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Thursday, September 28, 2006
CNN Political Ticker AM
Compiled by Stephen Bach
CNN Washington Bureau

Making news today...

  • Senate in play? The New York Times reports "[s]ix weeks before Election Day, the Democrats suddenly face a map with unexpected opportunities in their battle for control of the Senate."

  • New York AG Candidate Jeanine Pirro disclosed yesterday that she is under investigation by the FBI for discussing a plan "to secretly eavesdrop on her husband," "a jaw-dropping disclosure that could shatter her campaign," reports NY Newsday. "Uh, Jeanine, hope you had career Plan B," reads a New York Daily News headline.

  • Among other factors, "personal connections" and offering Ken Mehlman a "ride to the airport... helped land the 2008 Republican national convention in the Twin Cities," reports the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.

  • Sen. Joe Lieberman (D-Connecticut), running as an independent, "holds a 49-39 percent likely voter lead over Democratic candidate Ned Lamont," according to a Quinnipiac University poll released today.

  • What kind of star treatment will $500K buy you at Bill Clinton's upcoming 60th birthday "fundraising extravaganza" in NYC? Find out in Hot Topics below!

    President's schedule:

  • President Bush huddles with Senate Republicans at 8:30 am ET on Capitol Hill.

    He then heads to Hoover, Alabama for a 12:10 pm ET briefing on Energy at the Hoover Public Safety Center. At 1:05 pm ET, Bush makes a statement on energy at the center.

    At 2:20 pm ET, Bush attends a fundraiser for Alabama Gov. Bob Riley in Birmingham.

    After the Riley fundraiser, Bush heads north to New Albany, Ohio, for a fundraiser for Rep. Deborah Pryce, R-Ohio, at a private home.

    Also on the Political Radar today:

  • First Lady Laura Bush speaks at a 10:45 am ET fundraiser for GOP congressional candidate Mike Whalen and the Iowa Republican Party in Davenport, Iowa. She then speaks at a 1:05 pm ET fundraiser for GOP congressional candidate Jeff Lamberti in Des Moines. Bush then heads to Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, to speak at a fundraiser for GOP gubernatorial candidate Dick DeVos.

  • Sen. John Kerry, D-Massachusetts, delivers a "national security" speech at 8:30 am ET at the John Hopkins Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies in Washington, DC.

    PROGRAMMING NOTE: Kerry joins CNN's Paula Zahn as she anchors PZN from DC tonight at 8 pm ET.

  • Hewlett-Packard Chairman and CEO Mark Hurd, and Former Chairwoman Patricia Dunn will appear today at 10 am ET at a hearing before the House Energy and Commerce Committee's Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations: "Hewlett-Packard's Pretexting Scandal."

  • House Majority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) holds a 10:30 am ET media availability in the House Radio and Television Correspondent's Gallery.

  • House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-California) holds a 10:45 am ET media availability in room H-206 of the Capitol.

  • Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada), and Sens. Dick Durbin (D-Illinois) and Chuck Schumer (D-New York) hold a pen and pad on "changing the course in Iraq" in S-221 of the Capitol.

  • The Senate Radio-Television Correspondents' Gallery Daybook

  • The House Radio-Television Correspondents' Gallery Daybook

    Political Hot Topics
    (Today's top political stories from news organizations across the country)

    MUSHARRAF, KARZAI GET "A LITTLE TALKING-TO" AT THE WH: For the past week, the presidents of Afghanistan and Pakistan have been in the United States, circling one another like wary cats as they lobbed insults across the airwaves from a distance. On Wednesday night, they stood glumly - more like caged cats - in the Rose Garden with President Bush, who had invited them to the White House for dinner and a little talking-to. "We've got a lot of challenges facing us," Mr. Bush said, with President Pervez Musharraf of Pakistan on his right and President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan a safe distance away on his left. "All of us must protect our countries, but at the same time we all must work to make the world a more hopeful place." New York Times: Bush Plays Chaperon for Awkward Encounter

    ANOTHER "AWKWARD" VISITOR TOMORROW: President Bush meets Friday with the leader of oil-rich Kazakhstan, a visit made awkward by the country's poor human rights record and questions about its commitment to democracy. Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev's trip to the White House is the second diplomatic balancing act for Bush this week. On Wednesday, Bush hosted the quarreling presidents of Afghanistan and Pakistan in an attempt to get them to jointly fight terrorism. Nazarbayev and Bush will discuss energy, Kazakhstan's economy and efforts to fight terrorism and narcotics trafficking, the White House says. USA Today: Kazakh leader's visit to require diplomatic finesse

    HOUSE PASSES DETAINEE LEGISLATION; SENATE APPROVAL EXPECTED TODAY: The House approved an administration-backed system of questioning and prosecuting terrorism suspects yesterday, setting clearer limits on CIA interrogation techniques but denying access to courts for detainees seeking to challenge their imprisonment at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and elsewhere. The 253 to 168 vote was a victory for President Bush and fellow Republicans. Bush had yielded some ground during weeks of negotiations, but he fully embraced the language that the House approved with support from 34 Democrats and all but seven Republicans... Senators predicted that their chamber will approve the legislation today, which would enable Bush to hold a signing ceremony on a high-profile and intensely debated bill about a month before the Nov. 7 elections. Washington Post: House Approves Bill on Detainees

    GOP SQUABBLING STALLS HOMELAND SECURITY, DEFENSE BILLS: Two must-pass defense and homeland security bills are being blocked in a fight between Republican lawmakers about border and immigration security measures. The homeland security appropriation bill and the defense authorization bill are among the handful of pieces of legislation that lawmakers had hoped to complete this week before heading home for the November elections. Now both are stalled because Republican House leaders want to include a series of measures passed in their chamber designed to strengthen border security and toughen immigration enforcement. Democrats charged the Republicans were playing politics with vital legislation and accused House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert, Illinois Republican, of "Soviet"-style tactics. Washington Times: GOP blocks defense, homeland bills

    TIGHT SENATE RACES IN TN, VA, MO, MT, OH, PA, RI GIVE DEMS "NEW HOPE": Six weeks before Election Day, the Democrats suddenly face a map with unexpected opportunities in their battle for control of the Senate. In Virginia, a state that few expected to be seriously competitive, Senator George Allen looks newly vulnerable after a series of controversies over charges of racial insensitivity, strategists in both parties say. In Tennessee, another Southern state long considered safely red, Representative Harold E. Ford Jr., a Democrat, has run a strong campaign that has kept that state in contention. Elsewhere, Democratic challengers are either ahead or close in races in five states held by the Republicans: Missouri, Montana, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island, according to political strategists in both parties and the latest polls. All of these races could shift direction in a matter of days, let alone six weeks, and Republicans are counting on their superior finances and large blocks of television advertising to hold the line. New York Times: New Hope for Democrats in Bid for Senate

    DEMS EYE A BLUE CO: The colors are changing this autumn in Colorado - from solid Republican red to something approaching a strong tint of Democratic blue. A GOP stronghold from the mid-1990s through President Bush's first term, Colorado has emerged as one of the Democrats' principal prospects for gains in the 2006 election. Polls show Democrats holding an edge in most of the state's key contests, including an open House seat and the battle between Democrat Bill Ritter and Republican Rep. Bob Beauprez for the governorship. "Anything is possible, but if we were having this election today, the Democrats would be in control of Colorado, from the governorship to a majority of the congressional seats to both houses of the state Legislature," said Floyd Ciruli, a Denver-based independent pollster. Los Angeles Times: As Democrats Look West, Colorado Budges

    HP'S HURD AND DUNN TO TESTIFY TODAY: Hewlett-Packard's boardroom scandal moves today to Capitol Hill, where former company Chairwoman Patricia Dunn is expected to deliver dramatic testimony that she was encouraged to investigate her own board members and that she was convinced legal methods were being employed. Dunn will testify alongside other major players in the drama -- including HP's CEO Mark Hurd and the legendary Silicon Valley lawyer Larry Sonsini -- who also will stand before the House Energy and Commerce Committee, gathered to investigate the matter. Dunn, who left the company last week amid increased criticism of her handling of an investigation of media leaks at the technology giant, points the finger directly at HP's chief financial officer, Bob Wayman, saying she believed he had approved the use of certain private investigators to conduct the probe, according to an advance copy of her testimony. San Francisco Chronicle: HP leak debacle moves to Congress

    BOEHNER "APPEARS TO BE ON SOLID GROUND" TO STAY ON AS LEADER: One year ago today, then-Rep. Tom DeLay (R-Texas) announced he would temporarily step down as Majority Leader after he was indicted by a Texas grand jury. Now, the man who was elected to replace him in that post, Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio), appears to be on solid ground to keep his seat at the leadership table in the 110th Congress - even if it's in the minority. Boehner has been Majority Leader for eight months in a session of Congress marked by leadership upheavals, ethical and criminal scandals and few major legislative victories, and yet - in the estimation of his colleagues - he has emerged largely unscathed. Roll Call: Boehner Looks Secure in 110th

    JUST "TEPID SUPPORT" FOR MURTHA'S LEADERSHIP BID: Liberal House Democrats are not lining up behind Rep. Jack Murtha's (D-Pa.) leadership candidacy in the numbers he had hoped despite his outspoken stance against the Iraq war. Murtha's failure to line up staunch opponents of the war could prove a blow to his hope of denying the majority leadership to Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (Md.) in the event of a Democratic takeover of the House in the 110th Congress. Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.), a friend of Murtha who has been helping him with the race, said tepid support among some progressives was a worry to him. The Hill: 'Concern' in Murtha camp

    GIVING MEHLMAN A RIDE PAID OFF FOR TWIN CITIES: In the end, personal connections, a chance ride to the airport and rivals overcoming their differences helped land the 2008 Republican national convention in the Twin Cities. On an October day last year, Tom Mason, who served as Gov. Tim Pawlenty's chief of staff, finished breakfast at St. Paul's Downtowner with Pawlenty and visiting Republican National Committee chairman Ken Mehlman and offered Mehlman a lift. While he drove, Mason listened as Mehlman raved about Minnesota's beauty, its fall weather and its political value as a swing state and thought "Gee, we might have a shot at long last." Minneapolis Star-Tribune: Wooing both parties was bipartisan effort that paid off

    TONY SNOW HITS THE STUMP FOR GOP CANDIDATES: Tony Snow, the White House press secretary, formerly of Fox News, still likes to think of himself as a journalist by trade. But on Wednesday, he made clear that his transition to pitchman was complete: He announced he had begun headlining fund-raisers for Republicans. "I wanted to be able to help the president," Mr. Snow told reporters, explaining that he was about to become the first White House press secretary - to his knowledge - to help raise money for candidates... Mr. Snow, who is often asked to sign autographs and pose for pictures with fans when he travels with President Bush, said the White House political shop asked him several months ago if he would be willing to go on tour. His first appearance, he said, was last week in Harrisburg, Pa., for the state Republican Party. On Wednesday night, he gave a talk in Washington to benefit a House candidate in Minnesota. New York Times: Tony Snow, Now a Headliner

    DON'T BLAME CLINTON, OR BUSH, FOR 9/11... BLAME TERRORISTS, SAYS RUDY: Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani defended Bill Clinton on Wednesday over the former president's counterterrorism efforts, saying recent criticism on preventing the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks is wrong... "The idea of trying to cast blame on President Clinton is just wrong for many, many reasons, not the least of which is I don't think he deserves it," Giuliani said in response to a question after an appearance with fellow Republican Charlie Crist, who is running for governor. "I don't think President Bush deserves it. The people who deserve blame for Sept. 11, I think we should remind ourselves, are the terrorists - the Islamic fanatics - who came here and killed us and want to come here again and do it." AP via Yahoo! News: Giuliani defends Clinton on 9/11 efforts

    HILLARY'S SENATE CHALLENGER SAYS BILL/HILL SHOW "IS GETTING OLD": Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's upstart Republican rival charged yesterday that the former first couple's theatrical attack-and-defend "act is getting old" in the wake of the uproar over who did more to catch Osama. "Once again, President Clinton is wagging his finger with righteous indignation and, once again, Hillary Clinton is rushing to his defense," railed John Spencer, recalling the Clintons' initial reactions to the Monica Lewinsky scandal. "This act is getting old and the American people realize it. The time has come to stop the theatrics." Sen. Clinton's campaign spokesman, Howard Wolfson fired back, "There just isn't enough time in the day to respond every time Mr. Spencer goes off his meds and becomes unhinged." New York Post: FOE MOCKS CLINTONS' 9/11 'ACT'

    "ONE MISSTEP AND MELTDOWN AFTER ANOTHER" FOR ALLEN: Until Aug. 11 and the "macaca" comment, [Sen. George] Allen had a wide lead in the polls over Democrat Jim Webb, Navy secretary in the Reagan administration, and seemed ready to coast to re-election. Since then, however, his campaign has been slowed by Allen's reactions to the revelation his maternal grandparents were Jewish and allegations that he used racial slurs to refer to black people. "It has been one misstep and meltdown after another" for the Allen campaign, Mark McKinnon, a strategist for President Bush, said Tuesday at a panel discussion on political advertising in New York sponsored by USA TODAY. USA TODAY: Controversy clouds Allen's re-election bid

    PIRRO UNDER INVESTIGATION BY FBI: In a jaw-dropping disclosure that could shatter her campaign to become New York's attorney general, Jeanine Pirro said yesterday she is under investigation by the FBI for discussing a plan with former New York City Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik to secretly eavesdrop on her husband. An angry Pirro, at a news conference designed to preempt leaked stories about the probe, said she had contacted private eye Kerik because of suspicions that her lobbyist husband, Albert, was having an affair. But she insisted that bugging her husband would not have been illegal and said she would continue her campaign against Democrat Andrew Cuomo. New York Newsday: Pirro Bugged Over Tap Flap

    MOTIVE MAY HAVE BEEN TO SEE IF HUSBAND WAS HAVING AFFAIR: According to documents now in the hands of several defense attorneys, Pirro and the former New York City Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik were apparently talking about planting a hidden device aboard her husband's boat. Her possible motive may have been to see if he was having an affair. Sources told NewsChannel 4 that in one conversation, Pirro complained that one of Kerik's employees was reluctant to board Albert Pirro's boat. Jeanine Pirro suggests, "We can just simply say, if there is an issue, that I am redecorating it for our anniversary." She complains that Kerik's man is, "uncomfortable with that." Kerik responded by saying, "But Jeanine, I'm having the same f------g problem with everybody. Everybody is panic stricken because it's you. I've gone out on a limb. I had two other people looking at this. It's a problem." Pirro said, "What am I supposed to do, Bernie? Watch him f--k her every night? What am I supposed to do? I can go on the boat. I'll put the f-----g thing on myself." WNBC: Jeanine Pirro Under Criminal Investigation

    CARDIN GETS A LIFT FROM OBAMA; MFUME OFFERS SUPPORT "WITH A CAVEAT": With Sen. Barack Obama coming up from Washington, Rep. Elijah E. Cummings coming down from Baltimore and Rep. Albert R. Wynn coming over from Prince George's County, the rally yesterday was intended to demonstrate the black support behind Rep. Benjamin L. Cardin for U.S. Senate. But former congressman Kweisi Mfume took the opportunity to sound a warning: If Democrats continue to present slates dominated by white men, it will cost the party at the polls. "When the Democratic ticket for statewide office in 2006 still looks like the one from 1956, we have a problem," Mfume told several hundred at the University of Maryland. Baltimore Sun: Backing Cardin, with a caveat

    LIEBERMAN LEADS LAMONT BY 10 IN CT: Sen. Joe Lieberman has a 10-point advantage over Democrat Ned Lamont among likely Connecticut voters, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released Thursday. Lieberman, a three-term Democrat running as an independent after losing the party nomination in a primary, is favored by 49 percent to 39 percent over Lamont in the three-way race. Republican Alan Schlesinger trails with 5 percent. The race has tightened slightly since an Aug. 17 poll that showed Lieberman leading 53 percent to 41 percent. AP via Yahoo! News: Poll: Lieberman leads Lamont in Conn.

    SWANN MAKES GAINS, BUT RENDELL STILL "UNTOUCHABLE" IN PA: Republican Lynn Swann gained a few yards in the governor's race, but incumbent Gov. Ed Rendell still holds a comfortable lead, according to the most recent poll of likely voters. Fifty-five percent support Mr. Rendell while 39 percent support Mr. Swann and 6 percent are undecided, according to poll results released yesterday by Quinnipiac University in Hamden, Conn. Quinnipiac's August poll showed a stronger lead for Mr. Rendell, with voters split 57 percent to 38 percent. Despite Mr. Swann's gain, Mr. Rendell "remains untouchable" with just six weeks until Election Day, said Clay F. Richards, assistant director of Quinnipiac polls. Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: Swann gains, but Rendell still leads poll

    CLINTON BOOKS STONES FOR BIRTHDAY BENEFIT: Baby boomer and former president Bill Clinton is laying plans to celebrate his 60th birthday in grand style with a charitable fundraising extravaganza in New York late next month that will include an invitation-only concert by the Rolling Stones and contributor packages that run to $500,000 and higher. Clinton's daughter, Chelsea, who has generally avoided high-profile participation in her parents' political and philanthropic activities, is serving as co-host of the three-day party. She will host a Saturday brunch on a weekend that also features a golf tournament at the Bayonne (N.J.) Golf Club, multiple receptions and a dinner at the American Museum of Natural History with the former president, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) and Chelsea... The 2,100 invitations began arriving this week. Weekend packages start at $60,000 (Hint: $1,000 for every year of Clinton's age). Next is the "Vice Chair Package," for those who contribute $100,000 or raise $250,000. Those who pledge $500,000 or more will receive the "Birthday Chair Package," which includes the "Backstage Pass" dinner and photo with Clinton and platinum seating at the Saturday dinner and the Stones concert. Washington Post: Bill Clinton's 60th Birthday Benefit Blowout
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