Friday, August 18, 2006
The Cafferty File: Sanctuary for illegals?
On "The Situation Room" today, we asked viewers the following questions, and here are some of our favorite responses that we didn't get to read on air:

Should churches be sanctuaries for illegal immigrants?

Churches are not above the law. Any organization that seeks to influence legislation is supposed to lose their 'tax exempt' status. Another law unenforced.
R.A., La Porte, Texas

Let illegal immigrants stay in the churches... That's what Christianity is all about: caring for the downtrodden.
Neal, Stuart, Florida

This is a pile of bull. If it was a mosque that these illegals were hiding in do you honestly think, Jack, that the U.S. would not go in and get them. Why is it every time the Church gets involved, National Security common sense gets thrown out the window?
M.

That is the best idea, I've heard! Let the churches feed, clothe and house them.
Bob, Lady Lake, Florida

What does it mean if the Republicans are losing the votes of "security moms"?

The security moms are having second thoughts that they may in the near future have to sacrifice their sons for this mess in Iraq.
Tilly, Peoria, Illinois

It means that a number of these "suburban" Republican incumbents are "toast." And a bunch of others should be shaking in their shoes if they have any sense, a point that is debatable.
Diane, Houston, Texas

It means that the Republicans have used their "fear tactics" ad nauseum. We are no more secure today than we were in 2001. We are just paying a lot more people to do the job!
Lynne, Palatka, Florida

If there's an October surprise, what do you think it will be?

If one has paid attention to the news, the answer would be obvious. Osama will be caught, alive, much in the same way Saddam was. How do I know this? It's the reason the CIA ended the search for Osama weeks ago.
Eric, Bainbridge Island, Washington

The October surprise: One day in early October the next day's headlines will be "Bush calls for bunker-buster bombing of Iran's nuclear facilities." All-out war soon follows and the elections in the U.S. are postponed indefinitely so that Republicans remain in the majority saving Bush and Cheney from the threat of impeachment.
Doris, Wilmington, North Carolina

I think the Administration has something so clever and so devious up their sleeves for October that only Karl Rove could orchestrate it: a week or two before the election, they will respond quickly and competently to a crisis.
Steve, Montgomery, Alabama
Posted By Jack Cafferty, CNN Commentator: 8/18/2006 05:42:00 PM ET | Permalink
Lieberman continues staff shake-up, hires Republican pollster
From CNN Political Research Director Robert Yoon

Sen. Joe Lieberman (D-Connecticut) continued to shake up his re-election campaign Friday by hiring new political consultants, including a prominent Republican pollster. It is his second major re-shuffling of campaign staff since losing the Democratic primary to businessman Ned Lamont on August 8.

Lieberman has tapped Neil Newhouse of the Republican firm Public Opinion Strategies to serve as campaign pollster. The POS firm has served a long list of prominent Republican clients over the years, including Govs. Jeb Bush of Florida and Robert Ehrlich of Maryland, and Sens. Saxby Chambliss of Georgia, Norm Coleman of Minnesota, Pete Domenici of New Mexico, Chuck Hagel of Nebraska, and Pat Roberts of Kansas, to name a few. Newhouse also serves as a top advisor to Connecticut's Republican Gov. Jodi Rell. The firm also partners with Democratic firms to produce non-partisan polling for NBC/Wall Street Journal and National Public Radio.

The campaign also tapped Democratic strategist Josh Isay to serve as media consultant. Isay has previously worked for both New York City's Republican Mayor Michael Bloomberg as well as the state's Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer.

"They are not just among the best in their respective businesses, but they bring a deep knowledge of Connecticut from across the political spectrum, which will be essential to our effort to build a broad coalition of Democrats, Republicans, and independents," said Lieberman of his two new hires in a written statement.
Posted By CNN's Washington Bureau: 8/18/2006 05:14:00 PM ET | Permalink
Bloomberg asks Democrats to choose New York in '08
From The Morning Grind

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg entered a political hornets' nest Thursday night to pitch Democrats on the idea of holding the party's 2008 presidential convention in the Big Apple.

The one-time Democrat emerged with few stings and the endorsement of Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich (D).

"We ought to have the Democratic convention in New York," Blagojevich told members of the Democratic National Committee at a cocktail reception hosted by Bloomberg in Millennium Park.

It was the first of three events that will be held by the three cities competing for the convention, as Democrats gather in the Windy City to discuss political strategy and plan the 2008 nominating calendar. Tonight, Minneapolis-St. Paul is hosting a similar event and Denver holds a breakfast Saturday morning. The DNC is expected to make a decision before the year is out.

Last night it was all about "Big Apple" martinis, Frank Sinatra's "New York, New York" blaring over the loud speakers and a personal appeal by Bloomberg to Democrats asking them to formally choose their 2008 presidential nominee in his city.

"We won't pick your candidate, but with the energy of our city we will make your candidate better," Bloomberg vowed. "We won't craft your message but with New York as a backdrop we will make your message better. We will get the job done."

Without hesitation, the mayor jokingly acknowledged he no longer has deep roots in the Democratic Party.

"I haven’t been in the company of such a large group of passionate dedicated Democrats since I was one," he said to an eruption of laughter and a few boos.

But what Bloomberg lacks in party identification he sought to make up in personal endorsements by two well-known Democrats -- Blagojevich and actress Lorraine Bracco -- to demonstrate that he still maintains ties to the party.

Bracco, a key character in the HBO mafia drama "The Sopranos", sung Bloomberg's praises, while at the same time declaring that it was time to elect a Democrat as president. In addition to backing New York's bid for the convention, Blagojevich, too, heaped praise on the New York City mayor.

Bloomberg, who is a moderate on social issues, demonstrated his own independence from the Republican Party Thursday night by endorsing Blagojevich for a second term over his Republican challenger Judy Baar Topinka.

"He has been a great governor of a great state," Bloomberg said as he introduced Blagojevich. "If I lived in Illinois I would vote for him to be governor."

That was enough for Judith Turk, a DNC member from Illinois, to support New York's bid to host the 2008 convention.

"The governor wants it there, our mayor wants it there and I am all for it," she said.

But not all Democrats think it is a good idea to go to New York in 2008. Montana Democratic Party Chairman Dennis McDonald said the future of his party is in the "Mid-West and in our rural communities," and he suggested Denver would be the appropriate city to hold the convention in 2008.

"We need all the West and the notion that the Democratic Party can be successful winning a few states on each of our coasts is irrational," McDonald said.
Posted By Mark Preston, CNN Political Unit: 8/18/2006 10:57:00 AM ET | Permalink
Meanwhile Democrats prepare for the big vote
From The Morning Grind

The DNC will vote Saturday on the much-debated, long-awaited proposal to add Nevada and South Carolina to the early part of the nominating calendar. The idea is to bring more diversity into the selection proposal beyond the traditional first proving grounds of Iowa and New Hampshire. New Hampshire opposes the plan, because it violates state law that requires a week window on each side of its primary. The proposal is expected to pass, but New Hampshire Secretary of State William Gardner has vowed to enforce his state law. Stay tuned, this fight is far from over.
Posted By Mark Preston, CNN Political Unit: 8/18/2006 10:56:00 AM ET | Permalink
RNC knocks Democrats with new web ad on terror
From The Morning Grind

The Republican National Committee releases a new web ad today that charges the Democratic Party is soft on terror. The ad "A Safer America" can be viewed at www.gop.com.
Posted By Mark Preston, CNN Political Unit: 8/18/2006 10:55:00 AM ET | Permalink
Bush huddles with his economic team
From The Morning Grind

President Bush meets with his senior economic advisors this morning at Camp David to talk about the budget, entitlement spending and "pro-growth tax policy," a White House spokesperson said. Bush and the advisors will then participate in a media availability at 11:15 a.m. ET.
Posted By Mark Preston, CNN Political Unit: 8/18/2006 10:55:00 AM ET | Permalink
Political Hot Topics
"DESTROYED OR WITHHELD EVIDENCE" IN HADITHA PROBE: A high-level military investigation into the killings of 24 Iraqis in Haditha last November has uncovered instances in which American marines involved in the episode appear to have destroyed or withheld evidence, according to two Defense Department officials briefed on the case. The investigation found that an official company logbook of the unit involved had been tampered with and that an incriminating video taken by an aerial drone the day of the killings was not given to investigators until Lt. Gen. Peter W. Chiarelli, the second-ranking commander in Iraq, intervened, the officials said. Those findings, contained in a long report that was completed last month but not made public, go beyond what has been previously reported about the case. New York Times: Inquiry Suggests Marines Excised Files on Killings

"SECURITY MOMS" NOW SUPPORTING DEMS: Married women with children, the "security moms" whose concerns about terrorism made them an essential part of Republican victories in 2002 and 2004, are taking flight from GOP politicians this year in ways that appear likely to provide a major boost for Democrats in the midterm elections, according to polls and interviews. This critical group of swing voters -- who are an especially significant factor in many of the most competitive suburban districts on which control of Congress will hinge -- is more inclined to vote Democratic than at any point since Sept. 11, 2001, according to data compiled for The Washington Post by the Pew Research Center... The study, which examined the views of married women with children from April through this week, found that they support Democrats for Congress by a 12-point margin, 50 percent to 38 percent. That is nearly a mirror-image reversal from a similar period in 2002, when this group backed Republicans 53 percent to 36 percent. Washington Post: Republicans Losing The 'Security Moms'

DETROIT JUDGE ORDERS HALT TO WIRETAPS; CALLS PROGRAM UNCONSTITUTIONAL: A federal judge in Detroit ruled yesterday that the National Security Agency's warrantless surveillance program is unconstitutional, delivering the first decision that the Bush administration's effort to monitor communications without court oversight runs afoul of the Bill of Rights and federal law. U.S. District Judge Anna Diggs Taylor ordered a halt to the wiretap program, secretly authorized by President Bush in 2001, but both sides in the lawsuit agreed to delay that action until a Sept. 7 hearing. Legal scholars said Taylor's decision is likely to receive heavy scrutiny from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit when the Justice Department appeals, and some criticized her ruling as poorly reasoned. Washington Post: Judge Rules Against Wiretaps

BUSH SIGNS "BROAD OVERHAUL" OF PENSION RULES: President Bush signed a broad overhaul of pension and savings rules Thursday, giving millions of people a better chance of getting the retirement benefits they have earned. The law, passed with fanfare by Congress two weeks ago, gives companies seven years to shore up funding of their traditional pensions, also known as defined benefit plans. Special rules for seriously underfunded companies require them to catch up faster. The 30,000 such plans run by employers are estimated to be underfunded by $450 billion. "Americans who spent a lifetime working hard should be confident that their pensions will be there when they retire," Bush said. AP via Yahoo! News: Bush signs sweeping pension bill reform

FBI'S $170 MILLION LEMON: It was late 2003, and a contractor, Science Applications International Corp. (SAIC), had spent months writing 730,000 lines of computer code for the Virtual Case File (VCF), a networked system for tracking criminal cases that was designed to replace the bureau's antiquated paper files and, finally, shove J. Edgar Hoover's FBI into the 21st century... It appeared to work beautifully. Until Azmi, now the FBI's technology chief, asked about the error rate. Software problem reports, or SPRs, numbered in the hundreds, Azmi recalled in an interview. The problems were multiplying as engineers continued to run tests. Scores of basic functions had yet to be analyzed. "A month before delivery, you don't have SPRs," Azmi said. "You're making things pretty... You're changing colors." Within a few days, Azmi said, he warned FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III that the $170 million system was in serious trouble. A year later, it was dead. Washington Post: The FBI's Upgrade That Wasn't

DEMS TO FINALIZE PRIMARY CALENDAR: Democrats are laying aside the debate over issues and philosophy and turning to something more prosaic - rejiggering the political calendar - as a way to boost the party's White House prospects in 2008. Barring a last-minute shift, Democratic leaders meeting here are expected to add Nevada and South Carolina to the states that hold early primaries, alongside perennials Iowa and New Hampshire. The move is the main business at the Democratic National Committee's summer meeting, which opened Thursday in Chicago. It would be the most significant change in the presidential nominating process in years, and hasten the front-loading that has already transformed the contest from a months-long slog into a sprint lasting just a few weeks. Los Angeles Times: Democrats May Make January Presidential Primary Month

GOP PICKS HOUSTON CITY COUNCILWOMAN TO RUN IN TX-22: Republican Party precinct chairs endorsed Houston City Councilwoman Shelley Sekula-Gibbs on Thursday night as the write-in candidate for the congressional district vacated by Tom DeLay. "Hopefully now we will have some clarity as to who our one candidate will be," said state GOP chair Tina Benkiser, who called the meeting. "Certainly if we have one Republican candidate on the ballot we'll get behind and start making the calls and walking the precincts and licking the envelopes and running a hard grass-roots campaign." The precinct chairs, who met behind closed doors, chose Sekula-Gibbs over a handful of opponents, including Sugar Land Mayor David Wallace and former state Republican Party executive committee member Tim Turner. Houston Chronicle: Sekula-Gibbs picked as write-in candidate

8 FILE TO RUN IN "RAPID-FIRE RACE" TO REPLACE NEY: State Sen. Joy Padgett could have plenty of competition in the rapid-fire race to replace Rep. Bob Ney as the Republican candidate for an eastern Ohio congressional district. Padgett, who announced her candidacy as Ney quit the race amid scandal and sagging poll numbers, was one of eight people to file petitions yesterday for the Sept. 14 special election. Two others currently serve as elected officials: Dover Mayor Richard P. Homrighausen and Holmes County Commissioner Ray L. Feikert. The eight filed petitions by the 4 p.m. deadline with the board of elections in Tuscarawas County, the most populous county in the district. The board will tally valid signatures today; any candidate with at least 50 qualifies for the ballot. Columbus Dispatch: 8 file to run for Ney's seat

EDWARDS BECOMES "FIRST PRESIDENTIAL HOPEFUL TO CAMPAIGN FOR" LAMONT: John Edwards, the 2004 Democratic vice-presidential candidate, rallied supporters of Ned Lamont, the party's Senate nominee from Connecticut, on Thursday, saying Democrats needed to fight Republican "fearmongering" to regain control in Washington. Mr. Edwards, who is considering a bid for the White House in 2008, became the first presidential hopeful to campaign for Mr. Lamont, who defeated Senator Joseph I. Lieberman last week in the Democratic primary here. Mr. Edwards, a former senator from North Carolina, said Mr. Lieberman should be "honoring the decision" of Connecticut voters by bowing out of the race. New York Times: Edwards, at Lamont Rally, Says Democrats Must Beat G.O.P. 'Fearmongering'

BROWNBACK TO DECIDE ON '08 BY THE END OF '06: U.S. Sen. Sam Brownback joined the parade of prospective 2008 presidential candidates at the Iowa State Fair this week, saying he would make a decision about his White House plans before the end of the year. Brownback, a Kansas Republican, said Thursday that he will decide to run if his message fits with what he sees as the political mood of the country... Unlike a handful of other Republicans, Brownback has not put staff on the ground in Iowa. Brownback has been to Iowa several times since the 2004 election. He is among four Republican presidential prospects who have made plans to visit the Iowa State Fair this week. Des Moines Register: Brownback will decide on '08 run this year

FIGHT BREAKS OUT BETWEEN CAMPAIGNS IN MD'S 4TH: What was supposed to be a war of words ended in a scuffle between supporters of Rep. Albert Wynn and his challenger, Donna Edwards, Wednesday evening. Video taken by a worker for Edwards' congressional campaign showed the aftermath of the incident at a candidates' forum at Prince George's Community College. The tape shows a gash on the forehead of a volunteer for the Edwards campaign, News4 reported. "It was getting to turn into a riot real quick, because more people, as we pulled them apart, more and more of the two sides were going," said George McDermott, who is also a candidate for the 4th Congressional District seat. Three men were taken into custody by members of the college police force. A representative from the school said that one person was cited for disorderly conduct. The skirmish reportedly involved placement of campaign signs outside the building where the forum took place, News4 reported. NBC4: Fight Breaks Out Outside Candidate Forum

HUDSON APOLOGIZES FOR BLACK SWIMMERS REMARK: A video clip in which Republican Tramm Hudson makes negative comments about the swimming abilities of black people spread across the Internet on Thursday, drawing an apology from his campaign and a mix of reactions from challengers and local black leaders. The 27-second clip, first posted on the conservative Web site redstate.com, shows a portion of a speech the 13th District congressional candidate gave at a Christian Coalition forum in February. In the segment, Hudson, a former Army commander, recalls leading his infantry company across a river during a training exercise. "A large number were black," Hudson said. "I grew up in Alabama. I understand, uh, I know from experience, that blacks are not the greatest swimmers or may not even know how to swim." Sarasota Herald-Tribune: Hudson's comments ignite fire on Net

SCHWARZENEGGER ACCUSED OF FLIP-FLOPPING: Schwarzenegger's new strategy [efforts to recast himself as a political moderate in order to curry favor among Democrats and independent voters], which has boosted him in the polls, has also attracted criticism from both ends of the political spectrum that the governor has reversed position on key issues -- like education spending, the environment, health care reform and immigration -- for political advantage. A close review, however, shows the governor's record is far more mixed: some positions have clearly changed, others have merely evolved, and some have remained consistent but the rhetoric surrounding the subject has changed. Still, even the perception that a candidate has flip-flopped on issues is a big danger and something Schwarzenegger will be looking to quell this weekend among party loyalists and later as he tries to appeal to Democrats and independents. San Francisco Chronicle: 'Moderate' governor irks some in GOP

ALSO... Los Angeles Times: Schwarzenegger Hears Rumbles From the Right
Posted By Stephen Bach, CNN Washington Bureau: 8/18/2006 09:38:00 AM ET | Permalink
Thursday, August 17, 2006
The Cafferty File: Democrats for hire?
On "The Situation Room" today, we asked viewers the following questions, and here are some of our favorite responses that we didn't get to read on air:

What does it mean if lobbyists are hiring more Democrats?

Jack, Lobbyists hiring more Democrats simply means that we have the best government money can buy. Regardless of which party controls Congress, it works for K Street, not we the people.
John, Helena, Montana

It means that partisan political ideology is ultimately bunk when power and influence are at stake.
Susan, Katonah, New York

Jack it means that they know Democrats can be bought just as fast as Republicans.
Ron, Denver, Ohio

It means the lobbyists are preparing for the thorough "house cleaning" that's going to take place this fall.
Woody, Wapakoneta, Ohio

What does a federal judge's ruling that the NSA spying program is illegal mean for President Bush?

Nothing. He's broken laws before and nothing has been done. This will be no different. Authoritarianism, my friend.
Brian, Winfield, Alabama

It means that once again the President must deal with these liberal judges... President Bush is simply trying to protect the American people. Give him a break Cafferty!
Eric, Arlington, Texas

It says Bush is a crook on two counts now: warrantless wiretapping and prisoner abuse.
Jim, Grants Pass, Oregon

The question should be: what does it mean to the Republican-controlled U.S. House of Representatives since they are the ones that would prosecute any illegal activities committed by a sitting president.
Tony, New Jersey

All of you people who are trying to take away the tools our government needs to catch terrorists, will be the first to say that the President didn't do enough to connect the dots if we have another attack in this country. You can't have it both ways.
Joann, Pennsylvania

It means he's more appealing than ever.
Bill, Leesburg, Florida

Do we need a new definition of what constitutes success in Iraq?

Maybe getting the lights back on or going to the gas station and not having to wait 12 hours for gas or getting killed while doing errands.
Sheila, Crossville, Tennessee

Good question. I think it is time we leave the question of success to the commanders on the ground and give them everything they need to do the job our government has asked them to do. I say just get it done, stabilize it, and get out. I don't believe leaving now would be good for anyone. Just support them fully.
Glenn, Cincinnati, Ohio

It should be abundantly clear to all of us that as long as the war is run by the gang of incompetents in the White House and Pentagon (full of cronies and loyalists but utterly incompetent nevertheless) we need to constantly lower the bar to define what success is for them.
Mitch, Schenectady, New York
Posted By Jack Cafferty, CNN Commentator: 8/17/2006 05:47:00 PM ET | Permalink
Justice Dept. to appeal NSA surveillance ruling
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The Justice Department says it will appeal a Thursday ruling that the National Security Agency's warrantless domestic surveillance program is unconstitional.

The White House also issued a statement, saying it "couldn't disagree more with this ruling.

"United States intelligence officials have confirmed that the program has helped stop terrorist attacks and saved American lives," read the statement from the White House press secretary. "The Terrorist Surveillance Program is firmly grounded in law and regularly reviewed to make sure steps are taken to protect civil liberties."
Posted By CNN's Washington Bureau: 8/17/2006 03:14:00 PM ET | Permalink
Ruling imminent in longrunning tobacco lawsuit
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The tobacco industry Thursday will learn whether it must further limit advertising and possibly take corrective measures in response to a lawsuit from the U.S. government and public health groups.

The case, dating back to 1999, may determine whether the government can force the tobacco industry to limit advertising and marketing of tobacco products and force the industry to fund programs to help smokers kick the habit.

U.S. District Court judge Gladys Kessler will issue her ruling at 4:30 p.m. EDT in Washington.

In addition to injunctive relief -- which may compel or constrain tobacco companies' practices -- a monetary judment may be handed down, a plaintiff's lawyer said.

The tobacco industry is on the record as denying wrongdoing, especially in light of their retooled marketing strategies.
Posted By Paul Courson, CNN Washington Bureau: 8/17/2006 02:40:00 PM ET | Permalink
NATO commander: Taliban 'more dominant' than al Qaeda


NATO forces repeatedly have engaged Taliban fighters since taking over from U.S. forces in southern Afghanistan a few weeks ago.

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- NATO's supreme allied commander, now leading troops in volatile southern Afghanistan, on Thursday called the Taliban "more dominant by far" than al Qaeda in the war-torn nation.

U.S. Gen. James L. Jones, the head of the U.S. European Command in addition to his NATO post, told reporters at the Pentagon that the terror network remains a "factor." But he said that militants from the Taliban -- the Islamic movement that ruled Afghanistan before being toppled following the September 11, 2001, attacks -- are more potent and "very intelligent."

NATO troops, most of whom are British and Canadian, officially took over from U.S. forces in southern Afghanistan several weeks ago. Fighting has flared up since in the Helmand, Uruzgan and Kandahar provinces, with eight militants killed by coalition forces Wednesday in Paktika province.

"Certainly the opposition is testing NATO to see if we, in fact, do have the will and the capability to stand and fight," Jones said. "And I think the evidence is, so far, that the answer is overwhelmingly yes."

In recent months, Taliban militants have re-emerged, cranking up their attacks against coalition, Afghan government and civilian targets. Jones cited fighters' ability to move "back-and-forth" between Afghanistan and Pakistan as a "main source of concern," adding that NATO plans to work with Pakistani officials to address that issue.

Rampant drug growing and trafficking in Afghanistan is another NATO priority, Jones added, especially as militants "are getting money" from the narcotics trade.
Posted By CNN's Washington Bureau: 8/17/2006 01:22:00 PM ET | Permalink
Federal judge: Warrantless wiretapping unconstitutional
(CNN) -- In a defeat for the Bush administration, a federal court Thursday ruled the National Security Agency's warrantless wiretapping program is unconstitutional and ordered it ended immediately.

In a 44-page memorandum and order, U.S. District Judge Anna Diggs Taylor struck down the Terrorist Surveillance Program, or TSP, which she said violates "the Separation of Powers doctrine, the Administrative Procedures Act, the First and Fourth Amendments to the United States Constitution, the FISA and Title III." (Full story)

"The President of the United States... has undisputedly violated the Fourth [Amendment] in failing to procure judicial orders," she wrote.

The complaint was filed in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan, where Taylor, 75, presides. Nominated by President Carter in 1979, Taylor is one of the first African-American women to sit on a federal court.

Last month, Arlen Specter, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said the White House agreed to submit the TSP to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) court for review.
Posted By CNN's Washington Bureau: 8/17/2006 12:44:00 PM ET | Permalink
Lieberman's primary loss does not necessarily mean defeat


Ned Lamont, left, trails Sen. Joe Lieberman (D-Connecticut), right, 53-41 among likely voters in a new poll.

From The Morning Grind

Despite losing the Democratic primary earlier this month, Sen. Joe Lieberman (D) holds double-digit leads over his two November opponents, a new Quinnipiac University poll released this morning shows.

Lieberman gets support from 53 percent of likely voters, while Democratic nominee Ned Lamont receives 41 percent and embattled GOP nominee Alan Schlesinger registers only 4 percent.

Lieberman has launched an independent bid for re-election after losing to Lamont in a race that was largely about the incumbent's support for the Iraq war. Lieberman has come under fire for his continued support of the Iraq war, an issue Lamont was able to seize on and ride to victory in the Democratic primary.

But the Quinnipiac poll shows that Lieberman's political appeal extends far beyond the Democratic base, support that he will need to win a fourth term.

"Sen. Lieberman's support among Republicans is nothing short of amazing," Quinnipiac Poll Director Douglas Schwartz said in a statement accompanying the release of the poll. "It more than offsets what he has lost among Democrats. As long as Lieberman maintains this kind of support among Republicans, while holding onto a significant number of Democratic voters, the veteran senator will be hard to beat."

Several of Lieberman's Democratic colleagues, though, are trying to do just that. Sen. John Kerry (D-Massachusetts) sent out an e-mail to his financial supporters Wednesday asking them to donate to Lamont's campaign. Today, former Sen. John Edwards (D-North Carolina) heads to New Haven, Connecticut to attend a campaign rally for Lamont. Other Democrats such as Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (New York) have cut checks to Lamont. As for Schlesinger, he has been unable to attract support from Republican Gov. Jodi Rell or the White House.
Posted By Mark Preston, CNN Political Unit: 8/17/2006 10:33:00 AM ET | Permalink
Clinton's on the air
From The Morning Grind

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton is headed to an easy re-election in November, but the New York Democrat has decided to purchase air time for a 60 second commercial running on upstate and suburban cable television stations. Clinton, who is eyeing a potential presidential bid, relies on constituents to sing her praises for her work on issues ranging from trying to help revive the economy in the upstate to her successful effort on behalf of a family to receive life saving treatment for their son.

"New Yorkers took a chance on me in 2000, and I have worked hard every single day to deserve that chance," Clinton says in the ad. It can be viewed at www.hillaryclinton.com
Posted By Mark Preston, CNN Political Unit: 8/17/2006 10:32:00 AM ET | Permalink
Photo-op of the day
From The Morning Grind

Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani (R) heads to Santa Monica today and stands with California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) to urge California voters to support Proposition 83 -- Jessica's Law.
Posted By Mark Preston, CNN Political Unit: 8/17/2006 10:31:00 AM ET | Permalink
The human cost of war
From The Morning Grind

The Lebanese death toll surpassed 1,000 as Israel slowly relinquished its power of territories in Lebanon after Monday's U.N.-sanctioned cease-fire, the Lebanese Internal Security Forces said Thursday.

More than 4,000 Lebanese have been wounded in the fighting between Israeli forces and Hezbollah that began July 12.

The Israeli death toll stood at 159, including 41 civilians killed in Hezbollah rocket attacks on northern Israel Wednesday, according to the Israel Defense Forces. The IDF reports more than 1,000 wounded, including 600 civilians.

IDF said about 4,000 Hezbollah rockets have hit northern Israel since July 12. Of those, more than 900 have hit populated areas, including the worst-hit cities of Kiryat Shmona and Nahariya. IDF said 242 rockets hit Kiryat Shmona, and 180 hit Nahariya.
Posted By Mark Preston, CNN Political Unit: 8/17/2006 10:30:00 AM ET | Permalink
Political Hot Topics
TERROR PLOT EXPOSES "DRAMATICALLY FLAWED" TSA SCREENING SYSTEM: The fact that screening systems at U.S. airports cannot quickly detect liquid explosives has prompted some lawmakers and critics to ask why such technology is still not available when the threat was identified more than 10 years ago. Other legislators are questioning the Department of Homeland Security's plans to shift resources toward hiring more personnel and the current limit of 45,000 federal transportation security screeners. "Our first mistake was when we opted for an army of personnel and not for technology," said Rep. John L. Mica (R-Fla.), chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure subcommittee on aviation, who is surveying the use of new technologies at 14 U.S. airports during the recess. "We unfortunately have a highly labor-intensive passenger-screening system that is dramatically flawed." Los Angeles Times: Critics Say TSA Must Catch Up With Technology

"KINDLER, GENTLER APPROACH" TO ATTACKING DEMS ON THE WAR: President Bush on Wednesday picked up his party's attack against Democrats for having what the Republicans have called the wrong approach to the fight against terrorism. But his was a kinder, gentler approach than the one used by Vice President Dick Cheney and others in recent days. Referring to the war in Iraq, Mr. Bush said: "There's some good people in our country who believe we should cut and run. They're not bad people when they say that, they're decent people." But he added, "I just happen to believe they're wrong, and they're wrong for this reason: this would be a defeat for the United States in a key battleground in the global war on terror." New York Times: President Joins in G.O.P. Attacks on Democrats About Terrorism

SWANN GETS A $700K BOOST FROM BUSH: Bush's appearance on behalf of Swann -- the former wide receiver for the Pittsburgh Steelers making his first run at public office -- raised $700,000 for the GOP nominee, Swann spokesman Leonard Alcivar said. The influx of cash comes at a welcome time for Swann as the Republican trails Rendell by 20 percentage points, according to a poll released by Quinnipiac University. The Connecticut school this month polled about 1,400 voters, who favored Rendell over Swann by a margin of 54 percent to 34 percent. Swann supporters at the Host said the numbers will turn more favorably toward the Republican when television and radio advertisements appear after Labor Day. Lancaster Intelligencer Journal: Bush signs Swann's song -- President says U.S. must stay in Iraq

THAT "D" SUDDENLY LOOKS GOOD ON YOUR RESUME! Washington lobbying firms, trade associations and corporate offices are moving to hire more well-connected Democrats in response to rising prospects that the opposition party will wrest control of at least one chamber of Congress from Republicans in the November elections. In what lobbyists are calling a harbinger of possible upheaval on Capitol Hill, many who make a living influencing government have gone from mostly shunning Democrats to aggressively recruiting them as lobbyists over the past six months or so. "We've seen a noticeable shift," said Beth Solomon, director of the Washington office of Christian & Timbers, an executive search firm that helps to place senior lobbyists and trade association heads. Washington Post: Democrats' Stock Is Rising on K Street

DEMS GROUPS/'08 CANDIDATES "POURING RESOURCES" INTO SEC OF STATE RACES: The political battle for control of the federal government has opened up a new front: the obscure but vital state offices that determine who votes and how those votes are counted. The state post of secretary of State was a backwater until 2000, when Florida's Katherine Harris became a central figure in the presidential recount controversy. Now national Democratic groups and White House prospects, unhappy about Harris' decisions and those of Republican Kenneth Blackwell in Ohio two years ago, are pouring resources into contests for the job. At least three Democratic political action committees are spotlighting secretary of State candidates, most of them in states where they expect the presidential vote to be close. Colorado, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada and Ohio top their lists. Secretaries of State control most voting regulations and influence state purchases of voting machines. Looking ahead to 2008, Democrats say they want people they trust in those offices. USA Today: Top vote counter becomes prize job

GOP TRYING TO AVOID STATEHOUSE "TSUNAMI": Republicans will play defense in this fall's state legislative races to avoid a "tsunami" that could alter the political landscape in statehouses around the country, the head of the GOP's legislative campaign committee said Wednesday. Democrats, who currently hold a 21-seat advantage among the country's 7,382 state legislative seats, are hoping the national mood and historical trends contribute to legislative gains. "Some years you play offense, and some years you play defense," said Alex Johnson, executive director of the Republican Legislative Campaign Committee. "And this is a year when we play a bit of defense and hope to steal a few." AP via Yahoo! News: GOP plays defense in statehouse races

DSCC/NRSC WANT RECOUNT RULES FOR NOVEMBER: In a rare show of bipartisan unity, and with an eye on what may be a very close race in Pennsylvania this November, the Senate Democratic and Republican campaign committees are asking the Federal Election Commission to clarify the rules covering recounts. The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and the National Republican Senatorial Committee filed an Aug. 7 request for an advisory opinion from the FEC, in which they asked the commission to determine from whom they can raise money, and how much, to pay for any recounts that may occur this year. The two committees also want the FEC to determine whether they can use soft money from wealthy individuals, corporations and labor unions to cover litigation costs or any other expenditures arising from a recount. Soft-money donations are banned in federal elections, although they are permitted in a number of states. Roll Call: NRSC, DSCC File Joint FEC Inquiry on Recounts

HISPANICS SAY DSCC AD UNFAIRLY EQUATES ILLEGAL ALIENS TO TERRORISTS: The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) yesterday pulled an ad from its Web site after Hispanic groups accused Democrats of unfairly equating illegal aliens to terrorists. "To liken Latino immigrants to bazooka-toting terrorists not only undermines the positive relationship our party has with this community, but it also lowers us to a despicable level as breeders of unfounded fear and hatred," Houston City Council member Carol Alvarado, a Democrat, said in a letter to Sen. Charles E. Schumer, the New York Democrat who heads the DSCC. The 35-second ad, released on its Web site earlier this week, criticizes the Bush administration as leaving America unsecured by showing illegal aliens scaling a border fence. That scene is mixed with images of Osama bin Laden and North Korean President Kim Jong-il. While the DSCC did not publicly apologize for the ad, it had been removed from the site by last night and replaced with another. All links to the ad that had worked throughout the day also went dead. Washington Times: Hispanics scold Democrats for ad mixing illegals, terrorists

BIG-NAME DEMS TAKING ON WAL-MART: Senator Joseph R. Biden Jr. of Delaware, a likely Democratic presidential candidate in 2008, delivered a 15-minute, blistering attack to warm applause from Democrats and union organizers [in Des Moines, Iowa] on Wednesday. But Mr. Biden's main target was not Republicans in Washington, or even his prospective presidential rivals. It was Wal-Mart, the nation's largest private employer. Among Democrats, Mr. Biden is not alone. Across Iowa this week and across much of the country this month, Democratic leaders have found a new rallying cry that many of them say could prove powerful in the midterm elections and into 2008: denouncing Wal-Mart for what they say are substandard wages and health care benefits. Six Democratic presidential contenders have appeared at rallies like the one Mr. Biden headlined, along with some Democratic candidates for Congress in some of the toughest-fought races in the country. New York Times: Eye on Election, Democrats Run as Wal-Mart Foe

LAMONT MAKES GAINS, BUT LIEBERMAN LEADS 49-38 IN NEW CT SEN POLL: Ned Lamont, whose anti-war campaign rattled the political landscape by toppling Sen. Joe Lieberman last week in Connecticut's Democratic primary, is gaining support in November's three-way Senate race, according to a poll released Thursday. But the Quinnipiac University poll shows that Lamont still has an uphill battle against Lieberman, the 2000 nominee for vice president who is now running an independent campaign. Lieberman leads Lamont among registered voters 49 percent to 38 percent. Republican Alan Schlesinger gets support from 4 percent. That's an improvement for Lamont, who trailed Lieberman 51 percent to 27 percent in a three-way race in a July 20 Quinnipiac poll. AP/Hartford Courant: Lamont Trails Lieberman In New Poll

GIULIANI TALKS PORT SECURITY IN SC: Seaports in the United States, including the Port of Charleston, are not as safe from terrorism as they should be, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani said [in Charleston] Wednesday. Giuliani, a potential 2008 Republican presidential candidate, was in South Carolina's major port city for a $2,500-per-person fundraiser for the state Republican Party at the Hibernian Hall on Meeting Street. Standing less than a mile from the headquarters of the busiest container port in the Southeast or Gulf Coast, Giuliani told reporters at a pre-event news conference that nearly five years after the 9/11 attacks, the country's "ports are not as safe as the airports. We have not emphasized port security the same way as airport security." Columbia State: Beef up ports security, Giuliani says

HILLARY CAMP RELEASES FIRST AD: Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's re-election campaign began airing its first television ad Wednesday, a 60-second series of testimonials from New Yorkers lauding her for everything from preserving a military base to securing a boy's bone marrow transplant. The ad, produced by Clinton's longtime media adviser Mandy Grunwald, will air on broadcast and cable stations upstate and on cable stations in Westchester and Long Island, campaign spokesman Howard Wolfson said. Wolfson would not disclose how much the campaign had spent to air the spot but called the ad buy "substantial." It was scheduled to begin airing Wednesday afternoon. AP via NY Newsday: New York Sen. Clinton's campaign launches 1st TV ad

SPENCER AD "BEYOND OUTRAGEOUS," SAYS HIL: Sen. Hillary Clinton lashed out yesterday at Republican John Spencer's campaign ad linking her and Osama Bin Laden, calling it "beyond outrageous." "He'll have to answer for it, but I think it's a terrible injustice," Clinton said. "People in public life do a great disservice to our country accusing patriotic Americans of [being in league with] Osama Bin Laden." The Spencer camp noted that Clinton began airing a polished campaign commercial -- her first this year across the state -- and gleefully, though improbably, claimed credit. "They are very very nervous about John Spencer," said his spokesman Rob Ryan. "He's hit a nerve with this ad and now they have to respond." New York Daily News: Ad tying me to Osama 'outrageous,' says Hil

POTENTIAL '08 PRIMARY OPPONENT McCAIN STUMPS FOR ALLEN: Sen. George Allen, his re-election campaign under fire amid charges he made racially insensitive remarks, received a boost yesterday from a would-be rival. Sen. John McCain of Arizona bolstered Allen's defense credentials at a Veterans for Allen rally in downtown Norfolk. About 125 people attended the event at the Norfolk Marriott hotel. McCain and Allen may face each other in 2008 for the Republican presidential nomination. Yesterday, each complimented the other. McCain said of Allen, "He works hard, he believes in what he does, he understands the issues and he studies hard every day." Richmond Times-Dispatch: McCain boosts Allen at rally

ALLEN TRIES TO MEND FENCES WITH INDIAN COMMUNITY: Sen. George Allen met Wednesday with Indian-American political leaders concerned that he referred to a rival's campaign staffer as "Macaca" and told the Virginia native of Indian descent, "Welcome to America." Members of the US Indian Political Action Committee said they have received hundreds of e-mails about the comments Allen made Friday at a speech that S.R. Sidarth was videotaping for his Democratic challenger, Jim Webb. "Obviously, we'll be looking at his actions in terms of working with us and hopefully trying to mend some of the fences that have been broken," said Sonjay Puri, a businessman and director of the PAC, which claims 30,000 members. AP via Yahoo! News: Allen meets with Indian PAC over remarks
Posted By Stephen Bach, CNN Washington Bureau: 8/17/2006 09:20:00 AM ET | Permalink
Wednesday, August 16, 2006
The Cafferty File: Help from Hezbollah
On "The Situation Room" today, we asked viewers the following questions, and here are some of our favorite responses that we didn't get to read on air:

What does it mean if Hezbollah is leading the reconstruction effort in Lebanon?

That is simple math. If Hezbollah is orchestrating the reconstruction, they are not leaving town!
Beatrice, Boynton Beach, Florida

Hezbollah reconstruction aid for Lebanon is great... for us! It means Iran is paying instead of American taxpayers. We couldn't win the hearts and minds of Muslims no matter how much money we wasted on them. All we would see is enormous corruption and even more hatred of the U.S.
Errol

If you allow Hezbollah to take part in the reconstruction of Lebanon, did the objective really get accomplished by Israel? Obviously not... Not only will the reconstruction of Lebanon take place, but so will that of Hezbollah. Sort of makes you think that all those lives and structures were lost for nothing.
Stewart, Tallahassee, Florida

I think we need Hezbollah in New Orleans! It sounds like they know what they're doing.
J.

It means more elaborate and better bunkers will be built for the next go around. The Lebanese people will someday realize that sleeping with the enemy won't bring peace, only future grief.
Mike, Charlotte, North Carolina

Jack, It means the Democratic Party needs to be in touch with Hezbollah's Public Relations director.
Curtis, Portland, Maine

Should the ACLU keep its nose out of Hazelton, Pennsylvania's immigration laws?

The people of Hazleton elected their mayor and city council to enact and enforce ordinances they feel are needed in the local community. Why? One reason is because the federal government will not enforce its own laws! I believe there is a place for the ACLU but not here. I think they have bigger and more important battles to fight - many with the federal government.
Joe, Binghamton, N.Y.

Most of the time the ACLU angers me with what I consider stupid law suits. But, one of the few remaining liberties is the right to put government to task. I feel that any group that helps keep the government somewhat in check is necessary, like it or not.
Scotty, Tivoli, New York

Jack, The answer is yes. They should concentrate on protecting the civil rights of legal citizens. Ambulance chasers probably score higher on the respect poll than the ACLU right now.
Dave, Arizona

In light of the war between Israel and Hezbollah, are the media paying enough attention to Iraq?

Dear Jack, Not only have the media ignored Iraq lately, but Afghanistan, which was our only legitimate incursion, has been ignored for years. From what little I read/see, things aren't going well there, either.
Pat , Sneads Ferry, North Carolina

Jack, Thank you for bringing this up. It has made me as a 100% disabled veteran sick to my stomach we were not covering our soldiers; instead we were covering terrorists and Israel. Thanks for keeping the truth before us.
Scott, Athens, Alabama

No, the media are not paying enough attention to the total breakdown of order in Iraq, and because of the 24/7 coverage of every hangnail and burp in Lebanon, the Bush administration is heaving a giant sigh of relief we can hear clear out here on the West Coast.
Rod, Eugene, Oregon

I think the media overkills the coverage of all the news. I don't know what is happening in America because of the coverage in the Middle East, in either Iraq or Lebanon.
Ted, Boerne, Texas

The coverage by the media reminds me of a runaway football game... you have one team winning by 20 to 30 points and the network switches over to a more exciting game. It seems to me that Americans are more interested in seeing the actual destruction of a country than the recovery of, or the slow disintegration of, a country.
Daniel, Columbus, Ohio
Posted By Jack Cafferty, CNN Commentator: 8/16/2006 05:49:00 PM ET | Permalink
Peres: Israel allowing humanitarian aid into Lebanon


Shimon Peres said, "Whenever we are asked, we agreed" if Israel considered the aid flights legitimate.

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Shimon Peres said Wednesday that Israel has opened its airspace to planes from Arab countries carrying humanitarian aid to Lebanon.

Speaking from Washington, Peres said there have been a number of such flights, but would not identify the countries providing assistance. Israel normally won't allow overflights from Arab nations with whom it does not have diplomatic relations -- a position also taken by such Arab countries.

"Whenever we are asked, we agreed, as long we we are convinced" they are legitimate, said Peres.

The vice premier added that Israel expects the safe release of two soldiers whose capture July 12 by Hezbollah set off weeks of fighting. The latest information he's received suggests the men "are alive and they are healthy," he said.

Peres is in the United States to raise money for parts of northern Israel damaged by Hezbollah rockets launched from southern Lebanon during the recent fighting. He launched the fund-raising effort at the Jewish Federation of Greater Washington.
Posted By Paul Courson, CNN Washington Bureau: 8/16/2006 01:22:00 PM ET | Permalink
Alleged Mexican drug kingpin nabbed in offshore operation
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Reputed Mexican drug lord Javier Arellano-Felix has been captured by U.S. authorities in an offshore operation in the Pacific, according to federal law enforcement sources familiar with the case.

The U.S. Coast Guard currently has Arellano-Felix in custody, and the infamous fugitive will be brought ashore in San Diego, California, where he has been indicted and will be arraigned, federal officials said. (Full story)

Arellano-Felix and his brother, Eduardo, who together headed the drug cartel that bears their name, top the Drug Enforcement Agency's Most Wanted List, with $5 million offered for their capture.

The brothers face several felony indictments, including conspiracy to import and distribute cocaine and marijuana on a massive scale. Officials have said the cartel was responsible for a recently discovered, elaborately constructed tunnel under the Mexico-California border.
Posted By Terry Frieden, CNN Washington Bureau: 8/16/2006 12:55:00 PM ET | Permalink
Court: Teen cancer victim can forgo chemo


Abraham Cherrix lauded the decision.

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- A Virginia court Wednesday allowed a teenage boy battling cancer to forgo chemotherapy and receive an alternative treatment.

The court signed a consent decree allowing Abraham Cherrix, 16, to receive the Hoxsey treatment, which involves herbal medicines, from a specialist in Mississippi.

Virginia's Department of Social Services had argued that if Cherrix did not undergo chemotherapy, the most common treatment for cancer, it would constitute medical neglect.

Speaking after the ruling in Accomac, Virginia, Cherrix expressed relief that the court battle was over and he would be able to move forward with his treatment.

"Everything that we wanted to ever have, we've won," he said. "We finally got our freedom back."

Cherrix did not rule out radiation, saying he would do it if the Hoxsey treatment does not work. But he expressed optimist, saying "we expect very positive results."

-- CNN Correspondent Joe Johns and Senior Producer Steve Turnham contributed to this report.
Posted By CNN's Washington Bureau: 8/16/2006 11:03:00 AM ET | Permalink
Allen denies making racially-charged remark


Sen. George Allen (R-Virginia)

From The Morning Grind

Sen. George Allen (R-Virginia) denied he used a racially-charged remark last week to describe a campaign worker for his Democratic opponent, saying in a statement released Tuesday afternoon that his comments "have been greatly misunderstood by members of the media."

Allen referred to S.R. Sidarth, a volunteer on Democrat Jim Webb's Senate campaign, as "Macaca" on two occasions during an event on Friday in Breaks, located in the southwest corner of Virginia. In an e-mail sent to political supporters Monday, the Webb campaign questioned whether Allen was using a racial slur to describe Sidarth, who is of Indian descent, as a monkey.

Sidarth was taping Allen with a hand-held video camera, a standard campaign practice that is often used by opponents for research purposes, as the senator campaigned throughout the state for a second term. He captured Allen's comments on camera and the Webb campaign provided a link to the video in the e-mail sent out Monday.

"This fellow here, over here with the yellow shirt, Macaca, or whatever his name is," said Allen, who at times pointed directly at the camera. "He's with my opponent. He's following us around everywhere. And it's just great."

After suggesting Webb has not visited many parts of the state and has no intention of doing so, as well as criticizing his opponent for meeting with "a bunch of Hollywood movie moguls," the senator turned back to the camera and addressed Sidarth. "Let's give a welcome to Macaca, here," Allen said. "Welcome to America and the real world of Virginia."

Macaca is a class of monkey, including the rhesus monkey.

In the four-paragraph statement issued Tuesday, Allen said, "In singling out the Webb campaign's cameraman, I was trying to make the point that Jim Webb had never been to that part of Virginia -- and I encouraged him to bring the tape back to Jim and welcome him to the real world of Virginia and America, outside the Beltway, where he has rarely visited.

"I also made up a nickname for the cameraman, which was in no way intended to be racially derogatory. Any insinuations to the contrary are completely false."

And Allen said it "was certainly not my intent" to offend anyone by the remark.

"On every stop on my Listening Tour, I have talked about one of my missions for this country -- to make it a land of opportunity for all," Allen said in the statement. "I have worked very hard in the Senate to reach out to all Americans -- regardless of their race, religion, ethnicity or gender. And I look forward to continuing to advocate this important mission for America's future.

As for Sidarth, Allen said, "I never want to embarrass or demean anyone and I apologize if my comments offended this young man. Even though he has signed onto my opponent's campaign, I look forward to seeing him on the trail ahead."

In an interview with CNN's Andrea Koppel just a few hours before Allen released his statement, Sidarth said he had introduced himself to Allen days prior to the incident.

"He was doing that because he could, because he could get away with it," Sidarth said. "I think he was just trying to, trying to point out the fact that I was a person of color, in a crowd that was not otherwise."

In a follow-up interview after Allen released the statement, Sidarth told the Grind he did not view it as an adequate apology. "First of all, if he is going to single me out in a crowd of 100 people he ought to apologize to me personally," Sidarth said.

Added Webb campaign manager Jessica Vanden Berg, "From my perspective, if a U.S. Senator wanted to directly apologize to somebody he would do so. Sidarth has not been apologized to."

In addition, Vanden Berg said Webb's "family and roots are in southwestern Virginia," and he has lived in Falls Church "for a number of years. During Webb's campaign, she said, "he has traveled extensively throughout Virginia.

"So to say that Jim doesn't know Virginia is a lie," Vanden Berg added.
Posted By Mark Preston, CNN Political Unit: 8/16/2006 09:35:00 AM ET | Permalink
VA Secretary Nicholson in Iraq
Veterans Affairs Secretary Jim Nicholson, in Iraq for front-line medical facilities in Iraq, praised the military's treatment of service members wounded in combat.

"Our service members in the combat theater receive the best care in the world, and the VA will continue to provide world class care when they return home and take off their uniform," Nicholson said.

You can read the VA's full press release on the secretary's visit here.
Posted By CNN's Washington Bureau: 8/16/2006 09:35:00 AM ET | Permalink
Former NBA player arrested after shots fired near White House
From Lauren Kornreich
CNN Washington Bureau


WASHINGTON (CNN) -- A Secret Service officer arrested a former NBA player after gunshots were reported just blocks from the White House early Wednesday morning.

Secret Service spokesman Eric Zahren said officers arrested former Charlotte Bobcats player Lonny Baxter, 27, and his passenger Irvin Martin, 35, at around 2:30 a.m. He said officers saw used shell casings in plain view and a handgun.

Zahren said it is unclear why the weapon was discharged and what the intended target was. The men were arrested for possession of a pistol without a license and for having unregistered ammunition and a firearm.

Zahren said a person flagged down the officer to report gunshots near the White House. The officer pulled Baxter and Irvin's SUV over on 17th and I street and arrested the two men.
Posted By CNN's Washington Bureau: 8/16/2006 09:33:00 AM ET | Permalink
Swann trails Rendell by double digits: Bush heads to Pennsylvania for Swann fundraiser
From The Morning Grind

President Bush heads to Pennsylvania today to attend a fundraiser for GOP gubernatorial nominee Lynn Swann, but the former Pittsburgh Steelers great trails incumbent Gov. Ed Rendell (D) by 19 percentage points, a new poll released this morning shows. The Quinnipiac University poll shows Rendell leading Swann 57 percent to 38 percent among likely voters with 4 percent undecided.

"Lynn Swann is taking a big political gamble by inviting President Bush to campaign for him in Pennsylvania, but it's probably a risk he has to take," said Clay F. Richards, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute, in a statement accompanying the poll. "Swann needs President Bush to help win back those Republicans who are backing Rendell. Also, the President can help raise the kind of money Swann needs to take on a well-financed Democratic incumbent."

A Quinnipiac poll released Tuesday showed that Bush's approval rating in Pennsylvania is 33 percent, while 64 percent disapprove of his job performance.
Posted By Mark Preston, CNN Political Unit: 8/16/2006 09:33:00 AM ET | Permalink
Former President Ford hospitalized
From The Morning Grind

Former President Gerald Ford (R), who has been in frail health in recent years, was admitted to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota for "testing and evaluation," his office said in a statement Tuesday night.

Details about the former president's condition were not released. But Ford, 93, has been hospitalized four times since December, including late last month, when he was admitted for two days to a hospital in Vail, Colorado after suffering shortness of breath. In January, he spent 11 days in a hospital near his home in Rancho Mirage, California being treated for pneumonia. In December, he was admitted to the same hospital for unspecified tests. Ford was hospitalized in 2003 after suffering a dizzy spell while playing golf in 96-degree heat. He also suffered a mild stroke during the 2000 Republican National Convention.

Ford became president in August 1974, after the Watergate scandal forced then-President Richard Nixon from office. He sought election in his own right in the 1976 election but was narrowly defeated by Democrat Jimmy Carter.
Posted By Mark Preston, CNN Political Unit: 8/16/2006 09:32:00 AM ET | Permalink
Frist's empty nest
From The Morning Grind

Looking for another reason why Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tennessee) is seriously considering running for president? The two-term senator is already retiring at the end of the year, giving up one of the most powerful political postings in the country. And he revealed to his political supporters in an e-mail Tuesday night that his wife, Karyn, "got a little teary-eyed last night when she started thinking about us being 'empty nesters.'" It seems as though the Frist's youngest son, Bryan, is heading off to college "in a couple of weeks." The couple's oldest son, Harrison, works in New York, while their middle son, Jonathan, is a sophomore in college.

With no curfews to enforce, dinners to cook or laundry to clean, the Frist's appear to have enough time on their hands to travel to exotic locations frequented by recent retirees such as Ames, Iowa; Manchester, New Hampshire; and Columbia, South Carolina.
Posted By Mark Preston, CNN Political Unit: 8/16/2006 09:32:00 AM ET | Permalink
DAYAHEAD/Events making news today
  • President Bush heads to Pennsylvania today to talk up the economy and attend a fundraiser for GOP gubernatorial nominee Lynn Swann. Bush tours the Harley-Davidson Vehicle Operations in York at 2:25 p.m. ET. He then participates in a 2:50 p.m. ET roundtable on the economy at Harley-Davidson. Bush will deliver a statement at 3:50 p.m. ET from the plant. Bush then heads to Lancaster to attend the Swann fundraiser at 5:20 p.m. ET.

  • The Senate is in recess until September 5, 2006. The Senate Radio-Television Correspondents' Gallery Daybook.

  • The House is in recess until September 6. The House Radio-Television Correspondents' Gallery Daybook.

  • First lady Laura Bush attends a 10:30 a.m. ET fundraiser for Rep. Geoff Davis (R-Kentucky) in Lexington, Kentucky. At 1:10 p.m. ET, she attends a fundraising lunch for Sen. Mike DeWine (R-Ohio) in Kettering, Ohio. At 1:55 p.m. ET, Bush visits the Wright-Dunbar Village with Rep. Mike Turner (R-Ohio) and DeWine.

  • Sen. Joe Biden (D-Delaware), a potential presidential candidate, holds a 1 p.m. ET news conference with local labor and state officials sponsored by Wake Up Wal Mart in Des Moines. At 6:15 p.m. ET, he attends a fundraiser for state Rep. Kevin McCarthy (D) in Des Moines.

  • Vice President Dick Cheney makes remarks at a fundraiser for Sen. Conrad Burns (R-Montana) at 3:30 p.m. ET in Whitefish, Montana. He then heads to Boise, Idaho to attend a 7:30 p.m. ET fundraiser for GOP candidate Bill Sali in Boise, Idaho.

  • Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani (R), a potential presidential candidate, keynotes a fundraiser for GOP House candidate Ralph Norman at 12:30 p.m. ET and later gives a motivational speech at 3:30 p.m. ET in Greenville, South Carolina. He then heads to Charleston for a 7:30 p.m. ET fundraiser for the South Carolina Republican Party.

  • Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean holds a news conference "honoring Clarence Wolfguts, the last Code Talker" at 4:45 p.m. ET in Rapid City, South Dakota. At 10:30 p.m. ET, Dean and state Democratic Party Chair Judy Olson Duhamel hold a public reception in Rapid City.

  • Lynne Cheney participates in a 6 p.m. ET conversation with Walter Isaacson as part of the 2006 McCloskey Summer Speaker Series at the Aspen Institute in Aspen, Colorado.

  • Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney (R), a potential presidential candidate, campaigns for Rep. Jim Nussle (R), who is running for governor of Iowa. Romney later attends the Red, White and Blue fundraiser in Dubuque.

  • Sen. John McCain (R-Arizona), a potential presidential candidate, campaigns for state Rep. Doug Struyk and state House candidate Scott Belt in Council Bluffs, Iowa. He then headlines a luncheon fundraiser for the Louisiana Republican Party in Baton Rogue, Louisiana and then heads to Virginia to campaign for Sen. George Allen (R-Virginia), who is running for re-election. Allen is also eyeing a potential presidential bid.

  • Sen. Sam Brownback (R-Kansas), a potential presidential candidate, attends a 7 p.m. ET campaign event in Vinton, Iowa for Connie Johnson, a GOP state House candidate.
  • Posted By Mark Preston, CNN Political Unit: 8/16/2006 09:28:00 AM ET | Permalink
    Political Hot Topics
    LONDON PLOT HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH IRAQ, SAYS BILL: Former President Bill Clinton got in the current President's face yesterday, slamming the Bush administration for linking the London bomb plot and the war on terror to the war in Iraq. "The Republicans should be very careful in trying to play politics with this London airport thing, because they're going to have a hard time with the facts," Clinton said in an interview. "I don't think the foiling of that London bomb plot has any bearing on our Iraq policy," he said. Clinton's broadside, delivered on ABC's "Good Morning America," came as President Bush spent his second day in the wake of the defused British terror plot holding high-profile national security meetings. New York Daily News: Bill burns Bush

    "DELIBERATE RACIST EPITHET" OR "WEIRD AD-LIBBED WORD WITH NO MEANING?" Sen. George Allen on Tuesday sought to contain the political damage from remarks he made to a Fairfax County man that dredged up charges of racial insensitivity -- allegations that have dogged him for years as governor, senator and now presidential hopeful. Despite a quick apology Monday, criticism poured in about Allen's use of the word "Macaca" to address a volunteer for the campaign of his Democratic opponent, James Webb, and also about another Allen comment, "Welcome to America." Democrats, left-wing bloggers and civil rights groups called him "insensitive" and "racist," while some conservatives called him "foolish" and "mean." The question was fiercely debated all day: Was "Macaca," which literally means a genus of monkey, a deliberate racist epithet or a weird ad-libbed word with no meaning? Washington Post: Allen on Damage Control After Remarks to Webb Aide

    THE NEW, INDEPENDENT, JOEMENTUM: Just one week ago, national Democrats united to try to nudge Senator Joseph I. Lieberman out of his race for re-election after his defeat at the hands of his antiwar rival, Ned Lamont, in the Connecticut Democratic primary. But today Mr. Lieberman appears to be in the race to stay, running as a retooled independent candidate who is taking on both political parties, and Connecticut is already seeing a full-throated re-enactment of the men's blistering primary battle. Far from sulking in defeat, Senator Lieberman has fired most of his senior aides, energized his broad base of donors from his campaigns for president and vice president, produced a new television advertisement explaining his political intentions, and attacked Mr. Lamont over the London terror plot. New York Times: New Lieberman Retooling Race as Independent

    LIEBERMAN ALIENATING SOME SENATE DEMS: A group of Senate Democrats is growing increasingly angry about Sen. Joe Lieberman's (D-Conn.) campaign tactics since he lost the Democratic primary last week. If he continues to alienate his colleagues, Lieberman could be stripped of his seniority within the Democratic caucus should he defeat Democrat Ned Lamont in the general election this November, according to some senior Democratic aides. In recent days, Lieberman has rankled Democrats in the upper chamber by suggesting that those who support bringing U.S. troops home from Iraq by a certain date would bolster terrorists' planning attacks against the U.S. and its allies. He also sparked resentment by saying last week on NBC's Today show that the Democratic Party was out of the political mainstream. The Hill: Dem angst escalates

    FLOTUS HAS RAISED $10.7 MILLION THIS CYCLE: A Gallup/USA Today poll in June found that 69 percent of Americans had a favorable view of the first lady, much higher than the president's 40 percent favorability rating. So far this election cycle, the first lady has spoken at 24 political events, raising a total of $10.7 million, according to the Republican National Committee. "That is obviously an increase of activity from 2002," said Tracey Schmitt, an RNC spokeswoman. "Because of her broad appeal, she is a significant draw wherever she goes, and she is a critical asset to Republican candidates across the country." Washington Post: First Lady a 'Critical Asset' At Republican Fundraisers

    GOP PLANNING $40M FALL AD BLITZ: House Republicans have reserved more than $40 million worth of television advertising time for the fall, most of it aimed at holding seats they control, particularly in the Midwest and Northeast. Republican incumbents in the Philadelphia area -- Reps. Jim Gerlach, Curt Weldon and Mike Fitzpatrick -- as well as Connecticut Reps. Rob Simmons and Nancy Johnson are slated to get roughly $10 million combined in party advertising. In the Ohio River Valley, Reps. Steve Chabot of Ohio, Geoff Davis of Kentucky and Mike Sodrel of Indiana also are to benefit from advertising by the National Republican Congressional Committee. While most of the airtime reserved so far is meant to help GOP incumbents fend off Democratic challenges, House Republicans also plan to spend millions of dollars to try to unseat several Democrats, including Chet Edwards of Texas, John Spratt of South Carolina and Leonard Boswell of Iowa. The NRCC plans to spend at least $1 million in each of those races to help GOP candidates. AP via Yahoo! News: AP: House Republicans plan $40M ad push

    SPENDING MILLIONS, SANTORUM CLOSES IN ON CASEY: It just goes to show what a few million dollars can do. After almost two months of running nonstop TV ads across the state, Republican U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum appears to have made up ground in his race with Democratic opponent Bob Casey Jr. A Quinnipiac University poll released yesterday suggested that Santorum had closed to within 6 points of Casey after trailing by 18 points in June, with the senator gaining among Republicans, Democrats and independents alike. The recent Morning Call/Muhlenberg College poll showed a similarly narrowed gap. The Casey camp says Santorum has spent $3.5 million on ads since launching his TV blitz on June 23 from Erie to Pittsburgh to Scranton to Philadelphia, based on its review of public records at TV stations. The Santorum camp says that calculation may be high but won't release the numbers. But the campaigns agree that Santorum has spent several times what Casey has spent. Philadelphia Inquirer: Santorum cuts down Casey's lead

    McCAIN TRIES THE PORK CHOP ON A STICK: Sen. John McCain, a potential presidential candidate who bypassed Iowa in campaigning for the Republican nomination in 2000, courted Iowans on Tuesday at the State Fair. The Arizona senator touted the importance of the Iowa caucuses in comments to reporters. McCain made all the requisite stops on a fairgrounds tour that created photo ops with beauties and beasts: the State Fair queen and Miss Iowa Angus, as well as the winners of the big boar and super bull contests. And, of course, McCain ate a pork chop on a stick. "This is a remarkable thing here," he said. While McCain hasn't decided whether to make a bid for the White House in 2008, he made no bones about the need to put the Iowa State Fair on his travel schedule in making his third trip to Iowa as a prospective candidate. Des Moines Register: McCain praises timing, clout of Iowa caucuses

    GIBBONS VS. TITUS FOR NV GOV: As of today, it's Gibbons vs. Titus. Despite a bitterly fought campaign on both sides, Republican Jim Gibbons and Democrat Dina Titus emerged victorious from Tuesday's gubernatorial primaries by wide margins. Gibbons, a congressman from Reno, won in a landslide with 48 percent of the Republican vote. State Sen. Bob Beers took 29 percent, while Lt. Gov. Lorraine Hunt managed just 18 percent. Titus, the state Senate minority leader, buried her better-funded rival with 53 percent of the Democratic vote to Henderson Mayor Jim Gibson's 36 percent. It was the result many would have predicted six months ago. But the outcome appeared far less certain after an intense campaign in which new accusations were lobbed almost daily. Las Vegas Review Journal: Titus, Gibbons overcome tough primary competition

    JACK CARTER WILL TAKE ON ENSIGN: Nevada voters picked a former first son to take on an incumbent Republican U.S. senator, set up an intriguing governor's race and delivered a razor-thin victory to a GOP candidate hoping to fill the state's only open U.S. House seat. Democrat Jack Carter, son of former President Carter, on Tuesday easily advanced to a November general election race against incumbent U.S. Sen. John Ensign, R-Nev. Carter said Ensign has been too cozy with the White House. "You know, he's voted for the Bush administration 96 percent of the time," Carter said. AP via Las Vegas Review Journal: Jimmy Carter's Son Wins Nevada Primary

    NJ AG RESIGNS AFTER ETHICS BREACH: Zulima Farber became the first New Jersey attorney general in modern history to resign in scandal, announcing her decision yesterday after a special prosecutor determined she violated state ethics rules by aiding her boyfriend at a traffic stop earlier this year. Gov. Jon Corzine, who pledged a "zero tolerance policy" for ethics infractions in his administration, stood side by side with Farber as they made the announcement at a somber news conference in the governor's Statehouse office last night. Just seven months earlier, the pair stood in the same room as Corzine tapped Farber as the first Hispanic to serve as New Jersey's chief law enforcement official. Corzine praised Farber's service and her decision to step down. Newark Star-Ledger: Farber resigns under fire

    STUDEBAKER WITHDRAWS: Democratic candidate Stephanie Studebaker notified Montgomery County officials Tuesday that she was quitting her bid for Ohio's 3rd Congressional District, which covers the Dayton area. Studebaker, 45, had shut down her campaign after she and her husband were arrested for domestic violence over the weekend at their home in a suburban township. A veterinarian and political newcomer, she was challenging Republican U.S. Rep. Mike Turner, a former Dayton mayor. Cleveland Plain Dealer: Candidate Studebaker quits race after arrest

    TX REPUBLICANS SCRAMBLE TO FIND A WRITE-IN FOR TX 22: With dwindling hopes of keeping Tom DeLay's longtime House seat from falling to a Democrat in November, Texas Republicans on Tuesday called an urgent meeting for Thursday to exercise their only option: agreeing on a write-in candidate. But that slender prospect -- no such write-in campaign has succeeded in the state -- seemed to suffer a blow when a leading candidate facing party opposition disparaged the meeting, saying "that may have worked in Moscow," and vowed to keep running even if it meant two Republican write-in candidates. "I'm in the race and I'm in it to win," said the candidate, David G. Wallace, the part-time mayor of [Sugarland,] this booming Houston suburb named for its onetime Imperial sugar factory. He said he might be too busy campaigning to attend the meeting. New York Times: DeLay's Seat Up for Grabs, Texas Republicans Will Meet to Weigh Write-Ins

    BILL NOT HAPPY ABOUT TURNING 60: The big 6-0 is fast approaching and Bill Clinton says he hates it - man, does he hate it. Once, the nation's 42nd president was the youngest person in the room. Now, he often is the oldest -- and, for Clinton, that's hard to take. The soon-to-be sexagenarian -- he turns 60 on Saturday -- admitted yesterday at the 16th International AIDS conference in Toronto, where he is the featured speaker, that the milestone fills him with fear. Delegates responded by serenading him with "Happy Birthday." "In just a few days, I will be 60 years old. I hate it, but it's true," Clinton grumbled. New York Post: BUBBA'S BLUES OVER THE
    BIG 6-OH


    SURPRISE DELIVERY FOR JINDALS: When it comes to health care policy, they don't come much wonkier than Rep. Bobby Jindal, R-Kenner. But all the statistics, charts and graphs in the world didn't prepare the freshman lawmaker for the words he heard from his wife's mouth early Tuesday morning. "This baby is coming now!" Supriya Jindal yelled. Jindal threw out the instruction book and delivered his baby son at home. Slade Ryan Jindal, the couple's third child, was born Tuesday about 3:25 a.m. on the floor of his parents' bedroom in Kenner. He is healthy and at birth weighed 8 pounds, 2 ounces and was 21 inches long. New Orleans Times-Picayune: Jindal is forced to stand in for stork
    Posted By Stephen Bach, CNN Washington Bureau: 8/16/2006 09:13:00 AM ET | Permalink
    Tuesday, August 15, 2006
    "Macaca"-gate


    Sen. George Allen (R-VA)

    What exactly does the word "macaca" mean? According to some, it's a variation on "macaque"-- a French word describing a type of monkey. Now the word is causing headaches for Virginia Senator George Allen, a Republican running for re-election this November against Democrat Jim Webb. While on the campaign trail on Friday in Breaks, Virginia, Allen twice referred to a Webb volunteer who was recording the speech as "macaca."

    The volunteer, University of Virginia student S.R. Sidarth, is a Virginia native of Indian descent who has been traveling with Allen videotaping his speeches for the Webb campaign. Sidarth said of the comment, "I was the only person of color there, and it was useful for him in inciting his audience." He gave the video of the speech to the Webb campaign, which posted it on YouTube, emailed it to supporters, and sent it to the Washington Post. The comments also sparked controversy on political blogs, some of which have claimed that Allen has a "race problem."

    Allen issued a statement today saying that he "made up a nickname for the cameraman, which was in no way intended to be racially derogatory. Any insinuations to the contrary are completely false."

    Allen, a possible 2008 presidential candidate, is leading Webb in both polling and fundraising.

    In June, the Webb campaign was accused of distributing an anti-Semitic flyer in his Democratic primary race against opponent Harris Miller, a charge Webb denied.
    Posted By Peter Hamby, CNN Internet Team: 8/15/2006 05:55:00 PM ET | Permalink
    The Cafferty File: Pop culture priorities?
    On "The Situation Room" today, we asked viewers the following questions, and here are some of our favorite responses that we didn't get to read on air:

    What does it mean when more Americans can name the Three Stooges than the three branches of government?

    Just another example of the dumbing of America.
    William, White, Ohio

    I'm sick and tired of people putting the Three Stooges down. They are an important part of our history and it is clear that millions of other Americans, the ones who voted for George Bush the second time, agree with me.
    Jerry, Silver City, New Mexico

    Because the media, namely television, is the classroom of choice for most Americans, perhaps it should take teaching seriously and look for more opportunities to educate us.
    Irene, Cullman, Alabama

    Apparently, No Child Left Behind has left more than a few behind.
    Michael, Jacksonville, Florida

    We are on the fast track to becoming a nation of stooges!
    Darrell, Arkansas

    How should local communities deal with large increases in their immigrant populations?

    To treat the immigration problem at a local level is like trying to put the caboose in front of the train... this problem needs to be addressed at a national level.
    Geoff, Reno, Nevada

    The same as they always have: Free medical care & services, food stamps & welfare, affordable housing, and a "no child left behind" education for their offspring. Let the legitimate taxpayers pick up the tab. Also, it might be a good idea for the locals to take a few Spanish lessons at the local high school.
    Ed, North Kingstown, Rhode Island

    We should phone Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Maricopa County, Arizona. He knows how to handle such problems.
    Emil, Sun City, Arizona
    Posted By Jack Cafferty, CNN Commentator: 8/15/2006 05:55:00 PM ET | Permalink
    The Situation Online: Houston, we have a problem...


    Neil Armstrong left his footprints on the moon and his speech was among the 20th century's defining moments.

    "One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind" -- it is perhaps NASA's most memorable quotation... problem is, NASA can't remember where they put the original recording of Neil Armstrong saying this historic line. The original transmissions from the 1969 landing on the moon are missing, along with over 2,500 boxes of magnetic tape recordings from NASA's Apollo missions. The hope is the original transmissions will be of a higher quality than what was first broadcasted on television. While NASA will continue to look for the originals, some of the replicated footage is still available online at both NASA's Web site and the National Archives' Google video library.

    Watch "The Situation Room" at 4:00 PM, 5:00 PM, and 7:00 PM, ET for these stories and more from our Internet reporters.

    Posted By The Situation Online Producers: 8/15/2006 05:40:00 PM ET | Permalink
    Feds bust Mexican heroin trafficking operation
    WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Federal authorities dismantled a Mexican heroin trafficking organization Tuesday, arresting about 130 suspects in eight states.

    The network produced Mexican-produced black tar heroin and smuggled it across the Southwest border in vehicles or under the clothes of illegal immigrants who came into the United States on foot, anti-drug agents said. U.S. officials said they were concerned by the relatively high purity -- about 80 percent -- of the heroin, known as chiva.

    "Some of those arrested had been hanging around outside methadone clinics, waiting to hit up addicts as they left," said one official familiar with the investigation, which began last November.

    The Drug Enforcement Administration made arrests in Los Angeles, California; Denver, Colorado; Phoenix, Arizona; Indianapolis, Indiana; Cincinatti and Columbus, Ohio; Charlotte, North Carolina; Nashville, Memphis and Knoxville, Tennessee; and Columbia, Charleston, Greenville and Florence, South Carolina.

    About half those arrested in "Operation Black Gold Rush" were U.S. citizens. The other half were Mexicans in the United States illegally who controlled a heroin pipeline from Nayarit, Mexico, to Nashville, DEA officials said. Anti-drug agents, who seized $380,000 in cash, said about $3 million per month of heroin flowed through the pipeline.
    Posted By Terry Frieden, CNN Washington Bureau: 8/15/2006 02:21:00 PM ET | Permalink
    Reagan gunman asks for more parental visits


    John Hinckley has been hospitalized, except for rare outside visits, since 1982.

    WASHINGTON (CNN) -- John Hinckley, who staged an unsuccessful assassination attempt on President Ronald Reagan in 1981, is asking a federal judge for permission to continue visiting his parents' Williamsburg, Virginia, home without supervision.

    Last year, the court granted Hinckley -- found not guilty by reason of insanity in the shooting, though he has been in a mental hospital since -- seven unsupervised visits. His lawyers say he has completed all but one of those trips, according to a court filing this month.

    "On each of these trips, Mr. Hinckley has complied fully with all of the conditions of release, and not a single negative occurrence has been reported," attorney Barry Levine wrote in a memorandum filed in U.S. District Court.

    The Justice Department opposed the request, expressing concern "about the lack of reliable" personnel responsible for monitoring Hinckley. Government officials argued they have not seen or assessed reports filed by Hinckley's psychiatrist, saying the request "must await Mr. Hinckley's request for a hearing."

    U.S. District Court Judge Paul Friedman has scheduled a hearing November 6.
    Posted By Kevin Bohn and Kelli Arena, CNN America Bureau: 8/15/2006 12:13:00 PM ET | Permalink
    Santorum closes gap, but still faces uphill re-election battle
    From The Morning Grind

    Sen. Rick Santorum (R) has gained significant ground in the last two months on State Treasurer Robert Casey (D), who is challenging him for his Pennsylvania Senate seat, a new Quinnipiac University poll released this morning shows. But Santorum still faces an uphill battle to win re-election, as 49 percent of Pennsylvania likely voters say that the incumbent should not be re-elected.

    The poll says that Casey leads Santorum 48 percent to 42 percent among likely voters, with Green Party candidate Carl Romanelli collecting 5 percent and the remaining 5 percent of voters undecided. In a head-to-head match-up, Casey has a 47 percent to 40 percent advantage over Santorum, while a June 21 poll by the university had Casey leading Santorum 52 percent to 34 percent.

    Democrats view the Santorum seat as a must win for the party to wrest control of the Senate from Republican hands in November. In an effort to help dilute Casey's support, Republicans helped Romanelli collect signatures to ensure he was on the November ballot.

    "Bob Casey's lead over Sen. Santorum has shrunk to single digits in part because the Green Party candidate is siphoning votes from the Democratic challenger," Clay Richards, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute, said in a statement released with this morning's poll. "It's not surprising Sen. Santorum has narrowed the gap, but his bid for re-election is still in trouble as long as almost 50 percent of the voters say he does not deserve another term."
    Posted By Mark Preston, CNN Political Unit: 8/15/2006 10:40:00 AM ET | Permalink
    Preaching to the choir
    From The Morning Grind

    Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean will tell members of the Iron Workers International union today that the November elections "will be a referendum on George Bush's failed policies and Republicans clearly see the writing on the wall," according to excerpts of his speech provided to the Grind. It is unclear if Dean will directly address Sen. Joe Lieberman's (D-Connecticut) primary loss to anti-war candidate Ned Lamont, but the chairman will make a passing reference to the high Democratic turnout in Connecticut last week.

    "Record turnout last week showed that Democrats are energized, and turning out in strong numbers," Dean will say.

    Dean will also assure the union workers that the Democratic Party has a "unified agenda" and claim that Americans no longer believe Republicans are best suited to execute the war on terror.

    "Democrats will stand up to Republican attempts to once again use fear to win elections in November," Dean will say.
    Posted By Mark Preston, CNN Political Unit: 8/15/2006 10:34:00 AM ET | Permalink
    The latest on Texas 22
    From The Morning Grind

    Republican precinct chairs from the Texas 22 Congressional District will gather Thursday night in Pearland to hear from GOP candidates who are running to replace Rep. Tom DeLay (R-Texas). DeLay, who resigned earlier this year after winning the GOP nomination, attempted to have his name taken off the ballot so that state Republican leaders could replace it with another candidate. A Texas judge ruled against the action, so now any Republican wishing to run in November must do so as a write-in candidate.

    "In an effort to find one write-in candidate that the party can support, Tina Benkiser, chair of the Texas Republican Party and the chairs of the four counties partially represented in Congressional District 22, felt this was the best way to determine the candidate the party could support," Gary Gillen, chairman of the Fort Bend County Republican Party, told members of the local party in an e-mail this morning.
    Posted By Mark Preston, CNN Political Unit: 8/15/2006 10:33:00 AM ET | Permalink
    The latest on Lieberman
    From The Morning Grind

    With most of his current colleagues switching their support to Democratic primary winner Ned Lamont, Sen. Joe Lieberman (D-Connecticut) received some welcome news Monday when state House Speaker James Amann (D) announced he was standing by his long time friend. And it appears as though Amann is not the only powerful politician who is backing Lieberman, as the incumbent embarks on an independent bid for re-election. White House Pres Secretary Tony Snow refused Monday to say that President Bush backed GOP candidate Alan Schlesinger over Lieberman, perhaps the most outspoken Democratic supporter of the Iraq war.

    "The President supports the democratic process in the state of Connecticut, and wishes them a successful election in November," Snow said.

    And how exactly does Democracy for America really feel about Lamont's victory over Lieberman? Awesome, Awesome, Awesome! The headline on a fundraising e-mail sent out by the DFA to supporters in the wake of Lamont's win over Lieberman.
    Posted By Mark Preston, CNN Political Unit: 8/15/2006 10:32:00 AM ET | Permalink
    DAYAHEAD/Events making news today
  • President Bush visits the National Counterterrorism Center in McLean, Virginia for a 9:55 a.m. ET National Security Council and Homeland Security Council briefing. At 10:45 a.m. ET, Bush meets with the Counterterrorism Team and at 11:45 a.m. ET he makes a public statement following his meetings. At 11:55 a.m. ET, Bush attends lunch with the Counterterrorism and Homeland Security Teams. He then meets with the Homeland Security Team at 1 p.m. ET. Following the meetings, Bush returns to the White House at 3:25 p.m. ET.

  • Vice President Cheney speaks to the Arizona Victory 2006 luncheon at 3:30 p.m. ET in Phoenix. Cheney then attends a 6:30 p.m. ET New Mexico Victory 2006 event in Roswell, New Mexico.

  • The Senate is in recess until September 5, 2006. The Senate Radio-Television Correspondents' Gallery Daybook.

  • The House is in recess until September 6. The House Radio-Television Correspondents' Gallery Daybook.

  • Sen. Evan Bayh (D-Indiana), a potential presidential candidate, attends a 12:30 p.m. ET reception with Democratic state House candidates Tyler Olson and Art Staed in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Bayh then appears at a 4 p.m. ET "Wake Up Wal-Mart" news conference in Cedar Rapids. At 6 p.m. ET, Bayh attends an event for Democratic state Sen. Brian Schoenjahn and Democratic state House candidate Pete McRoberts in Independence, Iowa. Bayh closes his day by attending an event for Democratic state Rep. Ray Zirkelbach in Peosta. Zirkelbach is currently serving in Iraq.

  • Sen. John McCain (R-Arizona), a potential presidential candidate, attends a lunch fundraiser for GOP state Rep. Danny Carroll in Grinnell, Iowa and later campaigns for state Rep. Bill Schnicket in Mason City. McCain is also heading to the Iowa State Fair today.

  • Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean addresses the Iron Workers International 41st Annual Convention at 3:30 p.m. ET at the Hilton Washington.

  • Republican National Committee Chairman Ken Mehlman visits New Jersey today to attend a New Jersey Victory 2006 fundraiser as well as a "Strategy and Unity Session" for state Sen. Tom Kean (R), who is running for U.S. Senate.

  • Sen. Joe Biden (D-Delaware), a potential presidential candidate, meets with Democratic activists at 6:30 p.m. ET in Sioux City, Iowa. At 8 p.m. ET, Biden visits the Woodbury County Democratic Party headquarters in Sioux City.
  • Posted By Mark Preston, CNN Political Unit: 8/15/2006 10:28:00 AM ET | Permalink
    Political Hot Topics
    BUSH SAYS HEZBOLLAH "WAS DEFEATED": President Bush asserted yesterday that Hezbollah was defeated in its month-long conflict with Israel, casting the fighting that killed hundreds of Lebanese and Israeli civilians as part of a wider struggle "between freedom and terrorism." As a U.N.-imposed truce seemed to be holding yesterday, Bush made clear that he blames Hezbollah and its patrons, Iran and Syria, for igniting the conflict. "We recognize that the responsibility for this lies with Hezbollah," Bush said. "Responsibility lies also with Hezbollah's state sponsors, Iran and Syria." Washington Post: Hezbollah the Loser In Battle, Bush Says

    "FIRST MAJOR CRACK IN IRAQ'S FRAGILE UNITY GOVERNMENT": The speaker of Parliament said Monday that he was considering stepping down because of bitter enmity from Kurdish and Shiite political blocs, revealing the first major crack in Iraq's fragile unity government since it was formed nearly three months ago. The speaker, Mahmoud al-Mashhadani, is the third-ranking official in Iraq and a conservative Sunni Arab. Shiite and Kurdish legislators have banded together to try to push him out, mainly because he is considered too radical. Since taking office in late May, Mr. Mashhadani has publicly praised the Sunni insurgency, called the Americans "butchers" and denounced the idea of carving up Iraq into autonomous regions, which the Kurds and some Shiites support. New York Times: Speaker of Iraqi Parliament May Step Down

    BALANCING '06 AND '08: [George] Allen, a Virginia Republican, and [Hillary] Clinton, a New York Democrat, almost polar opposites politically, face the same challenge. They're asking voters for second terms in the Senate this November - terms their most ardent supporters hope they never complete. "She's a very good senator, but she's headed for better things," Mary Houston, a client of LeFrak's Elmcor Senior Center, says of Clinton. Allen's Virginia fans feel the same. "I hope he runs for the White House," says Claude Perkins, a millwright at a plant near Richmond. Both Allen and Clinton are playing down their presidential potential. "I have said all along I am focused on re-election," says Allen, a sentiment Clinton finds herself frequently echoing. At a fundraiser for New York Rep. Charles Rangel, she just smiled when Democratic state Senate leader David Paterson jokingly called her "Madam President - er, Madam Senator." USA Today: Candidates balance political ambitions

    ANTI-HILLARY AD SHOWS "CLINTON AND BIN LADEN IN SIMILAR POSES": Sen. Hillary Clinton is being twinned with terror mastermind Osama Bin Laden in a new TV attack ad that claims she is "playing politics" with national security. GOP candidate and former Yonkers Mayor John Spencer is unleashing the provocative ad - it includes juxtaposed slides showing Clinton and Bin Laden in similar poses - to boost his long-shot effort aimed at stopping the former First Lady from winning a second term in the Senate. The ad bashes Clinton for opposing the Bush administration-authorized wiretapping by the National Security Agency, calling that controversial program "vital" in derailing plots aimed at downing passenger flights from the United Kingdom to this nation. "She'd leave us vulnerable," intones the commercial's unseen female announcer, suggesting the anti-terror measures Clinton has criticized "helped stop another 9/11." New York Daily News: GOP ad is heavily Laden with charges against Hil

    VIDEO (via Spencer campaign blog)

    ALLEN CALLED OUT FOR "MACACA" COMMENT: Democrat James Webb's Senate campaign accused Sen. George Allen of making demeaning comments Friday to a 20-year-old Webb volunteer of Indian descent. S.R. Sidarth, a senior at the University of Virginia, had been trailing Allen with a video camera to document his travels and speeches for the Webb campaign. During a campaign speech Friday in Breaks, near the Kentucky border, Allen singled out Sidarth and called him a word that sounded like "Macaca." "This fellow here over here with the yellow shirt, Macaca, or whatever his name is. He's with my opponent. He's following us around everywhere. And it's just great. We're going to places all over Virginia, and he's having it on film and it's great to have you here and you show it to your opponent because he's never been there and probably will never come." Roanoke Times: Webb campaign says Allen used slur

    VIDEO (via YouTube)

    ALLEN APOLOGIZES: Virginia Sen. George Allen (R) apologized Monday for what his opponent's campaign said were demeaning and insensitive comments the senator made to a 20-year-old volunteer of Indian descent... Depending on how it is spelled, the word macaca could mean either a monkey that inhabits the Eastern Hemisphere or a town in South Africa. In some European cultures, macaca is also considered a racial slur against African immigrants, according to several Web sites that track ethnic slurs. "The kid has a name," Webb communications director Kristian Denny Todd said of Sidarth, a Virginia native who was born in Fairfax County. "This is trying to demean him, to minimize him as a person." Washington Post: Allen Quip Provokes Outrage, Apology

    ZOGBY SHOWS WHAT AMERICA REALLY KNOWS: Sleepy, Grumpy, Larry, Moe, Krypton -- that's what seems to stick in the national mind-set these days. Americans are more familiar with the Seven Dwarfs, the Three Stooges and Superman than with current events and world leaders, according to yet another poll that reveals our trite side. In a survey released yesterday, veteran political pollster John Zogby determined that although 77 percent of us can identify two of the Seven Dwarfs, only 24 percent could name two Supreme Court justices... Meanwhile, a tidy 74 percent were able to name Moe, Larry and Curly as the Stooges in question -- with almost an equal number able to name later members of the slapstick team. But alas, the majority of respondents were unable to name another high-profile group of three: only 42 percent knew that the legislative, executive and judicial branches made up the federal government. Washington Times: Superman tops Supremes

    REID PAYS $1600 INTEREST ON 7-YEAR-OLD $3K DONATION: A seven-year-old political donation has proven costly for the Senate's most senior Democrat. Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., last year refunded a $3,000 check he got in 1999 from a Texas friend, Ben Barnes, after a public interest group revealed it was improper. Now he's paid Barnes more than $1,600 in interest, according to recent filings with the Secretary of the Senate. The filings were disclosed Monday by PoliticalMoneyLine, which tracks campaign spending. Barnes, a lobbyist and former Texas lieutenant governor, made the donation in question to a legal defense fund Reid had established to cover costs of his 1998 Senate race recount, which he won by 428 votes over Republican John Ensign. AP via Yahoo! News: Reid pays interest on improper donation

    ROTHENBERG: DEMS "EXPECTED TO GAIN BETWEEN 5-7 GOVERNORSHIPS": Republicans currently hold a 28-22 advantage in governorships nationwide. Currently, Democrats are expected to gain between 5-7 governorships. Ratings updated August 15, 2006.

  • LIKELY TAKEOVER (2 R, 0 D)

    NY Open (R-Pataki)
    OH Open (R-Taft)

  • LEAN TAKEOVER (3 R, 0 D)

    Ehrlich (R-MD)
    AR Open (R-Huckabee)
    MA Open (R-Romney)

  • TOSS-UP (2 R, 3 D)

    Murkowski (R-AK)
    CO Open (R-Owens)
    Doyle (D-WI)
    Granholm (D-MI)
    IA Open (D-Vilsack)

    2006 Rothenberg Political Report Governors Ratings

    SNOW WON'T BITE ON CT SEN QUESTIONS: President Bush isn't exactly eager to lend his support to the Republican nominee in Connecticut's tumultuous Senate race. The White House was circumspect on Monday when asked whether Bush would support Republican Alan Schlesinger in the three-way fall contest that includes Democratic nominee Ned Lamont and three-term incumbent Sen. Joe Lieberman. "The president supports the democratic process in the state of Connecticut and wishes them a successful election in November," White House spokesman Tony Snow said. Bush routinely backs Republican candidates in races all across the country... Snow was asked whether Bush was balking at supporting Schlesinger because he liked Lieberman - or wanted to stay out of the contest because Schlesinger was trailing badly in the polls. "There may be a whole host of reasons the president - I'm just not going to play," Snow replied. AP via Yahoo! News: White House vague on Conn. Senate race

    FLOTUS RAISES $225K FOR IL REPUBLICAN: Seizing on the issues of homeland security and the threat of terrorism, First Lady Laura Bush said Monday that Republican Peter Roskam would serve in Congress as a "champion" of the military if he defeats his Democratic rival, disabled Iraq war veteran Tammy Duckworth. Appearing at a fundraising luncheon in Addison that raised about $225,000 for Roskam's candidacy in the west suburban 6th Congressional District, Laura Bush also recited a litany of the GOP candidate's accomplishments in serving in the Illinois Senate... The first lady's visit was the latest symbol of the high-stakes fight over the traditionally Republican seat as Democrats try to use the president's low standing in public opinion polls to gain control of the U.S. House. Chicago Tribune: First lady helps Roskam at $225,000 fundraiser

    BIG DIG WOES KNOCK MA GOV'S DEM PRIMARY OUT OF THE NEWS: Since July 10, the day the Big Dig tunnel ceiling collapsed, the Democratic race for governor has not cracked the first eight minutes of the major Boston television newscasts. Now, with the primary five weeks from today, the Democratic race is limping into a critical final stage, pushed to the edges of the public's interest. For candidate Deval Patrick, the diversion has been a blessing. Several polls, including those taken by his rivals, show he has maintained a slim lead or is tied with his two Democratic rivals, even as he has been outspent this summer. Patrick has held the lead in most public polls since winning the Democratic Convention endorsement in early June. His two primary election opponents -- Attorney General Thomas F. Reilly and Christopher Gabrieli, a wealthy businessman -- have spent almost $4 million over the past four weeks in hope of improving their standings. Boston Globe: Yes, there is a Democratic primary

    NEY MAKES IT OFFICIAL: U.S. Rep. Bob Ney on Monday made official his decision not to seek re-election, ensuring a special primary to pick a new Republican nominee for Ohio's 18th Congressional District. By putting his decision in writing to the Tuscawaras County Board of Elections before Saturday, Ney ensured that any Ohio Republican who can get 50 qualifying signatures may run in the primary. Had Ney waited until next weekend, it would have been too late under state law to schedule the primary. That would have meant that Republican officials got to pick his successor for the November ballot, a move certain to be criticized as undemocratic. Cleveland Plain Dealer: Ney officially bows out; decision ensures special primary

    OH DEM SUSPENDS CAMPAIGN AFTER ARREST: The Democratic candidate for Ohio's Third Congressional District said she is suspending her campaign for Congress. Stephanie Studebaker said, "Due to personal issues, The Studebaker For Congress campaign is suspending all campaign activities. We will inform our supporters and the media of any future developments, but request the privacy of our campaign be respected during this time." The statement was issued after a pair of 911 calls were made by Studebaker and her father-in-law on Sunday morning, alleging domestic violence between Studebaker and her husband, Samuel, at their home in Washington Township. Deputies arrested both Stephanie and Samuel Studebaker, who later posted $25,000 bonds each and were released. WHIOTV: Congressional Candidate Suspends Campaign

    BUSH AIDE TAPPED TO RUN IN IA: The Iowa GOP looked to the White House on Monday night in picking a replacement candidate for Iowa secretary of state after their previous one dropped out last month. Iowa Republicans named Mary Ann Hanusa, 43, as their candidate. Hanusa lives in suburban Washington, D.C., and handles President Bush's personal correspondence. Hanusa, a native of Council Bluffs, will face Democrat Michael Mauro, the Polk County auditor, in the election Nov. 7. The winner will replace Chet Culver, who is the Democratic candidate for governor. Hanusa is registered to vote in Iowa. Des Moines Register: Bush aide is GOP's secretary of state candidate
  • Posted By Stephen Bach, CNN Washington Bureau: 8/15/2006 09:18:00 AM ET | Permalink
    Monday, August 14, 2006
    The Cafferty File: Planning for Israel?
    On "The Situation Room" today, we asked viewers the following questions, and here are some of our favorite responses that we didn't get to read on air:

    What does it mean if the U.S. was involved in the planning of Israel's attacks on Hezbollah?

    Leaders in Israel must be out of their minds, if they allowed the U.S. to plan, or assist in planning a military action against Hezbollah. Our track record in the war in Iraq should have indicated to the Israelis that they should have simply gone it alone. No wonder they had so much trouble in the military action in Lebanon.
    Robert, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

    I thought that the occupation of Southern Lebanon was a botched plan, unlike most Israeli campaigns. Now we know why. The White House Iraq Group was providing their expertise.
    Rick, Toronto

    I would not be surprised if America had a hand in the planning of the attack on Hezbollah. President Bush has made it clear that he will be targeting all terrorists and those who harbor terrorists. I hope we helped plan the attack, especially if it means destroying the terrorist threat.
    Jeremiah, Flint, Michigan

    It means that two of the best intelligence agencies in the world have even worse capabilities than we figured and we should rethink our Middle East foreign policy based on these lacking capabilities.
    Alexander

    How can Republicans running for re-election distance themselves from Pres. Bush?

    Republicans shouldn't worry about distancing themselves from "W." The voters will assist them in November, when they send them home for good.
    Craig, Weirton, West Virginia

    If you want to distance yourself from a lousy boss, the first thing you do is your job. You get rid of the rubber stamp and think for yourself. Now that would be refreshing.
    John, Sarasota, Fla.

    By switching parties and becoming Democrats or Libertarians.
    Laura, Trumbull, Connecticut

    It's too late for Republicans to do anything about this. Step aside.
    Brian, St. Augustine, Florida

    How will last week's terror scare affect the midterm elections?

    If the American voters, for the third straight time, fall for the Republicans' fear-mongering tactics of "vote for us or terrorists will kill you" then they deserve an incompetent Congress. How many times can one political party play the same playbook before the voters finally figure it out?
    Matt, Nova Scotia

    It will increase the numbers of voters seeking to entirely change the elected leadership of our country, as people see how readily the leaders currently in power will use terror incidents to foment fear in hopes of getting people to keep them in office.
    David, Murphy, North Carolina

    The foiling of the terrorist plot in London, facilitated by the Pakistani and U.S. intelligence sources, demonstrates that the Republicans are right. We need all the tools in the intelligence tool box that President Bush wants and the Democrats do not.
    Chris, Tampa, Florida

    Last week's terror scare reminds us that five years after 9/11, Al Qaeda and Osama Bin Laden are still on the loose. The war in Iraq didn't make us safer -- we need new leadership and new ideas in November.
    Will, Montague, Massachusetts
    Posted By Jack Cafferty, CNN Commentator: 8/14/2006 05:43:00 PM ET | Permalink
    The first lady hits the campaign trail


    First lady Laura Bush

    From The Morning Grind

    When President Bush wakes up on November 8, he officially becomes a lame duck as Congress looks ahead to the 2008 presidential elections.

    Not only does Bush have to contend with members of his own party breaking away from him as they carve out their own identities for potential presidential bids, but he faces the very real possibility Republicans will lose either the House, Senate or both in the midterm elections. Under this scenario, Bush is no longer a lame duck. In legislative terms, he is a dead duck as Democrats will try to block his policy agenda at every turn.

    But in the months leading up to November, Bush, his wife and Vice President Cheney are trying to thwart a Democratic takeover of Congress by helping GOP candidates raise money to help fuel their campaigns. It is first lady Laura Bush who is handling most of the fundraising responsibilities this week as she attends six events in five states.

    Today, she travels to Chicago, Illinois for a fundraiser for state Sen. Peter Roskam (R), who is running to replace retiring Rep. Henry Hyde (R-Illinois). Tonight, the first lady attends a Republican National Committee fundraiser in St. Louis, Missouri that is expected to raise $500,000, a GOP official tells the Grind. On Wednesday, she attends a fundraising breakfast for Rep. Geoff Davis (R-Kentucky) in Lexington, Kentucky before heading north to Kettering, Ohio for a fundraising lunch for Sen. Mike DeWine (R-Ohio). Following lunch, Bush then travels to Dayton, Ohio to visit the "Wright-Dunbar Village" with Rep. Mike Turner (R-Ohio). And that evening she closes out her day with a fundraiser for state Rep. Chris Wakim (R), who is challenging Rep. Allan Mollohan (D-West Virginia) for his seat.

    So far this election cycle, Bush has raised over $10 million for Republican candidates and party committees, CNN's Research Director Robert Yoon estimates.

    She won't be alone on the campaign trail this week. President Bush on Wednesday attends a fundraiser in Lancaster, Pennsylvania for Lynn Swann, the GOP gubernatorial nominee, and Vice President Cheney makes stops in Arizona and New Mexico on Tuesday for "Victory 2006" events.
    Posted By Mark Preston, CNN Political Unit: 8/14/2006 10:03:00 AM ET | Permalink
    Big Mac attack
    From The Morning Grind

    In a new take on the phrase, "The quickest way to a person's heart is through their stomach," Diana Irey was hunting for votes Sunday with good old fashioned hamburgers -- Big Macs that is. Irey is challenging Rep. Jack Murtha (D-Pennsylvania), the ardent hawk who now is calling for the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq, for his southwest Pennsylvania House seat. She headed to Uniontown, Pennsylvania on Sunday to hand out 200 of the double burgers to highlight Murtha's 30-plus years of service in the House. Why Big Macs? Well, the famous McDonald's hamburger is said to have been invented in Uniontown more than 30 years ago.
    Posted By Mark Preston, CNN Political Unit: 8/14/2006 10:00:00 AM ET | Permalink
    New DSCC web ad
    From The Morning Grind

    The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee releases a new web ad today that criticizes President Bush and the GOP-led Congress for failing to put in place policies to protect the nation. The ad, which has no dialogue but a background chiming sound, opens with a picture of President Bush and seven GOP senators and flashes images of what appears to be acts of terror, Osama bin Laden, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and North Korean leader Kim Jong II. The ad, "Secure," can be viewed here.
    Posted By Mark Preston, CNN Political Unit: 8/14/2006 09:59:00 AM ET | Permalink
    Grind Trivia: Think Some More!
    From The Morning Grind

    By Robert Yoon
    CNN Political Research Director

    Last week, we told you the tale of one Kenneth McKellar, the 35-year U.S. Senate veteran from Tennessee who, despite his clever "Thinking Feller? Vote McKellar" campaign slogan, lost his state's 1952 Democratic primary to a candidate with an even more clever slogan. We asked Grind readers the world over to name that winning slogan in exchange for a fabulous, that is to say, "available," prize.

    As many of you pointed out, some with the help of the good folks at Wikipedia, the winning candidate in that primary was Rep. Albert Gore, Sr., whose slogan "Think Some More - Vote for Gore," helped propel him to the Senate, and probably indirectly boosted the political fortunes of his son, future vice president Al Gore, Jr.

    In journalist Bill Turque's 2000 book "Inventing Al Gore," the elder Gore credited his wife, Pauline LaFon Gore, for penning the slogan. "Mrs. Gore and I came home one Saturday night after a hard day of campaigning, and she cleaned off the kitchen table and made a pot of coffee and said, 'Well, Albert, sit down here....' So we wrote doggerels and rhymes and riddles and finally came to one that we thought would work."

    More than 150 of you came up with the correct answer, but as our rules stated, in the event of a 150-way tie, the winner of the "CNN Mardi Gras 2006" bead necklace and pendant would be selected at random by our now-former intern Josh Lipsky. Josh has chosen, and the lucky winner is (dramatic pause) Scott "No relation to Bill" Schneider of New Orleans, Louisiana. We realize it seems a little odd, perhaps even unfair, that the winner of a commemorative Mardi Gras bead necklace would go to someone whose access to beaded Mardi Gras paraphernalia would be greater than that of the average world citizen, but former intern Josh has already packed his bags.

    Although we only have one beaded necklace to spare this time, we would like to recognize a few honorable mentions for their contributions:

    FIRST RESPONDER: Brad Coker of Mason-Dixon Polling clocked in with the very first correct answer a mere eight minutes after the question was posted.

    STRAIGHT FROM THE GORES' MOUTH(S): "Pastor Don" Clifford of Brandon, Minnesota, says he first heard the story from the senior Gore himself during a 1968 speech at Concordian Senior College in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Chris Clarke of Hendersonville, Tennessee, heard the tale from Karenna Gore Schiff at a book signing.

    LONG-DISTANCE GRINDERS: The correct answer that traveled the furthest was from Ben Gray of Perth, Western Australia. A distant but still respectable second place goes to Tom Dart of Belfast, Northern Ireland.

    MOST DISAPPOINTED: Some of you really, really wanted to win. Fred Weber of Chicago, Illinois, casually mentioned in his response that Friday was his birthday. Dustin McCracken of McLean, Virginia, wrote "Like Josh, my last day of interning is [Friday], so I think we both need some CNN beads to take back to school for the inevitable Mardi Gras party." And Dennis Barrett of Syracuse, New York, said simply, "I really need that necklace." (We won't ask why.) But none wanted it more than Misha Leybovich of Irvine, California, who wrote, "Can't wait for my 'CNN Mardis Gras 2006' bead necklace and pendant. I think I might even wear it to my buddy's wedding."

    WRONGEST ANSWER: Ed McClanahan of Lexington, Kentucky, was farthest off the mark, but deserves a prize for originality. He wrote: "Senator McKellar was defeated by Estes Kefauver, who ran on a birth-control platform. His slogan: 'Bestest Keepoffher. Vote Estes Kefauver."
    Posted By Mark Preston, CNN Political Unit: 8/14/2006 09:53:00 AM ET | Permalink
    DAYAHEAD/Events making news today
    From The Morning Grind

  • President Bush meets with the Secretary of Defense and the Defense Policy and Programs Team at 9:20 a.m. ET at the Pentagon. Bush then has lunch with experts on Iraq at 11:50 a.m. ET. By 1:20 p.m. ET, Bush will have made his way to the State Department to meet with the Secretary of State and Foreign Policy Team. He will make a statement at 3:30 p.m. ET.

  • The Senate is in recess until September 5, 2006. The Senate Radio-Television Correspondents' Gallery Daybook.

  • The House is in recess until September 6. The House Radio-Television Correspondents' Gallery Daybook.

  • Sen. Evan Bayh (D-Indiana), a potential presidential candidate, visits the Iowa State Fair in Des Moines at 10 a.m. ET with state Sen. Dick Dearden. He attends 9:30 a.m. ET media availability with Secretary of State Chet Culver at the fair. Bayh then attends a 12:30 p.m. ET fundraiser for state Rep. Lisa Heddens and Story County Supervisor Jane Halliburton in Ames. At 6 p.m. ET, Bayh attends a fundraiser for state Senate candidate Bill Heckroth in Waverly followed by a 7 p.m. ET fundraiser with state House candidate Doris Kelley and state Rep. Bob Kressig in Cedar Falls.

  • First Lady Laura Bush attends a 1:30 p.m. ET fundraiser for Peter Roskam in Addison, Illinois. She attends a 6:30 p.m. ET Republican National Committee fundraiser in St. Louis, Missouri.

  • Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tennessee) campaigns for GOP Senate candidate Mike McGavick in Spokane and Seattle.
  • Posted By Mark Preston, CNN Political Unit: 8/14/2006 09:48:00 AM ET | Permalink
    Political Hot Topics
    "SIGNS OF POLITICAL CRISIS" AS BOTH SIDES AGREE TO CEASE-FIRE: The Israeli Cabinet approved the United Nations Security Council resolution calling for a cease-fire in Israel's fighting with Hezbollah yesterday. But both sides ramped up their attacks to improve their positions ahead of the truce, which went into effect this morning. Signs of political crisis were evident in both Israel and Lebanon. A Lebanese Cabinet meeting was postponed yesterday indefinitely amid serious disagreements over the key issue of disarming Hezbollah fighters. In Israel, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert faced growing calls for his resignation at what one critic called a "humiliating defeat." Boston Globe: Israel approves cease-fire resolution

    "FRANTIC" DIPLOMACY AT THE UN: American secretaries of state attend Security Council sessions on resolutions only after a deal has been struck. Yet last Friday, when Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice arrived in New York, not only was there no deal, it was unclear whether the Council would even meet. Negotiators [at the United Nations] and in Paris, Washington, Beirut, Jerusalem and Arab capitals were still fighting over central elements of a draft resolution to halt the combat. The fact that a resolution was passed unanimously that night still amazes some of the participants. New York Times: U.S. Shift Kicked Off Frantic Diplomacy at U.N.

    SY HERSH: U.S. KNEW IN ADVANCE OF ISRAELI WAR PLANS: "According to a Middle East expert with knowledge of the current thinking of both the Israeli and the U.S. governments, Israel had devised a plan for attacking Hezbollah - and shared it with Bush Administration officials - well before the July 12th kidnappings. 'It's not that the Israelis had a trap that Hezbollah walked into,' he said, 'but there was a strong feeling in the White House that sooner or later the Israelis were going to do it.'" New Yorker: WATCHING LEBANON; Washington's interests in Israel's war

    RED TO ORANGE: The Department of Homeland Security last night reduced the terrorism threat level for U.S.-bound flights from Britain from red, for "severe," to orange, for "high," in the wake of last week's raids that officials say broke up a London-based bomb plot by Islamist radicals. "I think the likelihood is, the main elements of the plot have been scooped up," Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said yesterday on NBC's "Meet the Press." But Mr. Chertoff said the United States needs "maximum flexibility" to thwart terrorist attacks. "What helped the British in this case is the ability to be nimble, to be fast, to be flexible, to operate based on fast-moving information," he said on ABC's "This Week." Washington Times: Terror threat level cut, but still 'high'

    "BETTER GRADES" FOR CHERTOFF THIS TIME: Right after Hurricane Katrina ripped through the Gulf Coast last year, Michael Chertoff, the homeland security secretary, flew to Atlanta for a conference on bird flu — and then spent months parrying criticism that his department had flunked the first big test of its existence. Last week, the department confronted a second major test, the arrests in Britain of 24 men suspected of plotting to blow up airliners bound for the United States. In this case, the initial reviews of Mr. Chertoff's performance have been largely positive. The Homeland Security Department responded quickly to impose new security measures on the fear that some plotters might still be at large. Questions remain about the agency's bureaucracy and its ability to anticipate threats rather than just react to them. But it is notable that Mr. Chertoff is being praised by some people who once bitterly chastised him or even called for his resignation. New York Times: Homeland Security Department Gets Better Grades in 2nd Major Test

    REPUBLICANS WORRYING ABOUT THE NORTHEAST: The Iraq war and Bush's low approval ratings have created trouble for Republicans in all regions. But nowhere is the GOP brand more scuffed than in the Northeast, where this year's circumstances are combining with long-term trends to endanger numerous incumbents... Last week's defeat of Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman, a Connecticut moderate who has supported the Iraq war, in the Democratic primary gave Republicans a vivid look at some of the same angry currents likely to buffet them this fall. A Washington-Post ABC News poll this month found Bush's approval rating at 28 percent in the Northeast -- 12 points below his national average. The Republican Congress fared no better. Republican losses in the region could echo well beyond the 2006 campaign. Because much of the region is tilting Democratic, history suggests Republicans would find it hard to recapture seats once lost. Washington Post: For GOP, Bad Gets Worse in Northeast

    SONS OF '80 ELECTION LOSERS "STRIKE BACK": In the history of the Democratic Party, the election of 1980 looms large: the year the party lost the White House, the Senate, a generation of Midwestern liberals and, in some ways, its confidence that it was the natural, even inevitable, majority party. Now, that election has a sequel. Call it the return of the sons: Chet Culver, the Iowa secretary of state and the son of former Senator John C. Culver, is running for governor of Iowa. Senator Evan Bayh, son of former Senator Birch Bayh of Indiana, is organizing and testing the waters for a possible presidential bid in 2008. And Jack Carter, the son of former President Jimmy Carter, has decided at the age of 59 to run an uphill race for the Senate in Nevada, his first foray into electoral politics. New York Times: Fathers Defeated, Democratic Sons Strike Back

    LAMONT "SURPRISED" BY LIEBERMAN/CHENEY TERROR REMARKS: The thwarted terrorist airline plot in Britain is sparking a bitter new round of finger-pointing in Connecticut's bruising Senate race. Democratic nominee Ned Lamont, the anti-war candidate who toppled Sen. Joe Lieberman in the Connecticut primary last week, said he was surprised by Lieberman's and Vice President Dick Cheney's claims that his views on Iraq could embolden terrorists. "My God, here we have a terrorist threat against hearth and home, and the very first thing that comes out of their mind is how can we turn this to partisan advantage. I find that offensive," Lamont said in an interview Sunday with The Associated Press. AP via Yahoo! News: Lieberman terror remarks surprise Lamont

    DROP OUT, JOE, SAYS DEAN ON "MEET": The Democratic Party's boss says it's time for Joe to go. Adding his voice to a chorus of other leaders, Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean said yesterday that Connecticut Sen. Joseph Lieberman should drop his independent bid against Ned Lamont, the anti-war candidate who knocked him off in last week's primary. "I know how hard this is for Joe, and he is a good person, but the truth is, I lost one of these races, and I got behind my party's nominee, and I think that is what you have to do if you want to help this country," Dean said on NBC's "Meet the Press." "The way to help this country is to limit Republican power," he said. New York Daily News: Joe, you gotta go, says Dem boss Dean

    LIEBERMAN LEADS LAMONT 46-41 IN POLL: Connecticut Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman leads Democratic nominee Ned Lamont by 5 percentage points in the first poll taken since Tuesday's bruising primary battle. The Rasmussen Reports survey polled 550 likely voters Wednesday and Thursday and found Lieberman, who is running as an independent, with 46 percent to Lamont's 41 percent. Republican nominee Alan Schlesinger trailed with 6 percent. The poll shows Lamont in a much stronger position than a July 20 survey by Quinnipiac University, which had Lieberman beating Lamont 51 percent to 27 percent in a November faceoff. "This tells me the Lieberman-Lamont race is going to be competitive right through November," said pollster Scott Rasmussen. Hartford Courant: Post-Primary Poll Gives Lieberman Narrow Lead

    "NOBODY IS A MORE LOYAL AND TRUSTED ADVISER" THAN HADASSAH: Some of the senator's former advisers have said that his political problems have stemmed from an overreliance on loyalists who have the same world view as he. And perhaps nobody is a more loyal or more trusted adviser than Mrs. Lieberman. But she is a force of her own. At several points this summer, she marshaled energy and enthusiasm among staff members, encouraging them to stay upbeat despite troubling poll numbers and to find ways to put Mr. Lieberman's best face forward. If that were not enough, Mrs. Lieberman has also juggled the responsibility of helping to plan their elder daughter's wedding. [It was held Sunday, after having been postponed from just before the primary.] New York Times: Lieberman's Closest Adviser

    CAN ANY CANDIDATE COMPETE WITH ARNOLD'S PIZAZZ? It is no small task for [Democratic gubernatorial nominee Phil] Angelides to compete in a personality contest with Schwarzenegger, a Hollywood star who has spent three decades polishing the public image that produced his wealth and political power base. For Angelides, a Sacramento insider who toils over bond sales and pension funds in his job as state treasurer, a lack of pizazz would, in theory, have little bearing on his ability to run the state. But candidate personalities always matter in a race for governor, and the difficulty of vying one-on-one against Schwarzenegger's is one of the most serious challenges that Angelides faces. "Voters vote for people, not for platforms," said Mark Mellman, a Democratic pollster who often surveys public opinion in California. "At the end of the day, who a candidate is, as a person, is vastly more important than almost anything else." Angelides advisors play down the significance of the personality contrast. Los Angeles Times: Angelides and the Charisma Question
    Posted By Stephen Bach, CNN Washington Bureau: 8/14/2006 09:13:00 AM ET | Permalink
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