offer for negotiations that the U.S. and its European allies have made, Bush replied with more boar jokes before delving into the substance of the questions. "I thought you were going to ask about the pig," said the president, promising a full report from the barbecue. "I'll tell you about the pig tomorrow." Chicago Tribune: Hogging the humor spotlightexternal link

    VOTING RIGHTS ACT EXTENDED: The House voted overwhelmingly on Thursday to renew expiring provisions of the Voting Rights Act after supporters of it defeated challenges mounted by conservative opponents. The 390-to-33 vote on the landmark civil rights act capped a day of impassioned debate that heightened the politically charged atmosphere surrounding race and ethnicity, already aggravated by the recent fight in Congress over immigration.New York Times: After Challenges, House Approves Renewal of Voting Actexternal link

    VOTING FOR, AND PAYING FOR, TWO ENTIRELY DIFFERENT THINGS: Less than two months after voting overwhelmingly to build 370 miles of new fencing along the border with Mexico, the Senate yesterday voted against providing funds to build it. "We do a lot of talking. We do a lot of legislating," said Sen. Jeff Sessions, the Alabama Republican whose amendment to fund the fence was killed on a 71-29 vote. "The things we do often sound very good, but we never quite get there." Mr. Sessions offered his amendment to authorize $1.8 billion to pay for the fencing that the Senate voted 83-16 to build along high-traffic areas of the border with Mexico. In the same vote on May 17, the Senate also directed 500 miles of vehicle barriers to be built along the border. Washington Times: Senate denies funds for new border fenceexternal link

    DCCC AD PROVOKES FUROR: Rep. Nancy Pelosi of San Francisco and House Republican leaders exchanged verbal blasts Thursday over an Internet ad produced by Pelosi's Democratic House campaign committee that shows the flag-draped coffins of American soldiers killed in Iraq. Republicans, sensing an opportunity to rally their conservative base in the midterm election-year campaign, said they were outraged and called on Democrats to pull the ad, which was posted July 2 on the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee's Web site. Refusing to back down, Pelosi scoffed at the criticism, saying the Republicans are "in denial of the consequences of their actions in Iraq." San Francisco Chronicle: GOP Slams Democrats Over Coffin in Adexternal link

    GILLESPIE, GOP OFFICIALS COULD BE QUESTIONED IN PHONE-JAMMING SUIT: A judge yesterday allowed state Democratic attorneys to question a former Republican national chairman and other high-ranking GOP officials about an illegal election day 2002 phone-jamming operation. Attorneys for the national and state Republican parties did not object to the Democrats' request in Hillsborough County Superior Court prior to the ruling by Hillsborough County Superior Court Judge Philip Mangones. But targets of soon-to-be-issued Democratic subpoenas will have the legal option of trying to have those subpoenas quashed in court, attorneys said. The targets include former Republican National Chairman Ed Gillespie, former White House political affairs official Alicia Davis and two former Republican Party officials who are now consultants well-known in political circles. The Democrats also want to examine cell phone records of former White House political affairs director Ken Mehlman, the current RNC chairman. Manchester Union-Leader: GOP officials to face jamming questionsexternal link

    ROMNEY TAKES OVER AS OFFICIALS FIND MORE BIG DIG DEFECTS: Big Dig officials announced last night that the entire Interstate 90 tunnel network under South Boston is riddled with as many as 250 places where ceiling supports were pulling away from the tunnel roof - the flaw that apparently dropped a massive panel on a car, killing Milena Del Valle Monday. Shortly after last night's announcement, lawmakers passed emergency legislation proposed by Romney to let him take control of inspections from embattled Turnpike Chairman Matthew Amorello and embark on a "stem to stern" audit of tunnel safety. Boston Herald: Problems ignored in rush to wrap it up: Gov takes controlexternal link

    TURNPIKE CHIEF REFUSES TO STEP ASIDE: The Legislature overwhelmingly passed a bill last night to strip Turnpike Authority chairman Matthew J. Amorello of much of his oversight over the Big Dig and give Governor Mitt Romney the power to decide when to reopen a tunnel where a 38-year-old woman was killed in a ceiling collapse this week. The nearly unanimous votes in the House and Senate showed how Amorello, a divisive figure in his four years leading the agency, lost the support of his most powerful Beacon Hill allies yesterday. Legislative leaders discussed plans to ease Amorello out of his job, but he continued to reject the pressure to step down. Boston Globe: Turnpike chief resisting pressure to step downexternal link

    UPDATE: KT'S "EITHER A LIAR OR DELUSIONAL": Republican senate candidate Kathleen (KT) McFarland bitterly broke with her whole family in 1992 when she accused her father of incest - an explosive charge her brother calls "complete baloney." "I'm not telling people how to vote, but she's either a liar or delusional," said Tom Troia, 52, who still lives in Wisconsin, where they grew up. "I've described her as evil. That's a pretty apt description." At a campaign event in Brooklyn, a poised McFarland, 54, refused to discuss her brother's stunning accusations. New York Daily News: KT's evil & a liar, cries broexternal link

    61 PERCENT SAY YASSKY'S RACE SHOULDN'T DISQUALIFY HIM: Most voters don't think black politicians in a predominately black Brooklyn district should try to keep a white candidate out of the race, according to a poll released yesterday. The race to fill Rep. Major Owens' 11th District seat has been overshadowed by efforts by some black leaders to oppose the candidacy of Councilman David Yassky, who is white. But a Quinnipiac poll of voters across the city shows that 61 percent don't think Yassky should be discouraged from running just because he is white. New York Post: Poll: White Candidate Has Right to Runexternal link

    "JOE'S DEAD INTERN" AND THE HARRIS EXODUS: Katherine Harris' floundering U.S. Senate campaign lost its high-level staff again this week and is groping for a message -- which doesn't surprise Republican insiders who trace the seeds of her trouble to the story of "Joe's dead intern." This wasn't any old Joe. It was Joe Scarborough, host of the prime-time MSNBC show Scarborough Country and a former Pensacola Republican congressman who was courted last summer by national Republicans to run against Harris. But before he could announce he wouldn't, Harris called major donors and suggested Scarborough would have to answer questions about the strange death of a former staff member in 2001, according to two former high-level Harris staff members, a GOP donor and Scarborough. "That was the first clue that something wasn't right with Katherine Harris," Scarborough told The Miami Herald in a recent interview, noting that a medical examiner found his staff member's death was natural and not the result of foul play. Miami Herald: Story of 'Joe's dead intern' began Harris' slide, insiders sayexternal link

    MENENDEZ RAISED TWICE AS MUCH AS KEAN IN Q2: Democratic Sen. Robert Menendez continues to outpace Republican challenger Tom Kean Jr. in fundraising for the New Jersey seat, amassing $2.58 million from April through June, more than double what Kean raised. Menendez has $7.4 million cash on hand, said campaign spokesman Matt Miller. He raised slightly more than he did in the first quarter of the year. Kean, the son of former New Jersey Gov. Thomas Kean, raised $1.1 million for the latest three-month period, $500,000 less than he raised in the first quarter of this year. Kean has $2.25 million cash on hand. The bulk of Kean's second quarter cash came from a June fundraiser hosted by first lady Laura Bush. AP via Yahoo! News: Menendez outpaces Kean in N.J. fundraisingexternal link

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