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From the economy to abortion, politicians speak on hot button issues

By Mark Preston
CNN Political Editor

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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- With 100 days until the midterm elections, Republicans and Democrats are using various backdrops today to speak out on major policy issues, and it appears as though some of them are delivering these addresses with one eye looking beyond November.

President Bush will talk about the economy, while Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada) will discuss abortion. Sen. John Kerry (D-Massachusetts) unveils his healthcare plan, while Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-New York) talks about the concerns of rural America. And former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Georgia) speaks to the next generation of GOP leaders who are attending the Young America's Foundation "National Conservative Student Conference."

Bush, who is working to save his political legacy in part by trying to prevent Democratic gains in Congress, delivers a speech on the economy in Florida after touring the National Hurricane Center. But his message of economic growth is likely to be overshadowed by the latest events in the Mideast. Traveling with the President, CNN's Ed Henry reports that Bush will "address the violence in the Mideast at the top of his remarks" and will "discuss the way forward" in that region.

The President has been seeking to bring attention to the economy but his efforts to do so have largely fallen on deaf ears due to the Iraq war. While in Florida, Bush will also attend a Republican National Committee fundraiser -- dollars that will be used to help House and Senate Republican candidates in November. As for his drop-in at the National Hurricane Center, it appears as though the President is seeking to show that his administration is prepared if another devastating hurricane such as Katrina sweeps ashore.

Meanwhile, in a speech before the Center for American Progress, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada) takes aim at the GOP leadership's "American Values Agenda" a series of policy initiatives favored by the conservative GOP base. Reid, an anti-abortion rights lawmaker, also tackles this issue and will argue that the focus needs to be on preventing unwanted pregnancies.

"Passions run high on both sides, and it's unrealistic to think either will suddenly abandon its deeply held beliefs," Reid will say, according to excerpts of his speech provided to the Grind. "But there is common ground, if we're willing to seize the opportunity instead of stoking fears.

"As a pro-life Senator in the Democratic Party, I know this common ground exists, and it's called prevention. If we're serious about breaking the stalemate in the abortion debate, both sides must stop posturing and start seeking the positive results we share."

Reid also will seek to show that the GOP's priorities are misplaced because it is focusing its efforts on protecting the American Flag and trying to pass a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage instead of working to boost the federal minimum wage.

"If we were serious about protecting families, we'd forget about amending the constitution in the name of a crisis that doesn't exist, and take actual, real life steps that will keep our families strong," Reid will say. "The first thing we'd do is stop playing politics and pass a real minimum wage increase."

While Clinton, a possible presidential candidate, is speaking about rural issues in New York, Sen. John Kerry (D-Massachusetts), a potential rival in 2008, will talk about his healthcare proposal at historic Faneuil Hall in Boston. Kerry will call for every American to receive the same type of coverage as offered to Members of Congress; have all children covered by next year with every American covered by 2012. Kerry's office said his plan would be paid for by repealing Bush's tax cuts for people earning more than $200,000.

"Americans have a choice here, in 2006, if the Congress won't fix health care, then Americans can fix the Congress," Kerry will say according to excerpts of his speech provided to the Grind. "Some have suggested that I offer a new health care plan so it can sound new. What I put forward in 2004 works. It was a good plan then, and it's a good plan now. I'm not willing to give up that fight. What we need is a new Congress this year and a new president in 2008 to make sure we finish the job."

All alone

The Senate's lights remain on this week, as the House has already gaveled out of session for the summer recess. Amy Call, spokeswoman for Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tennessee), tells the Grind he "plans to take up off shore drilling, (Department of Defense Appropriations), pensions as well as the tax extensions, death tax and minimum wage package" before the Senate goes into recess at the end of the week.

Jim Manley, spokesman for Minority Leader Reid, tells the Grind that Democrats will work to defeat the estate (or death) tax bill.

"Senator Reid is confident that the Senate will defeat this fiscally irresponsible estate tax, as we have in the past," he said.

The race for endorsements in Connecticut

Democrat Ned Lamont picked up The New York Times endorsement over Sen. Joe Lieberman (D) to be the Connecticut Democratic Senate candidate in November. But the incumbent received the backing of the state's two largest newspapers. The Hartford Courant and the Connecticut Post threw their support behind Lieberman, who also got the backing of The Washington Post over the weekend. The primary is August 8.

The New York Timesexternal link

The Hartford Courantexternal link

The Connecticut Postexternal link

The Washington Postexternal link

DAYAHEAD/Events making news today

  • President Bush was scheduled to attend an 8 a.m. ET breakfast with Florida business leaders in Miami. At 9:10 a.m. ET, Bush was scheduled to tour the National Hurricane Center in Miami. The President then delivers a 10:10 a.m. ET economic speech at the U.S. Coast Guard Integrated Support Command in Miami. He tours the Port of Miami at 11:05 a.m. ET. At 1:45 p.m. ET, Bush then attends a Republican National Committee luncheon fundraiser at a private home in Coral Gables. He arrives back at the White House late this afternoon.
  • The Senate gavels into session at 2 p.m. ET. The chamber moves to period of morning business and then turns its focus on the Gulf of Mexico Energy Security bill. The Senate Radio-Television Correspondents' Gallery Daybook: http://www.senate.gov/galleries/radiotv/list.htm
  • The House is in recess until 2 p.m. ET on September 6, 2006. The House Radio-Television Correspondents' Gallery Daybook: http://radiotv.house.gov/news-events.aspx
  • Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-New York) delivers what is being billed as a "major policy address on rural issues" at noon in Lockport, New York.
  • Sen. John Kerry (D-Massachusetts) unveils his health care plan at noon during an address in Boston's Faneuil Hall.
  • Paul Wolfowitz, president of The World Bank Group, delivers a noon address before the Heritage Foundation on "Foreign Aid, Challenges and Opportunities."
  • Israeli Vice Prime Minister Shimon Peres participates in a web cast sponsored by the Council on Foreign Relations at noon.
  • Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada) delivers a speech on "American Values" at 12:30 p.m. ET at the Center for American Progress Action Fund in Washington, DC.
  • Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Georgia) speaks to the Young America's Foundation "National Conservative Student Conference" at 1 p.m. ET being held in the George Washington University Marvin Center.
  • POLITICAL HOT TOPICS

    Compiled by CNN's Xuan Thai

    Rice Predicts Cease-Fire May Occur This Week: Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said she has achieved general agreement on terms to end hostilities between Israel and Hezbollah, and predicted that a ceasefire could take hold this week. Israel's defense minister, meanwhile, told the Israeli parliament the army would "expand and strengthen" its ground campaign against Hezbollah even as it implements a 48-hour pause in aerial bombardments in southern Lebanon. Washington Post: Rice Predicts Cease-Fire May Occur This Weekexternal link

    Support for U.S.-Led Mission May Continue: Japan is considering a one-year extension of its naval mission to support U.S.-led troops in Afghanistan, a news report said today. Japan's navy has provided fuel for coalition warships in the Indian Ocean since November 2001 under a special law set to expire Nov. 1. The measure has already been extended twice. LA Times: Support for U.S.-Led Mission May Continueexternal link

    Congo Holds First Multiparty Election in 46 Years: Jules Mabuisi had waited a long time for this. At the age of 80, he has been ruled by Belgians, dictators and a cadre of warlords who carved up his country and then watched it rot. On Sunday, for the first time in decades, he was allowed to cast a meaningful vote. "Where do I mark?" Mr. Mabuisi asked, staring at a ballot with hundreds of names and little faces on it. He was among the millions of Congolese who streamed to polling places on Sunday  on foot, by bike, even by log canoe  for the first multiparty vote since shortly after independence in an election meant to bring peace to Congo and elsewhere in Central Africa, one of the poorest, most violent regions on earth. Nearly four million people have died as a result of fighting and chaos in Congo since 1998, according to the International Rescue Committee. NY Times: Congo Holds First Multiparty Election in 46 Yearsexternal link

    Crisis Could Undercut Bush's Long-Term Goals: The Israeli bombs that slammed into the Lebanese village of Qana yesterday did more than kill three dozen children and a score of adults. They struck at the core of U.S. foreign policy in the region and illustrated in heart-breaking images the enormous risks for Washington in the current Middle East crisis. With each new scene of carnage in southern Lebanon, outrage in the Arab world and Europe has intensified against Israel and its prime sponsor, raising the prospect of a backlash resulting in a new Middle East quagmire for the United States, according to regional specialists, diplomats and former U.S. officials. Washington Post: Crisis Could Undercut Bush's Long-Term Goalsexternal link

    Bush's Focus in Florida Is on Domestic Agenda: With crucial midterm congressional elections just three months away, President Bush tried Sunday to return to his domestic agenda even while the latest eruption in the Middle East continued to dominate his administration's attention. Bush flew here after going for a Sunday bicycle ride and hosting a children's T-ball game on the South Lawn of the White House to have dinner with Miami community leaders. Washington Post: Bush's Focus in Florida Is on Domestic Agendaexternal link

    Democrats see minimum wage, stem cells as hot issues: Democrats will spend August stumping on issues they say matter most to voters -- such as raising the minimum wage and funding stem-cell research -- as they scramble to try to regain control of the House or the Senate. Some optimistic members of the minority party say a focus on middle-class matters could lead to Democrats' recapturing both chambers. By contrast, Republicans next month plan to highlight a need to strengthen the porous borders and to keep the conversation either on local issues or security matters, such as terrorism. Democrats say domestic topics give them the edge as they try to appeal to voters who are disenchanted with the way the majority is running the country. Washington Times: Democrats see minimum wage, stem cells as hot issuesexternal link

    Voting Act Overshadows Race Debate: There were celebrations last week when President Bush renewed key provisions of the Voting Rights Act of 1964, which eliminated segregation at the ballot box. The act helped form political districts where black voters are in the majority, which sent the first wave of African-American representatives to Congress since Reconstruction -- and creating, over time, loyal Democratic voters. But the renewal overshadowed a quiet but growing debate among Democrats: whether mostly black voting districts in cities like Petersburg -- which helped elect the state's first African-American House member in more than 100 years -- should be diluted to spread around liberal voters and help elect more Democrats get to Congress. Boston Globe: Voting act overshadows race debateexternal link

    In Court Papers, a Political Note on '04 Protests: When city officials denied demonstrators access to the Great Lawn in Central Park during the 2004 Republican National Convention, political advocates and ordinary New Yorkers accused Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg of squelching demonstrations that could embarrass fellow Republicans during their gathering. The Bloomberg administration denied being guided by politics in banning the protests. Instead, officials said they were motivated by a concern for the condition of the expensively renovated Great Lawn or by law enforcement's ability to secure the crowd. But documents that have surfaced in a federal lawsuit over the use of the Great Lawn paint a different picture, of both the rationale for the administration's policy and the degree of Mr. Bloomberg's role in enforcing it. NY Times: In Court Papers, a Political Note on '04 Protestsexternal link

    UK, Calif. to Strike Global Warming Deal: Britain and California are preparing to sidestep the Bush administration and fight global warming together by creating a joint market for greenhouse gases. British Prime Minister Tony Blair and California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger plan to lay the groundwork for a new trans-Atlantic market in carbon dioxide emissions, The Associated Press has learned. Such a move could help California cut carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases scientists blame for warming the planet. President Bush has rejected the idea of ordering such cuts. LA Times: UK, Calif. to Strike Global Warming Dealexternal link

    Romney apologizes for use of expression: Governor Mitt Romney yesterday apologized for using the expression "tar baby" -- a phrase some consider a racial epithet -- among comments he made at a political gathering in Iowa over the weekend. "The governor was describing a sticky situation," said Eric Fehrnstrom, the governor's spokesman. "He was unaware that some people find the term objectionable, and he's sorry if anyone was offended." In his first major political trip out of the state since a ceiling collapse in a Big Dig tunnel killed a Boston woman on July 10, Romney told 200 people at a Republican lunch Saturday about the political risks of his efforts to oversee the project. Boston Globe: Romney apologizes for use of expressionexternal link

    Lakota president ousted, abortion politics: Abortion politics in South Dakota has spilled over into a power struggle within the Oglala Sioux Tribe of the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. Cecelia Fire Thunder, the first female president of the Oglala tribe, was removed from office in June -- five months before the end of her two-year term. Thunder ran afoul of other tribal leaders when she said the reservation would make abortions available -- circumventing a new state law banning most abortions. UPI reported in the WashingtonTimesexternal link

    Roberts and Alito Misled Us By Sen. Ted Kennedy: Now that the votes are in from their first term, we can see plainly the agenda that Roberts and Alito sought to conceal from the committee. Our new justices consistently voted to erode civil liberties, decrease the rights of minorities and limit environmental protections. At the same time, they voted to expand the power of the president, reduce restrictions on abusive police tactics and approve federal intrusion into issues traditionally governed by state law. Washington Post: Roberts and Alito Misled Usexternal link

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