Wednesday, July 05, 2006
Political Hot Topics
"PROVOCATIVE BEHAVIOR": North Korea test-fired another missile today, at least its seventh such launch in 48 hours, Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi told reporters in Tokyo. Koizumi, speaking this morning, also said he could not rule out further launches, said Japan's Kyodo News Agency... North Korean test-fired at least six missiles yesterday, including its long-range Taepodong-2, senior U.S. officials said, defying warnings from the United States and regional powers in Asia. The controversial long-range missile failed less than a minute after launch, falling into the Sea of Japan, along with the other, less-sophisticated missiles. Diplomatic and military officials played down any imminent threat yesterday, but Stephen J. Hadley, President Bush's national security adviser, called the display of firepower on the Fourth of July "provocative behavior." Washington Post: North Korea Test-Fires Seventh Missile

"NO DANGER" TO THE U.S.: The Bush White House condemned North Korea for its defiant missile tests and accused Pyongyang of trying to "intimidate other states" but said the missiles posed no danger to the United States... For now, talking is the order of the day. Japan asked the U.N. Security Council to hold an emergency session Wednesday. Tokyo was expected to present a U.N. resolution protesting the missile tests, which sent U.S. officials scurrying to telephones for urgent, long-distance diplomacy. AP via Yahoo! News: White House: Missiles pose no U.S. threat

BUSH TAKES "RARE STEP" OF SAYING NUMBER OF IRAQ WAR DEAD: In a rousing Independence Day speech to hundreds of soldiers and their families, President Bush warned on Tuesday that setting an artificial timetable for withdrawal of Iraq would be "a terrible mistake" and took the rare step of mentioning the precise number of war dead. "I'm going to make you this promise," Mr. Bush told a cheering throng under a blistering late-morning sun. "I'm not going to allow the sacrifice of 2,527 troops who have died in Iraq to be in vain by pulling out before the job is done." New York Times: Addressing Soldiers, Bush Denounces Early Pullout in Iraq

DO TAPES SIGNAL BIN LADEN'S "COMMAND AND CONTROL" OVER AL QAEDA? The flurry of messages from Osama Bin Laden and his deputy this year suggests the pair is regaining control over Al Qaeda operations for the first time since the U.S. toppled the Taliban, two top experts told the Daily News. "It means their command and control over Al Qaeda is probably stronger than we thought it was," said Michael Scheuer, who ran the CIA's Osama Bin Laden unit and is the author of "Imperial Hubris." Bin Laden has issued five audiotapes since he ended a 14-month silence in January. His deputy Ayman al-Zawahiri has released eight audio- or video-taped anti-Western speeches this year. New York Daily News: Bin Laden clout on rise?

"A NEW WILLINGNESS TO NEGOTIATE" ON IMMIGRATION: On the eve of nationwide hearings that could determine the fate of his immigration bill, President Bush is signaling a new willingness to negotiate with House Republicans in an effort to revise the stalled legislation before Election Day. Republicans both inside and outside the White House say Mr. Bush, who has long insisted on comprehensive reform, is now open to a so-called enforcement-first approach that would put new border security programs in place before creating a guest worker program or path to citizenship for people living in the United States illegally. New York Times: Bush Signaling Shift in Stance on Immigration

IMMIGRATION HEARINGS IN SAN DIEGO, PHILLY START TODAY: Congressional Republicans considering an overhaul of the nation's immigration laws are leaving Washington to examine labor needs and the vulnerabilities of the nation's borders. A subcommittee meeting Wednesday at a San Diego Border Patrol station will examine security lapses that could make the U.S. more exposed to terrorism. Meanwhile, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter, R-Pa., will host a hearing in Philadelphia about a need for foreign workers. The San Diego hearing - and another by the same panel Friday in Laredo, Texas - are likely be filled with references to Osama bin Laden and al-Qaida. AP via Yahoo! News: Republicans launch immigration hearings

INSIDE THE DEMOCRATIC CAMPAIGN MACHINE: [Rep. Rahm] Emanuel, 46, chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, and [Sen. Chuck] Schumer, 55, head of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, have deployed tactics reminiscent of the smoke-filled rooms of yore. They have hand-picked candidates, crafted campaign themes, set fundraising goals and micromanaged staff hiring decisions for candidates around the country. In the process, these two big-city pols - Emanuel from Chicago, Schumer from Brooklyn - are injecting a dose of discipline and drive among traditionally unruly Democrats, who often suffer from the image that they are too soft. "Both in terms of raising money and recruiting candidates, no one is more focused and disciplined," said Steve Elmendorf, former top aide to ex-House Minority Leader Richard A. Gephardt (D-Mo.). "They do this 24/7 at 100% velocity every day. This is the focus we need." Los Angeles Times: Meet the Powers Behind the Democrats' Strategy

COULD DEMS' IN-FIGHTING HURT THEM IN NOVEMBER? Four months before the midterm congressional elections, Democrats are mired in a ferocious battle for control of the House and Senate. Among themselves. A feud within the ranks of party leaders is creating concern and consternation about Democrats' ability to capitalize on the bountiful political advantages the GOP has dealt them. Democrats are beset by competing messages, quarreling messengers and conflicting visions for the future of the party, all of which could complicate and impede their fall election strategy. Chicago Tribune: Democrats fear rifts risk midterm victory

"NEW JERSEY IS CLOSED": An emergency legislative session and impassioned plea from Gov. Jon Corzine couldn't break the state's billion-dollar budget impasse yesterday, fueling a raging political war and sending taxpayers a message that might echo for days: New Jersey is closed. On the fourth day of the shutdown Corzine ordered for all nonessential state government services, he declared the situation had gone "from unfortunate to unacceptable" and urged legislators to adopt his spending plan and the sales tax increase it includes. "Make no mistake," the governor told a packed chamber he called to the Statehouse for an unprecedented holiday session, "people are being hurt, and more will be hurt in the days ahead." Newark Star-Ledger: Special budget talks fail to curtail state shutdown

CASINOS CLOSED: New Jersey's casinos ushered out the last of the gamblers Wednesday morning as a state government shutdown claimed its latest victims. It was the first state-ordered shutdown in the 28-year history of Atlantic City's legalized gambling trade. AP via Yahoo! News: Atlantic City casinos close their doors

ROMNEY'S RELIGION "GOING TO BE A FACTOR": Religion hasn't been an issue in American presidential politics since 1960. That may change in 2008 if Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, a Mormon, remains a leading candidate for the Republican nomination. More than a third of registered voters -- 35 percent -- say they wouldn't vote for a Mormon for president, the latest Bloomberg/Los Angeles Times poll finds. That's considerably more than say they wouldn't vote for a Catholic, Jew or evangelical Christian. Only a Muslim gets a higher negative response. Among all respondents, 37 percent say they wouldn't vote for a Mormon. More than two in five Democrats say they wouldn't do so, while about a third of both Republicans and independents say they wouldn't. Females are slightly more negative toward a Mormon candidate than males. "It's a sign that this is going to be a factor in Romney's campaign," said Scott Rasmussen, an independent pollster and president of Rasmussen Research in Ocean Grove, New Jersey. Bloomberg: Romney's Religion May Be Hurdle in Presidential Bid

LIEBERMAN SEES ANGER FIRST-HAND AT PARADE: Senator Joseph I. Lieberman was smiling past the hecklers yesterday in this town's massive Independence Day parade. "Shame on you!" one yelled. "War-monger!" screamed another. "You're a traitor, Joe!" came a third voice... A day after sending a jolt through the political establishment by saying he will run for a fourth term even if he loses the Democratic nomination, Lieberman confronted face-to-face much of the anger that has fueled the campaign of Lamont. The cheers for Lieberman still generally swamped the boos, but the senator saw up close what he's up against in the final month of the Democratic primary campaign. Lieberman pronounced himself unconcerned about the reaction, calling his critics a "distinct minority." He said he still thinks he'll win the Aug. 8 primary, and said members of all parties in Connecticut will ultimately support him because they respect his heartfelt belief that the war in Iraq remains necessary. Boston Globe: Lieberman faces his war critics

JOE "IN A LOT OF TROUBLE": Anti-war candidate Ned Lamont is gaining on Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman in a tightening Democratic primary that threatens to deny the former vice presidential candidate his party's nomination for a fourth term. Mr. Lieberman, whose unwavering support for President Bush's war policies in Iraq has turned many of his once-loyal Democratic supporters against him, has seen his nearly 20 percentage point lead over Mr. Lamont in early May slide to 15 points last month, according to a Quinnipiac University poll. "He's in a lot trouble. He certainly can still win, but he is definitely in a big fight," said Jennifer Duffy, Senate elections analyst at the Cook Political Report. Washington Times: War foe gaining ground on Lieberman

HILLARY WILL BACK LAMONT IF HE WINS PRIMARY: Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, a longtime supporter of Sen. Joseph Lieberman, said Tuesday she will not back the Connecticut Democrat's bid for re-election if he loses their party's primary. "I've known Joe Lieberman for more than 30 years. I have been pleased to support him in his campaign for re-election, and hope that he is our party's nominee," the former first lady said in a statement issued by aides. "But I want to be clear that I will support the nominee chosen by Connecticut Democrats in their primary," the New York Democrat added. "I believe in the Democratic Party, and I believe we must honor the decisions made by Democratic primary voters." AP via Yahoo! News: Clinton draws line on backing Lieberman
Posted By Stephen Bach, CNN Washington Bureau: 7/05/2006 09:07:00 AM ET | Permalink
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