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Friday, October 06, 2006
CNN Political Ticker AM
For the latest, breaking political news, check for updates throughout the day on the CNN Political Ticker. All politics, all the time.

Compiled by Stephen Bach
CNN Washington Bureau

Making news today...


  • President Bush called House Speaker Dennis Hastert Thursday evening and "expressed his support," said White House Deputy Press Secretary Dana Perino.

    The president thanked the speaker for "making a clear public statement today in which he and the House leadership took responsibility and said that they are accountable to the American people," Perino said.

  • A TIME poll conducted this week finds "[t]wo-thirds of Americans aware of the congressional-page sex scandal believe Republican leaders tried to cover it up - and one quarter of them say the affair makes them less likely to vote for G.O.P. candidates in their districts come November."

  • "Three more former congressional pages have come forward to reveal what they call 'sexual approaches' over the Internet from former Congressman Mark Foley," ABC News reported late Thursday afternoon.

  • Condoleezza Rice's surprise visit to Iraq Thursday "began inauspiciously when the military transport plane that brought her to Baghdad was forced to circle the city for about 40 minutes because of what a State Department spokesman later said was either mortar fire or rockets at the airport," the New York Times reports. "On Thursday evening, during her meeting with President Jalal Talabani, the lights went out."

  • USA Today reports "Democrats are within striking distance of winning control of the Senate in the Nov. 7 elections, USA TODAY/Gallup Polls in six key states show as the campaigns head into their final month."

  • "A lot of Pennsylvania voters just plain don't like" Rick Santorum, AP reports. So how is the Senator trying to overcome his unpopularity? Find out in Hot Topics below!

    President's schedule:

  • With new job numbers due out today at 8:30 am ET, President Bush participates this morning in a roundtable on job growth and the economy at the FedEx Express DCA Facility in Washington. He'll make a statement on the subject at 11:10 am ET.

  • At 2:30 pm ET, Bush makes remarks at a Hispanic Heritage Month Celebration in the East Room.

    Also on the Political Radar today:

  • GOV debates in Wisconsin and Texas. Dem incumbent Gov. Jim Doyle and Republican challenger Rep. Mark Green square off tonight in Milwaukee, and four candidates debate in Texas, including independent satirist Kinky Friedman.

    The Houston Chronicle comments on Kinky's strategy: "Friedman wants viewers to see him as the non-politician in a crowd of suits. However, he must avoid looking like a kook."

  • California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and Democratic challenger Phil Angelides hold a debate this Saturday at CalState Sacramento - "their only scheduled joint appearance before the Nov. 7 election," notes the Sacramento Bee.

  • Senator George Allen hosts his 11th annual "Hoe Down" Saturday in Maidens, Virginia . Donations of $50 get you in the door with a "Ranch Hand" ticket, while $10K earns you access to a private reception and the envious title "El Ranchero Grande."

    =================================================================

    Political Hot Topics

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

    BUSH CALLS HASTERT TO EXPRESS SUPPORT: President Bush called House Speaker Dennis Hastert, under fire for his handling of the Mark Foley scandal, and "expressed his support," White House Deputy Press Secretary Dana Perino said. In the Thursday evening conversation, which lasted only a few minutes, the president thanked the speaker for "making a clear public statement today in which he and the House leadership took responsibility and said that they are accountable to the American people," Perino said. The president also said he appreciated that "when leadership found out about the lurid [Foley] emails, that they swiftly made clear that Foley must resign and that they promptly called for a professional investigation by the DOJ," according to Perino. CNN: Bush standing by embattled Hastert

    TIME POLL REFLECTS GOP WORRIES ABOUT FOLEY FALLOUT: Two-thirds of Americans aware of the congressional-page sex scandal believe Republican leaders tried to cover it up - and one quarter of them say the affair makes them less likely to vote for G.O.P. candidates in their districts come November. Those are among the findings of a new TIME poll conducted this week among 1,002 randomly-selected voting-age Americans. The poll suggests the Foley affair may have dented Republican hopes of retaining control of Congress in November. Among the registered voters who were polled, 54% said they would be more likely to vote for the Democratic candidate for Congress, compared with 39% who favored the Republican. That margin may be fueled by the rolling scandal over sexually explicit e-mails sent to teenage pages by Republican Representative Mark Foley. TIME: The Foley Sex Scandal Has Hurt G.O.P. Election Prospects

    REYNOLDS, SUDDENLY TRAILING, SEES THE FOLEY EFFECT FIRST-HAND: National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Tom Reynolds (N.Y.), who was considered a safe bet for re-election just a few weeks ago, was trailing his Democratic challenger in the first public polls released since the scandal surrounding former Rep. Mark Foley (R-Fla.) broke out... Reynolds, who said he brought concerns over Foley's relationship with young pages to Hastert - and whose chief of staff resigned Wednesday over the Foley scandal - was trailing businessman Jack Davis (D) in two new polls. Davis, a factory owner, was leading Reynolds 50 percent to 42 percent in a poll conducted for Davis by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research. Roll Call: Scandal Takes Toll on Reynolds Poll Numbers

    HASTERT: "THE BUCK STOPS HERE": House Speaker Dennis Hastert offered a public apology Thursday for his handling of a complaint about a congressman's suggestive electronic messages to an underage page as the House ethics committee opened an investigation into former Rep. Mark Foley's contacts with pages. "I'm deeply sorry this has happened and the bottom line is we're taking responsibility," Hastert told a news conference outside his district office in Batavia, Ill. "The buck stops here."... Hastert's office also floated the idea of appointing former FBI Director Louis Freeh, who is reviled by many Democrats because of his clashes with the Clinton White House, to examine procedures for protecting pages. House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi of California objected, however, arguing that the ethics committee should first examine whether current procedures were followed, a spokeswoman said. Chicago Tribune: Hastert takes responsibility, but won't step down

    ETHICS COMMITTEE WANTS "TO COMPLETE THE INQUIRY IN A MATTER OF WEEKS": The House ethics committee launched a wide-ranging investigation into Congress's handling of information about a Florida lawmaker and teenage pages yesterday, as Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) vowed to keep his job, saying, "I haven't done anything wrong." The ethics panel approved nearly four dozen subpoenas for documents and testimony from House members, officers and aides. Its leaders said they plan to complete the inquiry in a matter of weeks, but not necessarily before the Nov. 7 congressional elections... The committee's inquiry will proceed in tandem with investigations by the FBI and Florida officials. Unlike those agencies, the ethics committee has no jurisdiction over Foley... Hastings said his committee will focus on the "conduct of House members, officers and staff related to information concerning improper conduct involving members and current and former pages." Washington Post: Inquiry To Look At House, Not Foley

    ISTOOK AIDE WILL TALK: A former congressional page is willing to talk to the FBI and the U.S. House Ethics Committee about former Rep. Mark Foley, his attorney said Thursday. "He will answer fully and truthfully any questions put to him," attorney Stephen Jones said. Jordan Edmund, 21, has been working on Republican Rep. Ernest Istook's gubernatorial campaign. Istook, of Warr Acres, admitted Thursday at a hastily called news conference the scandal has affected his campaign. "Things are a distraction, but it doesn't stop the momentum that we've been gaining," Istook said. The Oklahoman: Istook aide to cooperate with inquiry

    LA PAGE'S FAMILY WANTS TO BE LEFT ALONE, CALLS SON "A HERO": The family of a Louisiana teenager who reported "sick" e-mails from former Rep. Mark Foley called their son a hero Thursday and said they want reporters to go away. Foley resigned last week after Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, a left-leaning watchdog group, posted some of the e-mails he exchanged with the former male page in 2005, who was then 16 and had worked for Rep. Rodney Alexander, a Louisiana Republican. The family's statement calls the e-mails "ambiguous" and expresses support for Alexander. Saying the family wishes to remain anonymous, the statement adds that the former page is "becoming a victim due to harassment by some of the media." CNN: Page's family: Leave our 'hero' son alone

    ABC NEWS REPORTS FOLEY'S "ONLINE SEXUAL APPROACHES" WITH 3 MORE PAGES: Three more former congressional pages have come forward to reveal what they call "sexual approaches" over the Internet from former Congressman Mark Foley. The pages served in the classes of 1998, 2000 and 2002. They independently approached ABC News after the Foley resignation through the Brian Ross & the Investigative Team's tip line on ABCNews.com. None wanted their names used because of the sensitive nature of the communications. ABC News' "The Blotter": Three More Former Pages Accuse Foley of Online Sexual Approaches

    "IN THE GOP RANKS, HOMOSEXUALITY IS STILL POLITICALLY RISKY": At the Republican National Convention in 2000, Rep. Mark Foley hosted a late-night bash at a Philadelphia gay bar, where an acquaintance snapped a photo of an attractive young intern sitting on the Florida congressman's lap. Months later, according to the acquaintance, when she offered to send him the photo, Foley looked anxious. The intern, "male or female?" he inquired. "Female" was the reply. "Oh, thank God," Foley responded. "Send me that photo, I might need it someday." For most Republicans, being photographed in a compromising position with a young woman could be scandalous. But in the sometimes strained world of gay Republicans, it was an asset... Gays hold many prominent positions in government and business in Washington. But in the GOP ranks, homosexuality is still politically risky. In fact, with the exception of the military, perhaps no institution in America has as strong a "don't ask, don't tell" approach as the Republican Party. Los Angeles Times: Path Is Risky for Gay GOP Politicians

    DEMS "HAVE AT LEAST A 50-50 SHOT AT WINNING CONTROL" OF THE SENATE: Democrats are within striking distance of winning control of the Senate in the Nov. 7 elections, USA TODAY/Gallup Polls in six key states show as the campaigns head into their final month. The number of Republican-held seats with competitive Democratic challengers has expanded to include Virginia and Tennessee, where Democrat Harold Ford Jr. now holds a 5-percentage-point lead over Republican Bob Corker among likely voters. In Missouri, GOP Sen. Jim Talent narrowly trails Democrat Claire McCaskill, and in Rhode Island, Sen. Lincoln Chafee faces a double-digit deficit against Democrat Sheldon Whitehouse. The surveys, taken Sept. 27 to Oct. 1, have error margins of +/—5 percentage points for the likely-voter samples. The landscape has improved for Democrats since the USA TODAY/Gallup state polls taken just before Labor Day. "You'd have to say they have at least a 50-50 shot at winning control," says political scientist Alan Abramowitz of Emory University. "That's certainly better than anybody expected a few weeks ago." USA Today: Race for Senate control tightens

    THE "GOD GAP" IS SHRINKING: Even a small shift in the loyalty of conservative Christian voters such as Sunde could spell trouble for the GOP this fall. In 2004, white evangelical or born-again Christians made up a quarter of the electorate, and 78 percent of them voted Republican, according to exit polls. But some pollsters believe that evangelical support for the GOP peaked two years ago and that what has been called the "God gap" in politics is shrinking. A nationwide poll of 1,500 registered voters released yesterday by the nonpartisan Pew Research Center found that 57 percent of white evangelicals are inclined to vote for Republican congressional candidates in the midterm elections, a 21-point drop in support among this critical part of the GOP base. Washington Post: GOP's Hold on Evangelicals Weakening

    "BUBBA'S BACK": Suddenly, Bill Clinton is everywhere: leading a multibillion-dollar fund-raising effort for his global good works project, planning his own 60th-birthday party featuring the Rolling Stones, sitting for a flurry of animated television interviews to flog his foundation, refurbish his reputation and fire up Democratic voters. Bubba's back. And he is bringing the whole complicated Clinton package with him as he bounds back on the national political stage in the closing stage of a hard-fought election. He is at once a brilliant political tactician capable of losing his temper on national television, a reminder of a decade of relative peace and prosperity and eight years of investigation and impeachment, and a gray-haired statesman keenly focused on the next political prize. New York Times: A Rescue Bid for His Party and His Reputation, Too

    NOT JUST WH PRESS SECY... THE VOICE OF NU-VU WINDOWS AND SIDING: On any given day, radio listeners can hear Tony Snow, the White House press secretary, selling the president's policies on Iraq, terrorism and the economy. But if they live in Iowa, they have also been able to hear him selling the home products of Nu-Vu Windows and Siding, in an advertisement he recorded back when he was a Fox News radio host who regularly plugged his local and national sponsors. Unbeknown to Mr. Snow, who moved to the White House last spring, the spot, which he recorded about three years ago, was running recently on radio station WHO-AM in Des Moines. Mr. Snow found out about it Monday when O. Kay Henderson, the news director of another outlet, Radio Iowa, called the White House to make sure she was not hearing things before writing about it on her blog. New York Times: Tony Snow's Moonlighting Job: Unwitting Pitchman on Radio

    NASTY WORDS FLY IN WI GOV RACE: For voters who follow the television ads and campaign statements, it would seem that Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle and Republican challenger Mark Green are as likely to wind up in jail as in the governor's office. With the election just over a month away, the rhetoric from both campaigns has become overheated, with accusations of "rigged votes," "dirty money," corruption and lying. Here's a typical news release headline from the Doyle campaign: "Congressman Green broke the law and now he's lying to distract voters from the truth." And here's one from Green: "Jim Doyle's 'Final' word: Spread lies about Mark Green."... Although both candidates might only ratchet up the attacks in the final month of the campaign, they could also talk about their many differences... They'll get a chance to talk about those differences tonight in Milwaukee in the second of three scheduled debates. Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel: Nothing nice to say

    PATRICK APOLOGIZES FOR NOT FULLY DISCLOSING ADVOCACY FOR RAPIST: Democratic gubernatorial candidate Deval L. Patrick yesterday apologized for not fully disclosing the extent of his advocacy on behalf of convicted rapist Benjamin LaGuer, as he struggled to move past the biggest controversy of his campaign. "I apologize to anyone who feels we didn't come forward with all the facts," Patrick said at a campaign event in Worcester. Patrick told reporters he should have researched his involvement in the case before offering statements over the past week that minimized his role. "We screwed up in terms of how we have handled doing the homework before we answered questions about this issue, no question about that," he said. "And I take the responsibility for that." Boston Globe: Patrick apologizes for disclosure missteps

    ARNOLD CRITICIZED FOR ASSIMILATION COMMENT: No stranger to sensitive ethnic remarks, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger drew criticism Thursday for saying Mexican Americans have acculturation problems "because they are so close to their country here" while collectively praising Asian Americans for "assimilating into the American way of living." Democratic lawmakers supporting gubernatorial challenger Phil Angelides charged that the Republican governor was once again engaging in "divisive" racial stereotyping in remarks similar to taped comments he made about Cuban and Puerto Rican women that were revealed last month. Schwarzenegger spoke Thursday in Los Angeles' Chinatown at a celebration of the Moon Festival, a fall holiday recognized by various Asian cultures, to promote a new law to study relaxed health standards for traditional ethnic foods such as moon cakes. Sacramento Bee: Governor's ethnicity comments criticized
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