Tuesday, May 16, 2006
The Morning Grind
Bush gains support, but not from his 'target audience'

An overwhelming majority of Americans who watched President Bush outline his immigration goals last night reacted positively to his proposals, a CNN poll of speech watchers surveyed immediately following the nationally televised address shows.

But it is unlikely the president got through to his main target audience: conservative House Republicans.

The poll indicated that not only did people have a positive reaction to Bush's proposals, but the president also gained some ground with critics outside the Beltway. Overall, 79 percent of speech watchers said they had a "very positive" or "somewhat positive" reaction to his plan, while only 18 percent had a "negative" view.

Before the speech, only 42 percent of speech watchers said they had a positive opinion of Bush's immigration policies, but this number jumped to 67 percent after he delivered the prime time address. As for specific proposals, 75 percent of speech watchers approve of Bush's plan to send National Guard troops to the Mexican border; 69 percent favor his guest worker program; and 74 percent approve of the president's proposal to allow illegal immigrants to remain the U.S. and earn citizenship.

The poll, conducted for CNN by Opinion Research Corporation, surveyed 461 adult Americans who watched Bush's speech. Full poll results here.

While Bush was able to gain support from Americans, CNN's Bill Schneider said it is "doubtful" he changed the minds of conservatives on Capitol Hill. The main point of contention between Bush and conservatives is the president's drive to enact a guest worker program and his goal of establishing a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants already living in the country. Bush said it was unrealistic to think that the estimated 11 million to 12 million illegal aliens currently in the U.S. could be captured and deported. He described his proposal of earned citizenship as "rational middle ground."

"Illegal immigrants who have roots in our country and want to stay should have to pay a meaningful penalty for breaking the law, to pay their taxes, to learn English and to work in a job for a number of years," Bush said. "People who meet these conditions should be able to apply for citizenship, but approval would not be automatic, and they would have to wait in line behind those who played by the rules and followed the law."

Bush said a distinction would be made between an illegal immigrant with a family who has lived in the country for several years and someone who recently crossed the border illegally. Such assurances, though, did little to change the minds of conservative Republicans such as Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (California).

"If they are here illegally and you make them here legally, that is an amnesty," Rohrabacher said in an interview last night on CNN's 'Larry King Live.'

Jim Gilchrist, a leading voice for strict immigration laws, said on the same program that he too believes Bush is advocating amnesty. "It was everything I expected it to be, just another head fake," Gilchrist, founder of the Minuteman Project, said of the speech.

Bush's proposal to send 6,000 Guardsmen to the U.S.-Mexico border to provide logistical support to border control agents and build infrastructure to help fortify the border received mixed reviews from Republican and Democratic elected officials.

"The decision to send troops is the shot in the arm we need to strengthen our borders and protect our families," said House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Illinois). "We must do everything we can to protect Americans from terrorism, and that means using the tools we have available: troops; Border Patrol agents; cameras; and in some cases, physical barriers. These troops will help to protect our borders from terrorists, criminal gangs, drug runners and others who are crossing to harm Americans."

But California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) expressed uncertainty about the plan to deploy the Guard to the border.

"It remains unclear what impact only 6,000 National Guard troops will have on securing the border," he said. "I am concerned asking National Guard troops to guard our nation's border is a Band-Aid solution and not the permanent solution we need."

New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson (D) echoed Schwarzenegger's skepticism during an interview on 'Larry King Live.'

"My big question as the New Mexico governor is, of the 6,000, how many are coming to New Mexico? And they couldn't give me an answer on that," he said. "It seems this policy is being made on the fly, and that's what's discouraging."

Meanwhile, Congressional Democratic leaders, who support Bush's guest citizenship plan, said the pressure is now on the president to convince Republicans to support it.

"The president has the power to call up the National Guard, but now he must summon the power to lead his own Republican forces in Congress to support a bipartisan, comprehensive immigration reform," said Senate Minority Whip Richard Durbin (D-Illinois).

The Senate resumes debate on the issue this morning. Also, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada) and Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa will "discuss the need for bipartisan, comprehensive immigration reform" at 3 p.m. ET in Reid's Capitol office. At the same time, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus holds a news conference in the House Radio & TV Gallery to discuss the immigration issue.

We are likely to learn more about the House Republican leadership's reaction to Bush's speech at House Majority Leader John Boehner's (R-Ohio) pen-and-pad session with reporters at 11:30 p.m. ET in his Capitol office. Congressional Republicans will try to shift the topic of discussion this afternoon to the recently approved tax cut bill. Hastert and Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tennessee) will be joined by the owner of a Newport News, Virginia, electrical company at a 4 p.m. ET enrollment ceremony on the East Front steps on the House side of the Capitol. The owner of this small business will then follow the bill in his pick up truck as it is delivered to the White House for Bush's signature.

A bipartisan group of Senators will hold an 11 a.m. ET news conference on stem cell research in room 138 of the Dirksen Senate Office Building. At 10 a.m. ET, Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-District of Columbia) and fellow members of the Congressional Black Caucus stage a protest and expect to be arrested outside the Sudanese Embassy.

This morning, Bush and First Lady Laura Bush welcomed Australian Prime Minster John Howard and his wife at the White House. Bush has a 10 a.m. ET meeting with Howard in the Oval Office and at 11:45 a.m. ET the two world leaders hold a joint press conference. At 1:25 p.m. ET, Bush meets with the 2005 WNBA Champions and at 2:40 p.m. ET he holds a meeting of his Cabinet. At 7 p.m. Bush hosts a dinner for Howard and his wife.

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld is likely to make it back to the White House in time for the afternoon Cabinet meeting after delivering the 11:30 a.m. ET commencement address to the Virginia Military Institute. Today, also marks the first on-camera briefing by new White House press secretary Tony Snow. He takes the podium at 12:30 p.m. ET.

And Americans United, a progressive advocacy group, releases its second "national security" themed television ad today aimed at discrediting Bush and bolstering Democrats on this issue before the midterm elections. The 30 second commercial is scheduled to run nationally on CNN and Fox as well as the Fox affiliate in Crawford/Waco viewing area with a total buy between $100,000 and $200,000. Titled 'Father Knows Best' it contrasts Bush and his father's comments on the leaking of CIA operative Valerie Plame's identity to revelations the current president knew about it. Check out the ad here.

Grind Extra - The Mother of All Contests
From Robert Yoon, CNN Political Unit

While most of America was paying tribute to motherhood this weekend, faithful Grind readers were cloistered away with their Almanacs of American Politics as well as the collective works of Dr. Spock all to pursue a dream: to win the first-ever Morning Grind Mothers' Day Quiz.

That honor, as well as the highly coveted 2004 commemorative CNN Reporter's Notebook, goes to one Kenneth Schultz of Cambridge, Massachusetts. We should note that Schultz is a former CNN intern, but was unpaid and currently has no official affiliation with The Most Trusted Name in News. Former Intern Kenny answered four out of five questions correctly, as did CNN's Chuck Hurley. Chuck is ineligible for the prize, but is probably resourceful enough to find his own commemorative notebook.

For the less resourceful among you, here are the answers:

Q: Who was the first member of Congress to give birth while in office?
A: Rep. Yvonne Brathwaite Burke (D-California). Burke, who served from 1973 to 1979, gave birth to a daughter, Autumn, in November 1973.

Q: Name the three senators or representatives who gave birth during the 104th Congress.
A: Then-Reps. Blanche Lambert Lincoln (D-Arkansas), Susan Molinari (R-New York), and Enid Greene Waldholtz (R-Utah).

Q: Who was the only governor to have given birth while in office?
A: Jane Swift (R-Massachusetts). Technically, Swift was the ACTING governor when she gave birth in 2001, since she assumed office after Paul Cellucci became ambassador to Canada. So the title of first ELECTED governor to give birth in office remains wide open!

Q: Name two elected officials who have given birth to twins while in office.
A: We at the Grind had two women in mind with this question: the aforementioned Blanche Lincoln and Jane Swift. But alert Grind readers David Byowitz of Princeton, New Jersey, and Miriam Kleiman of McLean, Virginia, both point out that Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Florida) gave birth to twins in 1999 when she was serving in the Florida state legislature. Kleiman, a public affairs specialist at the National Archives, also points out that former British Parliament member Tess Kingham and fictional "West Wing" congresswoman Andrea Wyatt both had twins while in office. Kingham, a Labour Party MP from 1997 to 2001, had twins in January 2000 while representing the good folks of Gloucestershire, England. Wyatt, ex-wife of the equally fictional Toby Ziegler, gave birth to "Molly" and "Huck" in Season 4 of the recently axed presidential drama.

Q: Name a sitting female senator who adopted two children in 2001.
A: Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas). The most popular answer to this question was Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-Louisiana), who has indeed adopted two children, but not in 2001. She adopted a daughter in July 1997, shortly after joining the Senate, and a son while she was Louisiana state treasurer. Don't feel bad if you missed this one; not a single person answered this correctly.
Posted By Mark Preston, CNN Political Unit: 5/16/2006 11:16:00 AM ET | Permalink
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