Friday, June 09, 2006
The Michael Brown Interview
In an interview on the Situation Room, Former FEMA director Michael Brown discussed this e-mail he provided CNN that alleges candid comments from President Bush in a Cabinet meeting in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. Brown, through his attorney, provided this e-mail on the condition that CNN redact the name, not revealing the identity of the author.

The e-mail was written to Brown, he says, by a high-level White House official, close to the President, on September 7, 2006, five days before Brown resigned. CNN cannot independently verify the authenticity of the e-mail, but the White House "eop.gov" designation is at the end of the sender's e-mail address, signifying it originated from the "Executive Office of the President."

In response to the e-mail, a White House spokesperson replied in an e-mail, "This is an old rumor that surfaced months ago and we're not commenting on it. This story has already been reported and I have heard nothing at all that would substantiate it." Some of the contents of the e-mail were first claimed in a column written by Brown's lawyer, Andy Lester, in the conservative publication, "Human Events," and subsequently picked up by news media, but until now, the existence of a written record has been unreported.
Posted By The Situation Online Producers: 6/09/2006 05:25:00 PM ET | Permalink
The Situation Online


President Lyndon Johnson hands the Rev. Martin Luther King a pen after signing the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

MLK papers on auction block
How much would you pay for a draft of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s famous "I Have a Dream" speech? The auction house Sotheby's is putting thousands of Dr. King's writings - his entire personal archive - up for auction this month.

Governor Grandma?
Can Carole Keeton "Grandma" Strayhorn get her nickname on the ballot for Texas Governor? Two of her competitors, Kinky Friedman (Richard Samet Friedman) and current Texas Governor Rick Perry (James Richard Perry) do not go by their given names. You might be surprised to learn the rules on nicknames from the Texas Secretary of State.

Left Las Vegas
The left wing of the Internet had a significant impact on the 2004 campaigns, but are bloggers still relevant? Several big name Democrats, including potential 2008 presidential candidates Mark Warner, Tom Vilsack, and Bill Richardson think so, and they're in Las Vegas right now for the YearlyKos Convention to get a leg up on the next election season.
Posted By The Situation Online Producers: 6/09/2006 04:50:00 PM ET | Permalink
Father worries about son in brig
Jodka, 20, detained for suspected role in Iraqi civilian's death

With a copy of his son's dog tags around his neck, John Jodka sat in his living room talking about how proud he is of his son, who is facing possible charges in connection with the death of a 52-year old civilian in the Iraqi town of Hamandiya.

"Knowing my son as the ultimate marine, I choose to defend him" says Jodka. His son, also named John Jodka, is a 20-year old private first class with the Marine Corps, who was on his first tour in Iraq when he and 7 other servicemen were brought back to the brig at Camp Pendleton.

He says his son and the seven others are being held in solitary confinement, which the elder Jodka thinks is inappropriate. In an interview that will air tonight on "The Situation Room," Jodka tells me his son is "being treated like a convicted murderer. He's not even being treated like a potential murderer -- they are often out on bail, not in solitary confinement."

In a statement, the Marine Corps says the men are subject to "the maximum level of restraint" because of the evidence uncovered in the initial investigation. That includes being in handcuffs attached to a leather belt and leg cuffs while being escorted out of their cell.

Jodka says he's also upset with what he calls a lack of support from the Marine Corps.

"I feel that the leadership of the battalion, the division and the Marine Corps has turned their backs on these boys".

Jodka talked about how excited his son was to join the Marines, serving in Iraq with the 3rd Battalion 5th Marine regiment.

But a month after celebrating his 20th birthday in Iraq, the younger Jodka placed a collect call to his father from the brig at Camp Pendleton, where he faced possible charges that may include murder. "I'm terribly worried. I think about this constantly," the elder Jodka says.

The Marine Corps says it ensures all service members in pre-trial confinement are afforded all their rights.
Posted By Ted Rowlands, CNN: 6/09/2006 04:06:00 PM ET | Permalink
The Morning Grind


Tom Daschle, shown here in a file photo, lost his Senate re-election bid in 2004.

Daschle takes a 2008 test spin

When former Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle (D) wanted to reconnect with his constituents, he would get behind the wheel of his car and drive South Dakota's back roads. Now, 18 months removed from office, Daschle is getting back into the driver's seat. Except this time he is driving the streets of Manchester, New Hampshire, and Davenport, Iowa.

Daschle is the latest Democrat to start testing the waters for a potential presidential run in 2008.

"I think our country is on the wrong track," Daschle said in an interview with the Grind earlier this week. "It is not living up to the greatness and potential. I don't know if there has been a time when it has been more important to step up ... and to help with the issues that are confronting us."

Daschle is driving around Davenport this morning after conducting a similar "unscheduled driving tour" yesterday in Manchester. No press, no staff, just the former Democratic leader pulling over on the side of the road and talking directly to the people.

It was this time two years ago when Daschle was the number one target of Senate Republicans. He was vilified for stalling and blocking President Bush's legislative agenda and judicial nominations. The phrase "Daschle Democrats" was coined and the word obstructionist became interchangeable with the South Dakota Democrat's name. Republican leaders convinced former Rep. John Thune (R-South Dakota), fresh off of losing to Sen. Tim Johnson (D-South Dakota) in 2002, to challenge Daschle. In a state that President Bush defeated Sen. John Kerry (D-Massachusetts) by 22 percentage points in 2004, Daschle lost to Thune by about 4,500 votes.

After 26 years of serving first in the House and then the Senate, Daschle's Congressional career came to a crashing end. He joined the private sector and a Democratic think tank, but he acknowledged he still has the itch for politics. Daschle said the combination of his service in Congress, including 10 years as a Democratic leader, and the fact that he has a 7-1 record in a "red state" makes him "uniquely qualified" as a candidate.

"I think I could bring some strengths to this race that would be formidable," Daschle said.

Right now, though, he is at a financial disadvantage to other Democrats such as Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (New York), Sen. Evan Bayh (Indiana) and Sen. John Kerry (Massachusetts), who have all amassed substantial early war chests. But Daschle said, should he decide to seek the Democratic nomination, he is confident he will have the resources to run an effective campaign.

"I don't want to minimize the challenge of raising funds, and I am confident we would be able to do that," he said. "The network of friends and supporters I have around the country would be more than sufficient to allow me to run a competitive race."

Donna Brazile, a Democratic strategist and CNN commentator, said she is not surprised that Daschle is exploring a bid, adding that even though he is out of office people should take his candidacy seriously.

"He has great credentials, solid Democratic credentials," Brazile said.

"He can raise money, attract early media attention and recruit much needed staff and activists to fuel his candidacy. He will be one of the leading contenders if he decides to run."

In addition to visiting the early proving grounds, Daschle has remained active on the campaign trail for Democratic candidates. He has donated $340,000 directly to candidates and the party, and has helped raise another $1.2 million for Senate, House and gubernatorial candidates, Daschle political adviser Steve Hildebrand said. Daschle needs to maintain and continue building relationships as the race for the Democratic nomination will be crowded and competitive. Even one of Daschle's long-time friends told the Grind that he is leaning towards supporting former Virginia Gov. Mark Warner (D), who is considering running in 2008.

"A guy like Daschle being on the ticket would be terrific, but I don't think this country is looking at a former or sitting senator for their next leader," said the friend, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

Daschle said he will use the coming months to determine if a bid is viable, but won't make a decision until after the midterm elections. He once thought about running for the White House before making an 11th hour decision to run for re-election to the Senate. He lost that race and now is thinking about a White House bid again.

"I have always made it a practice never to look back and second guess," Daschle said. "I have got to live with the decisions I have made."

To this day, Republicans such as Sen. George Allen (R-Virginia) boast about their success in defeating Daschle in 2004. Allen, who is seriously considering his own run for the White House, was the chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee in 2004.

But Daschle said he has no regrets about how he handled his duties as the Democratic leader.

"I am proud of the fact that we stood up to an administration that is just flat wrong on every issue," he said.

***


Democratic bloggers plot strategy in Las Vegas

Once maligned as anti-social, idealistic liberals, the Democratic establishment is embracing the "net roots," a community of online activists who use the Internet to instantaneously voice their opinions.

Tonight, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada) addresses the first annual YearlyKos Convention, a gathering of 1,000 bloggers meeting in Las Vegas to talk politics and strategy and politics and politics. Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean speaks tomorrow morning. And over the course of the four-day event four possible presidential candidates -- retired Gen. Wesley Clark, New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack and former Virginia Gov. Mark Warner --will address the gathering.

"Despite this massive effort to discredit us as far left, extremist whackos, it clearly has failed," Markos Moulitsas Zuniga, whose blog Daily Kos inspired the convention, said in an interview with the Grind. "And by their presence, they are giving their vote of confidence for a new generation of political activists."

Moulitsas described the convention that was organized by readers and contributors to Daily Kos as "a perfect example of the people-powered politics that I have been writing about for several years."

The power and reach of bloggers was realized in the 2004 presidential election when Dean utilized the Internet to raise money and whip up support for his presidential campaign. Since then veteran Democrats from Sen. Robert Byrd (West Virginia) to Sen. John Kerry (Massachusetts) have sought to build a relationship with the online community.

Chuck Todd, editor-in-chief of the Hotline, said he believes Democrats view the Internet much in the same way Republicans see talk radio.

"It is a way to talk to the base," Todd said. "The base of the Democratic Party is very connected and while it hasn't proven that it is a way to win elections, they have proven it is a way to organize and raise money."

Todd said it also makes sense for Clark, Vilsack and Warner to attend the conference because these three potential candidates are viewed as centrists and need to establish a relationship with these activists.

"In some ways, Kos can do more for a conservative or even a centrist Democrat than he can for a liberal," Todd said.

Ellen Qualls, Warner's spokeswoman, pointed out that the former governor is a successful technology venture capitalist and noted that the online activists' "influence is only expanding.

"I think he has a connection with these activists, because they appreciate that he understands the power of technology, which is how they are organizing," she said.

While political analyst Stuart Rothenberg noted that the bloggers have indeed become "players in Democratic and left wing politics," he said it has come with a price.

"Like talk radio conservatives, the liberal bloggers have polarized our politics, made our political discussions less civil and generally made politics meaner and less smart," said Rothenberg, publisher of the non-partisan Rothenberg Political Report and a columnist for Roll Call.
Posted By Mark Preston, CNN Political Unit: 6/09/2006 10:50:00 AM ET | Permalink
DAYAHEAD: Events making news today and through the weekend ...
  • President Bush is at Camp David today, and he met with the Prime Minister of Denmark at 9:10 a.m. ET. Bush and Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen are scheduled to hold a 10:50 a.m. ET press availability.

  • The Senate gaveled into session at 9:30 a.m. ET and began consideration of the Department of Defense authorization bill. The next vote will be held on Tuesday. The House convened at 9 a.m. ET.

  • YearlyKos events: Day two of the first annual liberal blogging convention featuring Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada) and potential Democratic presidential candidates Gen. Wesley Clark, New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack and former Virginia Gov. Mark Warner. The conference is being held in Las Vegas and runs through Sunday morning.

  • Former Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle (D-South Dakota) explores a presidential bid by visiting Iowa today. He begins with an "unscheduled driving tour" of Davenport at 10:30 a.m. ET and then attends a 1 p.m. ET lunch with Democrats at Chef's Hat Restaurant. Daschle then attends a 5 p.m. ET reception with Iowa Democrats at the Raccoon River Brewery in Des Moines.

  • Sen. Evan Bayh (D-Indiana), another potential presidential candidate, attends a noon lunch with New Hampshire Democrats at the Puritan Backroom Restaurant in Manchester. At 6:15 p.m. ET, Bayh addresses the 11th Annual Carroll County Democrats Grover Cleveland Dinner at the Grand Summit Hotel in Bartlett. Tomorrow, Bayh spends another full day in New Hampshire. He attends a 10:30 a.m. ET reception for state Sen. Iris Estabrook and Strafford County Democrats in Rollinsford; at 12:30 p.m. ET he attends an event honoring Paul Hodes in Concord; at 4:30 p.m. ET he attends a campaign rally in Keene for Molly Kelly, who is running for a state Senate seat, followed by a 6:30 p.m. ET reception.

  • Sen. Sam Brownback (R-Kansas), who is considering a presidential run, is the headliner at the New York State Conservative Party Annual Dinner in New York.

  • Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean speaks to the Virgin Islands Democratic Party Unity Luncheon in St. Thomas.

  • Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wisconsin), a potential presidential candidate, speaks at the Wisconsin Democratic State Convention at 10 p.m. ET. On Saturday, he speaks at 10 a.m. ET to the Minnesota Democratic Farmer-Labor State Convention

  • Lynne Cheney, Vice President Cheney's wife, speaks at 10:30 a.m. ET Saturday at family day on the USS George Washington at Naval Station Norfolk, in Norfolk, Virginia.

  • Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani (R), who is eyeing a presidential bid, attends a Saturday fundraiser for GOP House challenger David McSweeney in Illinois.

  • Sen. John McCain (R-Arizona), a potential presidential candidate, delivers the Ohio State University Commencement address on Sunday and then attends a fundraiser for Sen. Mike DeWine (R-Ohio).

  • Former Sen. John Edwards (D-North Carolina), who is considering another presidential run, campaigns for Democratic House candidate Bruce Braley in Bettendorf, Iowa.
  • Posted By Mark Preston, CNN Political Unit: 6/09/2006 10:48:00 AM ET | Permalink
    Political Hot Topics
    LIFE AFTER AL-ZARQAWI: Analysts and military spokesmen said Thursday that the death of insurgent leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, killed Wednesday when two 500-pound bombs obliterated his hideout north of Baghdad, will not extinguish the sectarian conflict that he helped foment and that is now claiming many more lives in Iraq than his campaign of beheadings and bombings. Washington Post: After Zarqawi, No Clear Path in Weary Iraq

    WHITE HOUSE CAREFUL IN HANDLING AL-ZARQAWI NEWS: In celebrating the killing of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi as a victory for Iraqis and Americans, White House officials were careful on Thursday to acknowledge that his death would not mean the end of the insurgency he had led. The muted approach marked a departure from the triumphalism with which the White House has greeted some other major events in the war in Iraq. From the moment in the Oval Office on Wednesday afternoon when President Bush heard the first, tentative reports about Mr. Zarqawi's death, White House aides said he cautioned against jubilation. New York Times: Bush Responds to the Killing of a Terrorist With Caution

    3 IRAQI CABINET OFFICIALS CONFIRMED BY PARLIAMENT: Iraq's parliament approved three key security officials yesterday, ending an impasse that had threatened Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's plan for Iraqis to gradually take over security from U.S. and other foreign troops. Efforts to name the defense, interior and national security ministers had been snarled by squabbling among the Shiite, Sunni Arab and Kurdish parties in the unity government that took office May 20. The frictions were fed by the surge in sectarian conflict in recent months. AP via Baltimore Sun: Iraqi parliament approves 3 crucial security officials

    THE END OF AN ERA: In his trademark combative style, Rep. Tom DeLay bid farewell today to his colleagues in a speech in the House chamber where he applauded the virtues of partisanship and criticized compromise that betrays principles. Partisanship, said the Sugar Land Republican, "is not a symptom of a democracy's weakness, but of its health and strength." "You show me a nation without partisanship, and I'll show you a tyranny," said the former majority leader who has been in the House for more than two decades. Houston Chronicle: DeLay bids farewell to his House colleagues and Text of his farewell address

    TX DEMS WANT DELAY ON BALLOT: The Texas Democratic Party won a temporary restraining order Thursday blocking the process that would name a replacement for Republican U.S. Rep. Tom DeLay on the November ballot. State District Judge Darlene Byrne ordered Texas GOP Chairwoman Tina Benkiser not to convene party officials to decide on DeLay's replacement until after a June 22 court hearing. Democrats are trying to keep DeLay's name on the ballot, which would also keep his legal problems in front of voters. DeLay leaves Congress on Friday. AP via Yahoo! News: Democrats want DeLay's name on ballot

    SENATE FAILS TO KILL THE PARIS HILTON TAX: The Senate refused Thursday to kill the estate tax on inherited wealth, marking the clearest sign yet that at least some of the tax cuts passed at the initiative of President Bush in 2001 won't be made permanent. The effort failed when a group of mostly Republican senators who wanted to repeal the tax failed to get the 60 votes needed to overcome a Democratic filibuster; they fell short, 57-41. USA Today: Senate rejects efforts to abolish estate tax; GOP leaders pledge to try again

    HOUSE DEMS WANT JEFFERSON OFF WAYS AND MEANS: Members of the Democratic Steering and Policy Committee voted to toss Rep. William Jefferson (La.) from the Ways and Means Committee on Thursday evening, a recommendation that is expected to be ratified next Thursday by the full Democratic Caucus -- unless the Congressman steps down on his own before then. Roll Call: Vote Sets Stage for Jefferson Ways and Means Expulsion

    SPECTER VS. CHENEY, ROUND TWO: Vice President Dick Cheney on Thursday told the Senate Judiciary Committee chairman that he is willing to work with Congress on new rules governing the White House's eavesdropping program. But Cheney stopped short of promising any action as he responded to a terse letter from Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa., the day before. AP via Yahoo! News: Cheney responds to eavesdropping rules

    DASCHLE IN THE GRANITE STATE: Tom Daschle, once the most important Democrat in the Senate, tested a possible appeal to New Hampshire voters Thursday to make him the most important Democrat in 2008. The former three-term senator, who is considering a White House bid, excoriated President Bush in a speech to local New Hampshire Democrats, arguing that the chief executive and his administration "have got to be the most arrogant crowd I ever worked with." AP via Yahoo! News: Daschle tests New Hampshire for candidacy

    RUDY RULES OUT INDEPENDENT RUN FOR PRESIDENT: Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani ruled out running for president as an independent, blunting speculation that he would do better outside the Republican party. "I'll run as a Republican if I run," Giuliani said at a press conference before a speech yesterday in Chicago to the World Business Forum, a gathering of 1,500 senior corporate executives. Bloomberg: Giuliani Says He Wouldn't Run for President as an Independent

    ARNOLD AND ANGELIDES GET READY TO RUMBLE: From Eureka to San Diego, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and his newly minted Democratic challenger Phil Angelides churned across California and clashed over tax increases Wednesday as they opened their five-month battle over the state's top office. Los Angeles Times: Governor's Race Hits the Road

    IMMIGRANTS APPLY FOR CITIZENSHIP IN RECORD NUMBERS: Driven by the fierce congressional debate over immigration, immigrants nationwide are applying for U.S. citizenship in record numbers or seeking to solidify their legal status in a move to protect themselves at a time of political uncertainty. Many fear that laws could toughen, preventing them from becoming naturalized or from bringing relatives into the United States; others appear to be motivated by the chance to obtain more rights and boost their political clout through voting. Washington Post: Applications for U.S. Citizenship Surge

    CONGRESS GETTING OLDER: As a body, the Senate is rapidly closing in on qualifying for Medicare: The average age of the 100-member chamber in January 2005, the beginning of the 109th Congress, was 60.4 years old. That's the oldest it has ever been, according to the Senate Historical Office. The House's average age is 55, the oldest since at least 1949. USA Today: Congress getting grayer but not ready to retire
    Posted By David DeSola, CNN Washington Bureau: 6/09/2006 10:26:00 AM ET | Permalink
    Thursday, June 08, 2006
    The Situation Online
    Is that prison price-tag paying off?
    We examine a new study from a prisoner rights group that highlights what we're NOT getting for $60 billion a year.

    Al Qaeda on al-Zarqawi
    A look online at how al Qaeda is responding to al-Zarqawi's death.

    Series of stolen laptops
    On Capitol Hill today, lawmakers grill the top Veterans Affairs official over how the department lost personal information on over 26 million veterans and active-duty personnel. Those concerned over identity theft should visit this special government resource.
    Posted By The Situation Online Producers: 6/08/2006 04:00:00 PM ET | Permalink
    Sen. John Kerry on al-Zarqawi's death
    The following is a statement from Sen. John Kerry, the Democrats' 2004 presidential nominee, regarding the death of "al Qaeda in Iraq" leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi:

    This ruthless thug who abused the true meaning of Islam was an intruder on Iraqi soil and it's good news that he's dead.

    Our troops did an incredible job hunting him down and destroying him, and all of America is proud of their skill and commitment.

    With the end of al-Zarqawi and the confirmation of the final vital Cabinet ministries in Iraq's new government, it's another sign that it's time for Iraqis to stand up for Iraq, bring the factions together, end the insurgency, and run their own country.

    Our troops have done their job in Iraq, and they've done it valiantly. It's time to work with the new Iraqi government to bring our combat troops home by the end of this year.
    Posted By Greg Botelho, CNN Washington Bureau: 6/08/2006 02:23:00 PM ET | Permalink
    Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist on al-Zarqawi's death
    The following is a statement from Sen. Bill Frist, a Tennessee Republican and the U.S. Senate Majority Leader, regarding the death of "al Qaeda in Iraq" leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi:

    Our military forces are to be commended for their dedication to eradicating the terrorist network in Iraq.

    Today's success in eliminating the thuggish terrorist Al-Zarqawi is a sure sign that they are on the way to accomplishing that goal.

    It also a significant day in the formation of the government of Iraq: The appointment of ministers of defense, interior and national security is another positive step forward.

    These developments are major steps forward and although major challenges remain, I am more optimistic then ever that a free and stable Iraq can be achieved.
    Posted By Greg Botelho, CNN Washington Bureau: 6/08/2006 02:09:00 PM ET | Permalink
    Rep. John Murtha on al-Zarqawi's death
    The following is a statement from Rep. John Murtha, a Pennsylvania Democrat critical of the Bush administration's efforts in Iraq, regarding the death of "al Qaeda in Iraq" leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi:

    My compliments to Gen. Casey and the troops involved in eliminating al-Zarqawi.

    This obviously will have a significant impact in reducing the amount of violence in Iraq. The significance of this event is also in bringing in Iraqi intelligence to coordinate the effort with U.S. forces.

    With the appointment of defense and interior ministers, we should be able to substantially reduce our presence in Iraq and redeploy our military outside of
    Iraq.
    Posted By Greg Botelho, CNN Washington Bureau: 6/08/2006 02:01:00 PM ET | Permalink
    House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi on al-Zarqawi's death
    The following is a statement from Rep. Nancy Pelosi, a California Democrat and the House Democratic leader, regarding the death of "al Qaeda in Iraq" leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi:

    I salute the efforts of the American troops who have worked tirelessly to track down the evil terrorist al-Zarqawi.

    Democrats have long said that 2006 must be a year of significant transition in Iraq, where the Iraqis take responsibility for their security.

    The death of al-Zarqawi and the naming of the Iraqi defense and interior ministers should bring us closer to that goal, and hasten the day when American troops can come home.
    Posted By Greg Botelho, CNN Washington Bureau: 6/08/2006 01:54:00 PM ET | Permalink
    House Speaker Dennis Hastert on al-Zarqawi's death
    The following is a statement from Rep. Dennis Hastert, an Illinois Republican and the speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, regarding the death of "al Qaeda in Iraq" leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi:

    Today, our American troops looked evil in its face and it's dead.

    This is a major victory for our troops and the Iraqi people, a victory for the war on terror and certainly our American families.

    Al-Zarqawi was certainly a murder and a known beheader of innocent civilians.
    Posted By Greg Botelho, CNN Washington Bureau: 6/08/2006 01:04:00 PM ET | Permalink
    Sen. Pat Roberts on al-Zarqawi's death
    The following is a statement from Sen. Pat Roberts, a Kansas Republican and Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, regarding the death of "al Qaeda in Iraq" leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi:

    As Central Intelligence Agency Director General Hayden told me this morning, better cooperation, hard work and patience paid off.

    General Hayden also stressed this obviously was a joint success with regard to both human intelligence and signals intelligence -- and a result of greater cooperation among our military forces, intelligence assets and Iraqi forces.

    We can expect more aggressive action and follow-up. But we should also understand, this success may be followed by retaliation with an increase in violence -- but we should not be discouraged.

    In addition, there may well be a succession struggle within with the insurgency of which we can take advantage. Zarqawi's death and the information we have obtained will make the leadership of the insurgency more vulnerable.
    Posted By Greg Botelho, CNN Washington Bureau: 6/08/2006 12:53:00 PM ET | Permalink
    The Morning Grind


    Al-Zarqawi was a Sunni militant and protege of Osama bin Laden.

    Al Qaeda leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi was killed in a coalition airstrike, it was announced this morning, bringing an end to the search for the most wanted terrorist in Iraq.

    "Today, Zarqawi has been killed," said Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki at a news conference where he was flanked by the U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Zalmay Khalilzad and Gen. George Casey, the highest-ranking U.S. commander in Iraq. The announcement was greeted by cheers and applause.

    Just hours later, President Bush appeared before the cameras and said, "Zarqawi has met his end, and this violent man will never murder again."

    News of al-Zarqawi's death is expected to give a boost to the new Iraqi government that is trying to establish itself. Al-Zarqawi is blamed for orchestrating a web of violence and killings throughout Iraq as he sought to undermine the coalition's efforts to help establish a post Saddam Hussein government in that country.

    "There's a special place in Hell reserved for him," said Sen. Joe Biden (D-Delaware), the senior Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. "What Zarqawi did, he killed everybody indiscriminately. He killed Sunni, Shia. He was trying to foment the civil war, which he got going. So, what he would do, he would kill Sunnis and that would get blamed on the Shia, and then he killed Shia, and then he killed Kurds. He killed anybody at all."

    While Bush said al-Zarqawi's death gives "renewed confidence in the final outcome of this struggle," he noted that it is not over and asked for the "continued patience of the American people."

    ***


    DELAY LEAVES CONGRESS WITH 'NO REGRETS': Former House Majority Tom DeLay (R-Texas) says he does not "have any regrets" and believes it is now "time for me to go" as he prepares to end his 20-plus year career in Congress.

    Speaking to CNN's Candy Crowley on the eve of his resignation, DeLay displayed an aura of a man just getting started rather than a person who reluctantly came to the realization that he was becoming a distraction and a liability to the political party he helped build.

    "It became quite evident to me that I could be more effective outside the House than in it now," DeLay said in an interview that will air this afternoon on the Situation Room. "I had stepped down from my leadership position. I would have been locked in to a re-election in the 22nd District of Texas and that is not what I ought to be doing.

    "I ought to be out helping elect Republicans, helping to defeat Democrats, talking about the conservative view and where we want to take the country," he added.

    DeLay was forced to step down from his post as majority leader last year after he was indicted in Texas for allegedly breaking state campaign finance laws. DeLay denies any wrongdoing and is fighting the charges. He also has been scrutinized for his close relationship with disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff, who has pled guilty and is working with federal officials in a wide ranging government corruption probe. Two of DeLay's former aides have also copped pleas and are also cooperating with the Justice Department. DeLay has not been charged with any crime, and he claimed in the interview that this has been a 10 year effort by Democrats to try and bring him down.

    "I would be stupid if I did anything wrong," he said. "I mean this effort by the Democrats started in 1995 with my first frivolous ethics charges. Don't you believe that I have had lawyers and accountants and experts watching my every move for the last 10 years?"

    Reflecting on his Congressional career, DeLay said he is most proud of "pushing the conservative cause" and bringing the "conservative worldview into the mainstream." And he vowed to continue promoting this line of political thinking, as well as being active in the midterm elections.

    "All I know right now is that I am supposed to push the conservative cause, support Israel and that is just about the extent of it," he said. "I am sure I am going to be traveling a lot and talking about conservatism and the conservative worldview. We need more voices doing that."

    And he offered a parting shot about his counterpart, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-California), noting that her "hatred (of him) is amazing."

    DeLay is also expected to give his final speech from the House floor today. To see more of what DeLay had to say as he prepares to leave Congress, tune into the Situation Room this afternoon.

    CNN's Mike Roselli contributed to this report.

    ***


    HOUSE LAWYERS CALL FBI SEARCH OF REP. JEFFERSON'S OFFICE UNCONSTITUTIONAL, CONCEDE SUCH SEARCHES ARE OK UNDER SOME CIRCUMSTANCES: House lawyers asserted Wednesday that the FBI raid of Rep. William Jefferson's (D-Louisiana) Capitol Hill office was unconstitutional, but conceded such searches could be allowed under certain circumstances.

    The lawyers stated the House's position in a brief filed on behalf of the Republican and Democratic leadership, and noted that it is not the leadership's position that Jefferson or any other lawmaker "is above the law or immune from prosecution," CNN's Terry Frieden reports.

    "We think it is possible for the Justice Department to execute a search warrant on a congressional office to secure evidence that is relevant to a legitimate criminal investigation, provided the warrant is executed pursuant to protocols and procedures that are pre-established -- either by agreement between the House and the Justice Department, or by legislation -- and consistent with the requirements of the Constitution," the lawyers stated in the court filing.

    Jefferson is being investigated for allegedly accepting bribes, but has not been charged yet with any crime. Several weeks ago, the FBI executed a weekend raid of his Capitol Hill office in search of evidence. Jefferson has declared his innocence.

    While acknowledging that the FBI has a right to pursue an investigation, House lawyers said it is the leadership's position that lawmakers must be allowed to be present and able to remove paperwork that is protected by the "speech and debate" clause of the Constitution. This clause gives lawmakers immunity in the performance of their legislative duties. The Justice Department had no comment on the matter, but a senior law enforcement official, requesting anonymity, said such a request is a non-starter.

    "The argument that members should be informed before a search takes place is a scenario which, in law enforcement's view, is a non-starter and contrary to how every other search is conducted," the official said. "That argument would place a member of Congress above the law."

    The House lawyers contend that if the search isn't ruled unconstitutional, then it will be a "grave threat" to the balance of powers between the three branches of government.

    "It will reduce Congress to a subordinate branch of government by opening the door to unchecked executive branch overreach and abuse that could, among other things, obstruct and chill Congress' oversight function," the House stated in its brief.

    The raid has strained relations between Congress and the Justice Department and forced President Bush to step in and put a 45 day freeze on the FBI's ability to review the material seized from Jefferson's office while a resolution is worked out.

    ***


    DEAN DEFENDS GORE: Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean is defending former Vice President Al Gore, who is coming under attack from critics for his new movie on the dangers of global warming. Dean blasted out an e-mail to Democrats yesterday asking them to sign an online note to Gore to express their support for his efforts to bring attention to the issue.

    "Enough is enough and people know it," Dean wrote in the e-mail. "Al Gore is demonstrating exactly the kind of courage and moral clarity that Democrats will bring when we take back Congress and win elections up and down the ballot this year."

    Dean specifically singled out recent comments by two critics who compared Gore to Adolf Hitler and Nazi propagandist Joseph Goebbels. The former Vice President's movie, "An Inconvenient Truth," opened last month.
    Posted By Mark Preston, CNN Political Unit: 6/08/2006 11:24:00 AM ET | Permalink
    DAYAHEAD: Events making news today...
  • President Bush spoke at 7:30 a.m. ET about Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's death in Iraq. He then spoke at 8 a.m. ET at the National Hispanic Prayer Breakfast in the JW Marriott Hotel. At 10:10 a.m. ET, Bush will meet with governors on the issue of the line item veto in the White House. The President then meets with Chilean President Michelle Bachelet at 11:10 a.m. ET in the White House. Bush and First Lady Laura Bush are scheduled to leave the White House at 3 p.m. ET for Camp David.

  • The Senate gaveled into session at 9:30 a.m. ET and resumed consideration of a bill to repeal the estate tax. The House comes into session at 10 a.m. ET.

  • First Lady Laura Bush was scheduled to deliver 9:30 a.m. ET remarks at the National Press Club on the President's Initiative for Fighting Malaria in Africa.

  • The House Armed Services Committee holds a 10 a.m. ET hearing to assess the threat of Iran in 2118 Rayburn House Office Building.

  • Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff and U.S. Coast Guard Commandant Admiral Thad Allen appear before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee at 10 a.m. ET to discuss "National Emergency Management: Getting the Structure Right" in room 342 of the Dirksen Senate Office Building.

  • House Majority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) holds a 10:30 a.m. ET news conference in the House Radio and TV Gallery.

  • House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-California) holds a 10:45 a.m. ET news conference in room H-206 of the Capitol. At 11:45 a.m. ET Pelosi delivers a speech on the National Coordinated Effort of Hellenes Annual Cyprus Conference in room 2168 of the Rayburn House Office Building.

  • Republican Sens. Jon Kyl (Arizona), Trent Lott (Mississippi), Bob Bennett (Utah) and Jeff Sessions (Alabama) hold a noon news conference to discuss repealing the estate tax.

  • California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) kicks off day two of his "Protecting the California Dream Tour" in Antioch, California at 1 p.m. ET.

  • House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Illinois) and Pelosi meet with Chilean President Michelle Bachelet at 2:30 p.m. ET in room H-230 of the Capitol.

  • Republican National Committee Chairman Ken Mehlman attends the Indiana Republican Party State Dinner in Indianapolis at 6:30 p.m. ET.
  • Posted By Mark Preston, CNN Political Unit: 6/08/2006 11:03:00 AM ET | Permalink
    Political Hot Topics
    AL-ZARQAWI DEAD: Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the mastermind behind hundreds of bombings, kidnappings and beheadings in Iraq, was killed Wednesday evening by an air strike northwest of Baghdad, U.S. and Iraqi officials said Thursday. Washington Post: Insurgent Leader Al-Zarqawi Killed in Iraq

    SAME-SEX MARRIAGE BAN FAILS: A constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage, backed by President Bush and conservative groups, was soundly defeated in the Senate yesterday after proponents failed to persuade a bare majority of all senators to support the measure. Washington Post: Gay Marriage Amendment Fails in Senate

    SPECTER'S TELL-ALL LETTER: A senior Republican lawmaker went public on Wednesday about his often tense and complicated relationship with the Bush White House in a remarkable display of the strains within the party. The lawmaker, Senator Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, accused Vice President Dick Cheney of meddling behind his back in the committee's business, bringing into the open a conflict that has simmered for months. New York Times: Specter's Uneasy Relationship with White House is Revealed in a Letter to Cheney

    GOP CALM FOR NOW: Fearing humiliation in a race that drew national attention, the National Republican Congressional Committee pumped about $5 million into the race to replace imprisoned former congressman Randy "Duke" Cunningham. But by late Tuesday night on the West Coast, it proved to be money well-spent after former congressman Brian Bilbray won with 49 percent of the vote in the traditionally Republican district... The results settled Republican nerves, which have been set on edge by months of nearly relentless bad omens, including corruption scandals and dismal poll ratings for President Bush and the GOP leadership in Congress. Washington Post: Victory in California Calms GOP

    FRIEND OR FOE? FALWELL AND MCCAIN CAN'T DECIDE: The recent marriage of two former political foes may already be over. Or at least the relationship got a bit more complicated with today's Senate vote on the Marriage Protection Amendment. But yesterday, before the vote, Falwell gave his thoughts on the potential fallout from the Marriage Protection Amendment fight. "I want to see where everyone stands. It's my opinion that anyone in the Senate running on the national level will be committing political suicide by voting against it," he told the Richmond Times-Dispatch. Falwell's strong statement has obvious implications for McCain. Either Falwell will continue to speak positively about McCain and project an openness to supporting him for president. Or, Falwell will back away from the Senator, work actively to make sure he does not win in 2008, and match his actions with his statement about the importance of the marriage vote. Political Wire: Vote Likely to Strain Falwell-McCain Marriage

    STILL NOT CLEAR WHICH WAY DEMS WILL LEAN ON JEFFERSON'S COMMITTEE SEAT: The Ways and Means Committee seat of Rep. William Jefferson (D-La.) officially remained in limbo Wednesday night, but after the Democratic Steering and Policy Committee met early Wednesday evening, it seemed more likely that Jefferson's colleagues would move to expel him from the exclusive panel -- a move that could set up a clash between Democratic leaders and Jefferson's allies in the Congressional Black Caucus. Roll Call: Steering Panel Inches Toward Forcing Jefferson From Committee Seat

    THERE'S NO CHOICE IN THE ABORTION ISSUE FOR SOUTH DAKOTANS: Four Republican state senators who voted against South Dakota's abortion ban lost their primary elections, raising questions about support for an effort to repeal the controversial state law. "There's certainly no good news in the outcome for pro-choice advocates," Bob Burns, a political science professor at South Dakota State University, said Wednesday. USA Today: Republicans Opposed to Abortion Ban Lose in S.D.

    DONATIONS GO TO JERRY'S STEP KID: A political fundraising committee headed by a defense contractor has paid thousands of dollars in fees to the stepdaughter of House Appropriations Committee Chairman Jerry Lewis (R-Redlands) at a time when the contractor has been lobbying Congress for funding. Lewis' stepdaughter, Julia Willis-Leon, has been paid more than $42,000 by the Small Biz Tech Political Action Committee, according to campaign finance records. The PAC is led by Nicholas Karangelen, founder and president of Trident Systems Inc. Los Angeles Times: Powerful Lawmaker's Relative Linked Financially to Contractor

    GOOOOALLLLL! DEMS TRY TO SCORE WITH HISPANIC VOTERS: World Cup soccer is "mas que un partido" -- more than a game -- to a group of Democrats. It's a chance to win over Hispanic voters. The New Democrat Network is starting a $2 million Spanish-language campaign of radio and television ads urging Hispanics to get involved in the political process. The five-month effort begins with ads during the World Cup soccer games that begin this weekend in Germany... The ads will run on Univision, Telefutura, Fox Sports en Espanol and Futbol de Primera, the radio soccer network of well-known broadcaster Andres Cantor. Cantor -- known for his trademark exclamation "GOOOOALLLLL!" -- will be featured on an early radio ad. AP News: Democrats Court Hispanics During World Cup
    Posted By Xuan Thai, CNN Washington Bureau: 6/08/2006 10:36:00 AM ET | Permalink
    Wednesday, June 07, 2006
    The Situation Online


    Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA)

    Specter's angry letter
    Read the angry three-page letter Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter sent to Vice President Dick Cheney, arguing Cheney "sought to influence, really determine" the committee's investigation in to the NSA spy program.

    Sneaky teens?
    What type of personal information are teens posting online, are they telling the truth, and how concerned are parents? Two new studies provide some startling statistics.

    Stolen military records

    Last night Department of Veterans Affairs announced that of the some 26 million records comprised in a massive data breach, more than two million included active military personnel. In this letter just sent to the President, House lawmakers detail their discontent.

    The new New Orleans
    The U.S. Census Bureau releases online the first study of population changes on the Gulf Coast following last year's hurricane season. The data reveals a smaller, older, Whiter, and wealthier New Orleans.

    Vicious veto cycle
    First-term Governor Janet Napolitano vetoed her 115th bill on Tuesday, setting a state record for the most vetoes in Arizona. From Immigration to abortion rights to budgets, the details of each and every veto can be found online.
    .

    Posted By The Situation Online Producers: 6/07/2006 06:20:00 PM ET | Permalink
    The Morning Grind


    Republican Brian Bilbray greets a supporter celebrating his victory in a closely watched House race.

    Bilbray wins special election: What about the Democratic wave?

    The Democratic wave never materialized in San Diego yesterday as former Rep. Brian Bilbray (R-California) overcame predictions of defeat to win the right to serve out the remaining seven months of jailed ex-Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham's (R-California) term.

    Bilbray's victory in Tuesday's special election likely gives him an advantage over Democratic nominee Francine Busby in November when the two opponents square off again in the general election for their own two-year term. But political analyst Stuart Rothenberg told the Grind this morning that Bilbray's win should not be viewed as a sign that Democrats have no chance of taking back control of Congress in November. He pointed out that Bilbray was held to 50 percent of the vote, five points less than what President Bush received in the 2004 election and eight points shy of Cunningham's election victory that same year.

    "On the one hand there is clearly relief and a sense of hope for Republicans in November," Rothenberg said. "On the other hand, they have got to be concerned about the Republican drop off, and Democrats have got to figure they are still headed for a good year."

    As for Busby's ability to pull only 45 percent of the vote after railing against Bilbray for being a lobbyist and seeking to gain from Cunningham's admission of accepting bribes, Rothenberg noted, "Clearly, Busby didn't grow her vote."

    Republicans immediately sought to dampen any speculation about a forthcoming Democratic wave and suggested that House races are not subject to national moods.

    "National Democrats did not discover their shockwave in San Diego," National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Tom Reynolds (New York) declared in a statement released by his office this morning. "National Democrats must come to terms with the fact that momentum for the midterm elections will not materialize simply because they preordain it in the media or because they ask their special interest friends to buy it for them.

    "The results in San Diego show that nothing has happened to alter the notion that House elections are about a choice between local personalities focused on local issues," Reynolds added.

    But Democrats echoed Rothenberg's point that Bilbray performed poorly in a reliably Republican district.

    "In an election cycle that is shaping up to be a change vs. the status quo contest, Francine Busby has shown that a strong change message can make even former members of Congress vulnerable in deeply red Republican districts," Sarah Feinberg, a spokeswoman for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, wrote in an e-mail to the Grind. "After spending more than $5 million, using national Republican leaders like George Bush, John McCain and Laura Bush, and running hugely negative ads, Brian Bilbray and the NRCC were able to pull out less than 50 percent of the vote in a very solidly Republican district."

    Busby is expected to release a statement later this morning. For more local coverage from yesterday's primaries, scroll down to Political Hot Topics.

    ***


    AND THE WINNER IS ...?: Who will be declared the winner once the Senate rejects an attempt to cut off debate this morning on a proposal to add an amendment to the Constitution banning same sex marriage? It depends on who you ask. The Marriage Protection Amendment is expected to receive the support of a majority of senators but still fall short of the 60 votes needed to cut off debate, or essentially end a filibuster. MPA supporters argue that this is a long-term project and gaining votes for it -- which they will do today -- shows momentum towards their ultimate goal of putting in place a federal ban on same sex marriage. In the very least, MPA supporters said the Congress needs to vote on this issue every year so as to put lawmakers on record. But opponents will point out that supporters failed to even get enough votes to end debate and proceed to a straight up-or-down vote on it. One measure of whether holding a predetermined "losing vote" was effective won't be known until after the midterm elections. Republicans acknowledge the vote was held to help excite the conservative wing of the GOP base, who have threatened to stay home on Election Day because of their dissatisfaction with Congressional Republicans and President Bush.

    ***


    SHOCKED: A new magazine full of graphic photographs is being distributed around Capitol Hill today as its publisher tries to generate buzz for the newest addition to the glossy media world. "Shock" is supposed to, well, shock readers by printing photographs depicting death, hostage situations, corpses, the horrors of war, people setting themselves on fire and other situations that have shock value. The inaugural cover depicts an American soldier carrying a bloody Iraqi child, which is why the magazine decided to hold a promotional event in the nation's capital.

    "We felt because the cover story is about the war, it would provoke some conversation," said Anne Janas, a spokeswoman for the magazine, which is published by Hachette Filipacchi Media US. The company also publishes such titles as "Car and Driver," "Cycle World," "Woman's Day," and "Elle." About 1,500 magazines are being handed out today and the magazine can also be viewed by visiting its Web site, shocku.com.
    Posted By Mark Preston, CNN Political Unit: 6/07/2006 12:39:00 PM ET | Permalink
    DAYAHEAD: Events making news today ...
  • President Bush toured the Catholic Charities Juan Diego Center at 8:55 a.m. ET in Omaha, Nebraska. He then delivered 9:40 a.m. ET remarks on the need for "comprehensive immigration reform" at Metropolitan Community College in Omaha. Bush returns to the White House at 1:20 p.m. ET and at 2:45 p.m. ET he participates in a swearing-in ceremony of new Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne.

  • The Senate resumed consideration of the Marriage Protection Amendment at 9 a.m. ET and voted on cloture to end debate at 10 a.m. ET. The House gaveled into session at 10 a.m. ET. Congress convenes a joint session at 11 a.m. ET to hear from Latvian President Vaira Vike-Freiberga.

  • The Senate Foreign Relations Committee was scheduled to hear testimony from former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan at 9 a.m. ET on the issue of "Oil Dependence and Economic Risk."

  • The House Democratic Caucus holds a media briefing at 10 a.m. ET in the Cannon House Office Building rotunda following its weekly meeting.

  • The House Republican Conference holds a media briefing at 10 a.m. ET outside room HC-6 in the Capitol following its weekly meeting.

  • Sens. Kent Conrad (D-North Dakota), Joe Lieberman (D-Connecticut) and Barack Obama (D-Illinois) hold a 10:15 a.m. ET news conference in the Senate Radio & TV Gallery to talk about the estate tax.

  • Supporters of the MPA hold an 11 a.m. ET news conference in Senate Radio & TV Gallery following the vote.

  • California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) begins a campaign swing beginning at 11:15 a.m. ET in Samoa, California.

  • Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Massachusetts) meets with Honduras President Manuel Zelaya at noon in 317 Russell Senate Office Building to discuss immigration reform.

  • The Sierra Club and United Steelworkers hold a noon news conference at the National Press Club to announce formation of a strategic alliance.
  • Posted By Mark Preston, CNN Political Unit: 6/07/2006 12:34:00 PM ET | Permalink
    Political Hot Topics
    MORE SIGNS OF PROGRESS WITH IRAN: Iran on Tuesday welcomed an array of international incentives aimed at persuading the country to freeze crucial nuclear activities, but stressed that there were issues that needed to be resolved before any agreement could be reached. "We had constructive talks," Ali Larijani, Iran's chief nuclear negotiator. The offer made by the United States, Russia, China, France, Britain and Germany requires Iran to freeze its uranium enrichment and reprocessing or face an array of possible penalties. New York Times: Iran Open to Incentives on Nuclear Talks, With a Hedge

    FEW SURPRISES IN TUESDAY'S PRIMARIES: Alabama Gov. Bob Riley easily won the Republican primary contest last night... The results were among the first to come in a night when primaries and special elections across the nation were being closely watched for signs of the broader political environment that will influence this fall's midterm elections... Tuesday's results yielded no significant surprises. Washington Post: States' Primaries Are a Midterm Bellwether

    HELLOOOO... IT'S THE ECONOMY (AND HEALTH CARE AND IMMIGRATION): Though some Republican candidates may relish the Senate's current concentration on same-sex marriage and other ideologically charged topics, Senator Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island is not among them... Other Republicans, including some conservatives, say Mr. Chafee may not be the only potential victim of what they see as a misguided effort to appeal to social conservatives by staging votes intended primarily to make a point about the party's values. They say that voters are more concerned about the economy, health care and immigration, and that replaying the marriage debate in particular could do as much damage as good as Republicans fight to retain control of Congress. New York Times: Senate Emphasis on Ideology Has Some in G.O.P. Anxious

    CONGRESSMAN, PLEASE STATE YOUR CASE: House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) last night extended an invitation to Rep. William Jefferson (D-La.) to address a members-only meeting of House Democrats this afternoon, allowing Jefferson the chance to state his case before the Democratic Steering and Policy Committee, a decision-making body which looks poised to vote to oust him from the Ways and Means Committee while he faces a government bribery investigation. The Hill: Pelosi invites Jefferson to address House Democrats

    ESTATE TAX DIVIDING GOP: Senate Republicans, pushing once again to abolish the estate tax on inherited wealth, are split about whether to push for a full repeal that would probably fail, or seek a more cautious compromise with Democrats that could pass. Permanently repealing the estate tax, or what Republicans have branded the "death tax," is a priority for President Bush and many Republican lawmakers. But Senate leaders, vowing to schedule a vote for full repeal on Thursday, have yet to line up the 60 votes they need to prevent a Democratic filibuster. New York Times: Estate Tax Showdown Is Splitting the G.O.P.

    CA PRIMARY: ANGELIDES BEATS WESTLY, WILL TAKE ON ARNOLD: After months of vitriolic campaigning, state Treasurer Phil Angelides laid claim early today to the Democratic nomination for governor and pledged to turn his candidacy into a "fight for the California of our dreams. I will not let you down," Angelides told exuberant supporters in Sacramento. Los Angeles Times: Angelides to Face Schwarzenegger in November

    CA 50: GOP CAN BREATH A SIGH OF RELIEF: Republican Brian Bilbray beat Democrat Francine Busby early Wednesday in a close race to replace imprisoned former Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham in the 50th Congressional District, a contest seen as a gauge of voter attitudes for the national midterm elections. San Diego Union-Tribue: Bilbray edges out Busby

    AL: RILEY BEATS TEN COMMANDMENTS JUDGE: Republican Gov. Bob Riley and Democratic Lt. Gov. Lucy Baxley swept aside challengers in Tuesday's party primaries and will meet in the November general election for governor. Riley, buoyed by a strong economy, the absence of scandal in his administration and voter confidence in his leadership, easily defeated former Chief Justice Roy Moore in the Republican primary. Birmingham News: GOP picks Riley; Democrats, Baxley

    MT: CONRAD BURNS PRIMED AND READY TO GO: Jon Tester bolted to an early, decisive lead over John Morrison in the Democratic U.S. Senate primary race, while Republican incumbent Sen. Conrad Burns sewed up a quick victory Tuesday night. Burns was expected to post a decisive win over state Senate Minority Leader Bob Keenan in the four-way Republican primary, and he did so handily ... Burns led by more than a 3-to-1 margin over [Bob] Keenan, of Bigfork. Missoulian: Tester to face Burns: State Senate president beats Morrison in Democratic primary for U.S. Senate

    NJ: NO REAL CHALLENGE FOR EITHER PARTY IN PRIMARY: Democratic U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez and Republican state Sen. Tom Kean Jr. shook off their primary challengers last night and immediately took aim at each other in a campaign that has begun to heat up five months before the general election. Unofficial returns showed Kean beat a conservative opponent by better than 3-to-1 and Menendez defeated a little-known candidate by more than 5-to-1. The Star-Ledger: Menendez and Kean sail past primary

    IA: RACE SET TO ELECT 4th GOVERNOR IN 40 YEARS: Iowa Secretary of State Chet Culver claimed the 2006 Democratic nomination for governor Tuesday, turning back a late challenge by former state economic development director Mike Blouin and outpacing state Rep. Ed Fallon. Culver will face U.S. Rep. Jim Nussle, an eight-term Republican congressman from Manchester, in the fall general election." Des Moines Register: Culver edges Blouin to face Nussle

    WHAT WILL DEMS DO WITHOUT DELAY?: Rep. Tom DeLay said Tuesday that his decision to quit the House he once helped lead may keep Republicans in the majority. The former House majority leader, speaking in the near-empty office he will vacate Friday, was a favorite target of Democrats, who made his legal troubles the centerpiece of a campaign accusing Republicans of a "culture of corruption." DeLay, who has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing, told USA TODAY his departure "makes it very difficult for them to continue that strategy." Democrats don't disagree. The party's most senior House member, John Dingell of Michigan, said: "It will be helpful to Democrats if he were to stay. ... We will miss him." USA Today: DeLay says departure disrupts Dems' strategy
    Posted By Xuan Thai, CNN Washington Bureau: 6/07/2006 12:07:00 PM ET | Permalink
    Tuesday, June 06, 2006
    The Situation Online
    V.A. stolen data update
    The Department of Veterans Affairs announces that stolen data on 26.5 million military personnel included information on as many as 1.1 million active duty soldiers, much more than initially projected.

    Vets sue V.A.
    Tens of thousands of veterans are suing the Veterans Affairs Department in another class action suit that follows a major security breach involving the personal data of 26.5 million military personnel.

    Your phone records
    The ACLU wants the FCC to halt approval of a merger between AT&T and BellSouth until the FCC reviews allegations whether the telecoms provided the NSA with millions of customer phone records. Read BellSouth and AT&T's latest statements in response to the USA today article.

    Did the CIA employ Nazis?
    Get a first look at newly released CIA documents (PDF) made public by a division of the National Archives, tasked with identifying and declassifying U.S. intelligence documents relating to Nazi Germany and Japan during WWII.

    West Coast tsunami?
    The U.S. government warns that Pacific coast states face the greatest tsunami hazard. While some hypothetical maps have been created predicting what would happen if a tsunami hit, a new report (PDF) reveals that many states may be unprepared for a tsunami disaster.
    Posted By The Situation Online Producers: 6/06/2006 04:25:00 PM ET | Permalink
    The Morning Grind


    The resignation of ex-Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham has led to a key political battle in California.

    Voters in eight states head to the polls; Signs of a political wave in California?

    The much hyped Democratic political wave could show its first sign of forming today in California, as San Diego voters head to the polls to choose a replacement for former Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham (R).

    The California special election to replace Cunningham -- who was convicted of taking bribes -- is one of several marquee races taking place across the country as a handful of intra-party fights are settled in Alabama, California, Iowa, Mississippi, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico and South Dakota.

    Alabama, California, Iowa and South Dakota all have gubernatorial contests. In Montana, Democrats will choose a nominee to challenge Sen. Conrad Burns (R), while New Mexico Republicans will pick a candidate to challenge Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D). Republicans and Democrats in Iowa and New Jersey will also choose candidates for open House seats.

    But it is California that is ground zero. What should have been an easy race for the GOP is now considered a toss-up primarily because of Cunningham's admission that he accepted bribes and is now serving time in prison. National Democrats and Republicans have poured money into this contest that has focused on two main issues: corruption and illegal immigration.

    Democratic nominee Francine Busby has been talking up the corruption issue echoing the call by Congressional Democrats that it is time for a change in Washington, while former Rep. Brian Bilbray (R-California) has dug his heels in on the issue of illegal immigration hoping to appeal to conservatives who oppose the idea of amnesty that is being promoted by President Bush and most Democrats.

    Marshall Wittmann, a senior fellow at the Democratic Leadership Council, describes this race as being the "canary in the coal mine election" to see if in fact a wave is forming and Busby is able to ride it to victory in this reliably Republican district.

    "Clearly a win for Democrats will mean there is a huge momentum for a party in an otherwise heavily Republican district that people will divine from that perhaps, a wave is on the way," he said.

    A school of thought holds that Bush's sagging approval rating, unhappiness with the Iraq war, and the recent ethics scandals are strong enough issues to create a political wave that could sweep Republicans out of power in the House and Senate in November.

    This special election will also serve as a laboratory to see if the Democratic "Culture of Corruption" campaign theme and illegal immigration are resonating as issues with voters.

    Wittmann suggests that a Bilbray win will actually be considered a victory by people who advocated strict immigration laws.

    "Rather than being great meaning for the Republican Party as a whole, it will be interpreted by the Republican Right as a vindication for their position on closing down the borders," Wittmann said. "And the rest of the Republican Party will just breathe a sigh of relief."

    But Terence Jeffrey, editor of Human Events, said that, while he thinks that Democrats "have a chance to take back the House in November," too much is being made about the outcome of this election. Jeffrey said the corruption issue is more prominent in this district than in others because of Cunningham and the fact is that Bilbray is "more liberal than what the community is" and is a lobbyist at a time when that profession is under scrutiny.

    "I am not sure he is the right candidate," said Jeffrey. "He is definitely not a champion of the conservative movement. Bilbray is not the kind of guy that is going to drive out the conservative vote."

    Bilbray will need a strong turnout from conservatives to win today, while Busby is counting on Democrats and disaffected Republicans and independents to help her squeak out a victory. National Democrats and Republicans are taking no chances. In addition to spending millions on advertising, they are also helping organize get-out-the-vote operations throughout the district.

    Today will also bring to an end a divisive gubernatorial primary in the Golden State. Democrats will nominate either State Treasurer Phil Angelides or State Controller Steve Westly to take on Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) in November. Angelides and Westly have spent millions attacking each other, causing some Democrats to be concerned that the winner will be weakened heading into the general election contest.

    ***


    Former Massachusetts Gov. William Weld, who is running for governor of New York, holds an 11:30 a.m. ET news conference in New York City. Weld is under pressure from New York Republicans to abandon his bid for the GOP nomination for the sake of party unity after former state Assembly Minority Leader John Fasso captured the support of more than 60 percent of the delegates at last week's State Republican Convention.
    Posted By Mark Preston, CNN Political Unit: 6/06/2006 11:58:00 AM ET | Permalink
    DAYAHEAD: Events making news today ...
  • President Bush is en route to New Mexico where he will tour the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center in Artesia at 12:25 p.m. ET. At 1 p.m. ET, Bush delivers a speech on "Border Security and Comprehensive Immigration Reform." The President then heads to Texas and attends a 4:30 p.m. ET briefing at the Laredo Border Patrol Sector headquarters.

  • The Senate reconvenes at 9:45 a.m. ET and considers the nomination of Renee Marie Bumb to be a federal district court judge in New Jersey. The Senate will then resume debate on the Marriage Protection Amendment. Across the Capitol, the House returns from the Memorial Day recess and gavels into session at 2 p.m. ET.

  • The Senate Judiciary Committee holds a 9:30 a.m. ET hearing titled "Examining DOJ's Investigation of Journalists Who Publish Classified Information: Lessons from the Jack Anderson Case."

  • Black pastors hold a 10:30 a.m. ET news conference at the Senate Swamp to voice support for the Marriage Protection Amendment.

  • House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Maryland) holds a pen and pad with reporters at 12:30 p.m. ET in H-306 of the Capitol.

  • House Majority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) holds a pen and pad with reporters at 2 p.m. ET in H-107 of the Capitol.

  • First Lady Laura Bush addresses the Helping America's Youth first regional conference being held at Indiana University at 12 p.m. ET. She then travels to St. Louis Park, Minnesota to participate in a 5:10 p.m. ET Helping America's Youth Event. Bush then speaks at a 6:15 p.m. ET fundraiser for Rep. Mark Kennedy (R-Minnesota), who is running for Senate.
  • Posted By Mark Preston, CNN Political Unit: 6/06/2006 11:52:00 AM ET | Permalink
    Political Hot Topics
    IRAN SHOWING INTEREST IN DEAL: A package of incentives that represents a major initiative by world powers to persuade Iran to curb its nuclear program contains ''positive steps'' but also some ''ambiguities,'' the country's top nuclear negotiator said Tuesday...The incentives package offers economic and political rewards if Tehran relinquishes domestic uranium enrichment, which is used to generate power but can also produce weapons-grade uranium for nuclear warheads. It also contains the implicit threat of U.N. sanctions if Iran remains defiant. New York Times: U.S. Offers Deals on Trade to Entice Iran

    LET THE CONGRESSIONAL RACES BEGIN: Congressional campaigns have begun early and with unusual intensity this year in many districts across the country, reflecting a consensus in both parties that Republicans could lose control of the House and perhaps the Senate. A special election in a bedrock Republican Congressional district in San Diego on Tuesday ... has sharpened the early intensity and could provide the clearest evidence so far about whether Democrats can capitalize on the unsettled political climate. New York Times: House at Stake, Midterm Election Gets Early Start

    PUSH BACK ON PRESIDENTIAL POWER: Republican and Democratic House leaders join forces to protest the FBI search of a congressman's office. The Senate Intelligence Committee demands fuller briefings from the CIA. The Supreme Court hears a landmark case challenging presidential war powers. After five years of a concerted White House campaign, there are tentative signs that Congress and the courts are beginning to push back against what has been the greatest expansion of presidential powers in a generation or more. USA Today: Congress, courts push back against Bush's assertions of presidential power

    NEW POLL SHOWS GOP AND DEMS LIKE TO TRAVEL -- A LOT: Over 5 1/2 years, Republican and Democratic lawmakers accepted nearly $50 million in trips, often to resorts and exclusive locales, from corporations and groups seeking legislative favors, according to the most comprehensive study to date on the subject of congressional travel. From January 2000 through June 2005, House and Senate members and their aides were away from Washington for more than 81,000 days -- a combined 222 years -- on at least 23,000 trips, according to the report, issued yesterday by the nonpartisan Center for Public Integrity. About 2,300 of the trips cost $5,000 or more, at least 500 cost $10,000 or more, and 16 cost $25,000 or more. Washington Post: Privately Funded Trips Add Up on Capitol Hill

    CLINTON IN HIGH DEMAND: In what promises to be his most intensive campaign season since he left office, former President Bill Clinton is scheduled to appear at more than two dozen fund-raisers for Democrats around the country, hoping to collect at least $20 million for his party's drive to recapture Congress. "In contrast to Republican candidates who are running away from George Bush, our candidates are clamoring for him in every part of the country," said Senator Charles E. Schumer. New York Times: Clinton Is the Life of the Democratic Party

    DELAY LEAVES WITH LITTLE FANFARE: Rep. Tom DeLay (R-Texas) will leave Congress this week with a pronounced lack of fanfare. The former majority leader ends his almost-24-year congressional career this week when he officially resigns Friday. The controversial Texan leaves Capitol Hill under a cloud of doubt about the election-year prospects for his Republican colleagues, and his last week in the House promises to be an understated affair. The Hill: DeLay departure will be a deliberately low-key affair

    FINALLY, IT'S CA 50 DAY: On Wednesday, either Brian Bilbray or Francine Busby will probably be packing their bags for Washington -- as the newest member of Congress. The campaign for Tuesday's special-election runoff has been characterized by blistering television ads, visits by national party leaders, and astonishment that the race appears so close despite the district's heavily Republican party registration. Busby has focused her campaign on restoring ethics to Congress, while Bilbray has emphasized his toughness on illegal immigration. San Diego Union-Tribune: Bilbray and Busby taking it to the streets

    SUSPENSEFUL ENDING IN CA: WESTLY AND ANGELIDES: Squabbling to the end, Steve Westly and Phil Angelides stormed across the state in a final burst of campaigning Monday as millions of Californians mulled their choice in today's Democratic primary for governor. The combination of a tight race and an unusually high number of late-deciding voters added suspense and, for the candidates, urgency to the campaign's closing hours. Los Angeles Times: Campaign's End Brings a Scramble for Votes

    MONTANA'S WIDE OPEN PRIMARY: Montana is one of a minority of states that have an open primary -- voters do not register by party and they can select which primary nominating ballot to mark. Today is primary election day and, regardless of which party a voter identifies with, there is at least one reason for every one of the 89,008 registered voters in Yellowstone County to go to the polls ... At the top of the ballot for Republicans and Democrats is the race for the U.S. Senate seat held by Sen. Conrad Burns, R-Mont., whose home is Billings... In all, there are 10 candidates for the seat that Burns won in 1988. Billings Gazette: Hot races, issues on today's ballot

    LOW VOTER TURNOUT IN AL IS GOOD?: Alabama residents will go to the polls Tuesday to elect Democratic and Republican nominees for governor... State political experts predict a low voter turnout despite the controversial marriage amendment and a potentially high profile governor's contest. Dr. William Stewart, a professor emeritus of political science at the University of Alabama, said the state campaigns have failed to generate much voter interest. "A low-key primary may be a good sign in that it shows Alabama has made significant progress toward being a two-party state with the main action in the general election," he said. Huntsville Times: Low-key primary is winding down

    IOWA EXPERIENCES SOMETHING NEW: With no term limit on its top office, the state has had only three leaders in the last 40 years. Think of it this way: In almost 40 years, the Vatican and the U.S. Supreme Court have changed leaders as often as Iowans have elected a new governor. Since 1969 -- the year man first walked on the moon -- Iowa has had just three governors, which is the same number of new popes and chief justices during that time. So today is a bit of an occasion in Iowa. Until today, Iowa voters have only had two chances since 1968 to pick candidates for governor without an incumbent seeking re-election. Des Moines Register: Changes rare in Iowa governor's office
    Posted By Xuan Thai, CNN Washington Bureau: 6/06/2006 09:23:00 AM ET | Permalink
    Monday, June 05, 2006
    The Situation Online
    Snooping study
    A new report reveals a startling 38% of major companies in the U.S. and U.K. hire employees to read and analyze your email. Are you being watched?

    Free ride
    A newly-released study scrutinizes nearly $50 million's worth in free trips awarded to lawmakers and their aides by trade associations and other private groups. The study also examines the often incomplete disclosure documents that must be filed before a Congressional trip.

    Clinton at Princeton

    Former President Bill Clinton's made a stop in Princeton, NJ today to deliver a keynote speech. No cameras were allowed at the Princeton University Event, but the school has posted video of the speech online.

    Web watching the border
    You soon may be able to help catch illegal border crossers from the comfort of your own home, thanks to the Texas Governor's five million dollar plan to install hundreds of Web cameras along the Mexican border.
    Posted By The Situation Online Producers: 6/05/2006 04:29:00 PM ET | Permalink
    The Morning Grind
    Senate begins debate on same sex marriage ban

    While supporters and opponents disagree over the merits of a constitutional amendment to ban same sex marriage, they do agree on two major points.

    A majority of senators will support amending the constitution when they vote on the Marriage Protection Amendment (MPA) Wednesday, but it will fall far short of the two-thirds needed for it to be approved. Supporters and opponents are predicting that the final result will be 52-48, four more votes than the measure received when it was last voted on two years ago. The four-vote swing is the result of GOP victories in the 2004 election.

    The Senate will gavel into session this afternoon and then devote the next three days to debating the issue. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist's (R-Tennessee) decision to schedule a vote on the measure has drawn scorn from Democrats, who charge that this is nothing more than an exercise to help the Republican Party in the midterm election and his own political fortunes in 2008.

    "Instead of dealing with the pressing issues facing the country like the rising cost of gasoline, Senator Frist has decided to use the floor of the Senate to try and advance his presidential ambitions," Jim Manley, a spokesman for Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada), told the Grind. Reid is expected to express displeasure about scheduling debate on the MPA in his opening remarks on the Senate floor this afternoon.

    Some Democrats also point to Frist's decision to schedule a vote later this month on a bill that would outlaw desecrating the U.S. flag as proof that he is trying to excite a frustrated Republican base so that they will turn out in November. But Frist spokeswoman Amy Call said the flag and marriage are two "basic issues of values" and they should be addressed.

    "As a country we value the symbolism of our country in the flag and we value the sanctity of marriage, and we need to know both are protected," Call said in an interview with the Grind.

    President Bush weighed in on the issue over the weekend in his weekly radio address by calling on the Senate to approve the measure. He will echo this request in afternoon remarks with supporters of the MPA. Opponents and supporters will also be holding events (See below DAYAHEAD: Events making news ...) to present their respective arguments on the issue.

    Joe Solmonese, president of the Human Rights Campaign, said his organization has been talking to senators to make sure they don't lose more than four votes. And Solmonese charged that Bush was speaking out multiple times on this issue because the President, personally, needs to shore up support among Republicans. "He has got to make a gesture to these people who are clearly dissatisfied with him on this issue," Solmonese said in an interview with the Grind.

    Tom McClusky, vice president of government affairs for the Family Research Council, said social conservatives would have "liked the President to talk more on this issue," but added "we are happy he is talking about it." And even though McCluksy said supporters of the MPA realize they do not have enough votes to win, he said this vote is needed as they try to build momentum towards putting in place a federal ban on same sex marriage.

    "From the very beginning, we have seen this as a multi-year strategy," McClusky said. "It is not an easy task to pass an amendment on any issue even one that is not controversial. But what needs to start happening, be it a Republican or Democrat not supportive of the amendment, we need to find out why not and try to convince them otherwise. If that doesn't work then people need to start looking at the ballot box and express their concerns that way."

    ***


    A POLITICAL EDUCATION: What do Coe College and Kenyon College have in common? On the surface not much other than both are liberal arts institutions and have comparable enrollments: Coe, 1,300; and Kenyon, 1,600. Oh, and their commencement speakers this year were two Massachusetts politicians.

    Bay State lawmakers? Why Coe? Why Kenyon?

    One needs to look no farther than 2008 to understand why Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney (R) delivered the commencement address at Coe and Sen. John Kerry (D-Massachusetts) spoke to Kenyon's graduating class. Coe is located in Iowa, the first early proving ground for White House candidates. Meanwhile, Kenyon is in Ohio -- ground zero for the 2004 presidential contest. Romney and Kerry are not the only potential 2008 candidates offering graduating advice to students this year. The two early frontrunners for the White House, Sen. John McCain (R-Arizona) and Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-New York), also recently appeared at a handful of colleges and universities. Except, Clinton only spoke to New York based institutions, while McCain split the ideological difference by delivering back-to-back speeches at Liberty University in Virginia and The New School in New York, among others.

    With so much activity this year, what should we expect next spring?

    "We are near the end of the 2006 graduation season and just the beginning of the 2008 presidential season, which leaves open a good deal of political education opportunity in 2007," said CNN's Candy Crowley.

    See you on campus.

    ***


    STEP DOWN: Sen. Joe Biden (D-Delaware), a potential 2008 presidential candidate, repeated his call Sunday for Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld to resign his post, saying there needs to be accountability for what is happening in Iraq such as the alleged intentional killings of Iraqi civilians in Haditha last November.

    "We can't get rid of the President, he's there for two-and-a-half more years," Biden, who serves as the senior Democrat on the Foreign Relations Committee, said on NBC's 'Meet the Press.' "There is a system of accountability ... when you make serious mistakes, you step forward and you acknowledge them and you walk away.

    "Presidents can't and shouldn't do that. Secretaries of Defense can and should."

    The military is conducting two investigations into the incident to determine if intentional killings did happen, and if so, was there a cover up.

    Rumsfeld has dismissed earlier calls for his resignation.
    Posted By Mark Preston, CNN Political Unit: 6/05/2006 10:37:00 AM ET | Permalink
    DAYAHEAD: Events making news today and through the weekend ...
  • Bush meets with the President of the Republic of the Congo at 9:05 a.m. ET, and then greets Chinese Leadership Program Fellows at 10:10 a.m. ET. He then meets with the President of Honduras at 11:05 a.m. ET. Bush meets with supporters of a constitutional amendment to ban same sex marriage and then, at 1:45 p.m. ET, makes a public statement expressing support for its passage. Press Secretary Tony Snow holds a gaggle at 10:15 a.m. ET and a news conference at 12:30 p.m. ET.

  • The Senate returns from its Memorial Day recess and begins debate at 2 p.m. ET on a constitutional amendment to ban same sex marriage. (The House returns Tuesday at 2 p.m. ET).

  • The Center for American Progress holds a 10 a.m. ET discussion titled "Is the Federal Marriage Amendment Consistent with Federalism and Democratic Values" at its D.C. office.

  • Sen. Wayne Allard (R-Colorado) and representatives from the Alliance for Marriage hold a 10:30 a.m. ET news conference on the Marriage Protection Amendment in the LBJ room of the Capitol.

  • The Human Rights Campaign will deliver postcards to senators today urging them to vote against the Federal Marriage Amendment.

  • Former President Bill Clinton delivers a 10:30 a.m. ET address at Princeton University's Class Day ceremony.

  • First Lady Laura Bush visits Our Lady of Perpetual Help School, which is receiving a "Laura Bush Foundation for America's Libraries" grant. She attends the Southeast, Washington, D.C., school at 11:55 a.m. ET.

  • House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-California) joins members of the Massachusetts Congressional delegation and Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta in Boston at the 11 a.m. ET dedication of a tunnel in honor of late House Speaker Thomas "Tip" O'Neill (D-Massachusetts).

  • Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-New York), who is considering a run for the White House in 2008, speaks at noon to the New York for Hillary Luncheon in New York City.

  • Vice President Cheney headlines a Republican National Committee fundraiser in Illinois that is expected to raise $300,000.

  • Former Sen. John Edwards (D-North Carolina), a potential 2008 presidential candidate, is in Israel through Wednesday.
  • Posted By Mark Preston, CNN Political Unit: 6/05/2006 10:32:00 AM ET | Permalink
    Political Hot Topics
    SEC RICE NOT WORRIED ABOUT IRAN OIL WARNING: Iran's supreme religious leader warned Sunday that oil shipments from the Persian Gulf would be disrupted if the United States made a "wrong move" toward his country over its nuclear program. But Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice dismissed the threat, saying the United States was awaiting a more formal response to last week's diplomatic initiatives in the matter. New York Times: Rice Dismisses Iranian Cleric's Warning on Oil

    FOCUSING ON THE GAY MARRIAGE AMENDMENT: President Bush and congressional Republicans are aiming the political spotlight this week on efforts to ban gay marriage, with events at both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue -- all for a constitutional amendment with scant chance of passage but wide appeal among social conservatives. "Ages of experience have taught us that the commitment of a husband and wife to love and to serve one another promotes the welfare of children and the stability of society," Bush said in his Saturday radio address. "Government, by recognizing and protecting marriage, serves the interests of all." Washington Post: Senate to Tackle Gay Marriage Ban

    BUSH AND THE PUSH FOR JUDICAL NOMINEES: While all eyes have been focused on the Senate's consideration of hot-ticket policy items such as immigration and lobbying reform, the Bush administration has quietly aimed its most aggressive campaign at unlocking dozens of executive nominations before election-year politics take hold for good. The lobbying effort has been kicked into high gear, sources said, because President Bush knows that his chances for confirming key nominees diminishes as the November election nears and cooperation between the parties slips. Roll Call: Bush Puts Focus on Nominees

    CA 50: TOO CLOSE TO CALL, CAUSING CONCERN WITH CONSERVATIVES: The California special election ... is a virtual dead heat just 48 hours before voters head to the polls, prompting alarm among Republicans who worry that a loss in a historically conservative district could presage a national trend against them in the fall. The contest is so tight in both public and private polling that campaign operatives from both parties are saying it is too close to call. National Republicans, alarmed by the prospect of a loss in such a closely watched race, have pumped millions of dollars into the contest, far outspending the Democrats. Washington Post: Election in California a Cliffhanger

    UTAH NATIONAL GUARD FIRST TO ARRIVE AT THE BORDER: Fifty-five National Guard members from Utah arrived in Yuma on Saturday afternoon as the first troops to be sent to the Arizona-Mexico border in a new plan to crack down on illegal immigration. The Utah troops, sent to assist the U.S. Border Patrol, were originally supposed to work on fences and other projects as part of the Guard's long-standing efforts at the Arizona border... But their mission has since been folded into President Bush's plan to send up to 6,000 National Guard troops to the four southern border states to help federal immigration agents. Yuma Sun: First guard members arrive at MCAS for border effort

    KENTUCKY GOVERNOR FINDS NEW RUNNING MATE: Gov. Ernie Fletcher tapped Finance Cabinet Secretary Robbie Rudolph yesterday as his running mate and made an impassioned pitch for re-election to state Republican leaders. Interrupting a Florida vacation, a fiery Fletcher jabbed his finger in the air as he cited his accomplishments ... "We will not let (Attorney General Greg) Stumbo and his minions run us out of town," Fletcher told members of the Republican State Central Committee at a meeting in Louisville. The audience included Lt. Gov. Steve Pence, who said last week he won't seek re-election on the slate with Fletcher next year. Courier-Journal: Kentucky Governor Taps New Running Mate

    JERRY BROWN'S LATEST GOAL: AG OF CA: In his nearly four decades in American politics, Jerry Brown has been a lot of things to a lot of people: a two-term California governor, a three-time presidential candidate and, most recently, the mayor of Oakland, this Rodney Dangerfield-like city across the bay from San Francisco. But now, Mr. Brown is trying to become something that no one who remembers the freewheeling days of "Governor Moonbeam" could possibly expect: a lawman. And not just any lawman. Mr. Brown -- faced with a mayoral term-limit -- is running for attorney general of California, the nation's most populous state and one where hot-button wedge issues like immigration, medical marijuana and same-sex marriage are constantly simmering for law enforcement officials and politicians alike. New York Times: This Time, Jerry Brown Wants to Be a Lawman

    IN IOWA ABORTION IS A BIG ISSUE FOR LOCAL CANDIDATES: Even in a room of sixth graders sitting cross-legged on the floor, usually the safest of venues for political candidates, the question emerged from one sweet face: What is your position on abortion? Mike Blouin, who is running for governor, has been asked that a lot lately. Questions about how to regulate or restrict abortion have long been issues in state races. But in campaigns for governor and the Legislature here in Iowa and in numerous other states, many candidates are being asked not only about limits on abortion, but also a far broader, starker question: to outlaw or not to outlaw? "The State of South Dakota made it an issue," Mr. Blouin said. New York Times: In State Races, Tough Questions About Abortion

    HARRIS STILL HAS CONSERVATIVES CONCERNED: The woman who oversaw the 2000 presidential vote recount in Florida is running for the GOP Senate nomination -- inspiring dread among many in her party. Whether they measure by fundraising, polls, disarray, ethics, strange behavior or potential to polarize, they see trouble. Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson, seeking a second term, is polling twice as high as Harris. Gov. Jeb Bush, saying Harris could not win, staged a search for an alternative. To no avail. The Sept. 5 primary will pit three little-known latecomers against the high-profile Harris. The gravest threat to her candidacy, and to the Republican ticket if she tops it, is her link to corrupt defense contractor Mitchell Wade. Wade, former CEO of MZM Inc., has pleaded guilty to four criminal charges and said he tried to influence Harris. USA Today: Harris' Senate run worries many in her party

    FAST GROWING LOBBYING GROUP: INDIAN-AMERICANS: Indian-Americans have mounted an intensive drive to support President Bush's plan to aid India's civilian nuclear program, spending heavily on lobbying, campaign contributions and public relations to persuade Congress to approve the deal... Indian-Americans, a small but fast-growing, affluent and well-educated group ... have invested heavily in proven political tools that have helped previous immigrant groups break into American politics -- hiring lobbyists, organizing fund-raisers and blanketing Capitol Hill with briefings, phone calls and petitions. New York Times: Indian-Americans Test Their Clout on Atom Pact

    REP. KENNEDY GETS BACK TO WORK: Rep. Patrick Kennedy has ended nearly a month of treatment for addiction to prescription pain drugs and had an appearance scheduled Monday in his home state of Rhode Island. Kennedy left the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., on Friday. "The congressman was discharged after completing his treatment at the Mayo Clinic," said Kennedy chief of staff Sean Richardson. "He's feeling great and he's looking forward to getting back to work." Boston Herald: Kennedy Ends Drug Rehab, Returns to Rhode Island

    CASTING CALL ON THE HILL: The reality show being planned by Oxygen that Roll Call previously wrote about will be called "Capitol Hill Girls." The "common goal" of the series, which will bring together three Republicans and three Democrats (two of each have been chosen), is still a mystery, but the show is starting to get some notice. "Capitol Hill Girls" a "half-hour reality docu-soap that follows a group of female Republicans and Democrats on Capitol Hill as they come together to promote a bipartisan cause." Roll Call: A Star May Be Born. If you've always dreamed of being a reality TV star, now's your big chance, ladies!
    Posted By Xuan Thai, CNN Washington Bureau: 6/05/2006 10:01:00 AM ET | Permalink
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