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Monday, October 09, 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...



  • North Korea claimed it conducted a successful underground nuclear test Monday, according to the country's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), report CNN's Jamie McIntyre, Barbara Starr, Sohn Jie-ae and Elise Labott.

    The apparent nuclear test was conducted at 10:36 am local time (9:36 pm ET Sunday night) in Hwaderi near Kilju city, South Korea's Yonhap news agency reported, citing defense officials.

    A U.S. military official told CNN that "something clearly has happened," but the Pentagon was working to fully confirm the report.

    With this test, reports the New York Times, North Korea becomes "the eighth country in history, and arguably the most unstable and most dangerous, to proclaim that it has joined the club of nuclear weapons states."

  • Rep. Jim Kolbe (R-Arizona) "knew of disgraced former representative Mark Foley's inappropriate Internet exchanges as far back as 2000," reports the Washington Post. The "revelation pushes back by at least five years the date when a member of Congress has acknowledged learning of Foley's behavior with former pages."

  • CNN's Dana Bash reports ex-Foley Chief of Staff Kirk Fordham expects to testify this week before the House ethics committee.

    For more, check out Dana's story on The Ticker.

  • A Newsweek poll released Saturday showed President Bush's approval rating at 33 percent, "a new all-time low" in that poll.

  • John Kerry was in IA yesterday, will be in NV Tues. and Weds., and NH Friday. "After that, he'll visit 11 more states, including South Carolina, before the Nov. 7 election," reports the Boston Globe. "Kerry's moves over the last several months have convinced his inner circle that he intends to launch another run for president."

  • And after showing up EVERYWHERE to push his new book, "The Confession" (Oprah, Today, The Daily Show(!)), why didn't Jim McGreevey show up for an appearance on Letterman? Find out in Hot Topics below!

    On the Political Radar today:

  • Sen. George Allen (R-Virginia) and Democratic challenger Jim Webb square off in Richmond tonight at an 8 pm ET televised debate, moderated by CBS News' Russ Mitchell.

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

    Political Hot Topics

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

    NORTH KOREA SAYS IT HAS TESTED NUKE: North Korea claimed it conducted a successful underground nuclear test Monday, according to the country's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA). China, a close ally of North Korea, denounced the claimed test as "brazen" and South Korea said it would respond "sternly." The United States said a test would constitute a "provocative act." South Korea's president said Pyongyang's claimed test "broke the trust of the international community." President Roh Moo-hyun said it brought "a severe situation that threatens stability on the Korean Peninsula and in northeast Asia." CNN: North Korea claims nuclear test

    "THE MOST UNSTABLE AND MOST DANGEROUS" CLUB MEMBER: North Korea said Sunday night that it had set off its first nuclear test, becoming the eighth country in history, and arguably the most unstable and most dangerous, to proclaim that it has joined the club of nuclear weapons states. The test came just two days after the country was warned by the United Nations Security Council that the action could lead to severe consequences. American officials cautioned that they had not yet received any confirmation that the test had occurred. The United States Geological Survey said it had detected a tremor of 4.2 magnitude on the Korean Peninsula. China called the test a "flagrant and brazen" violation of international opinion and said it "firmly opposes" North Korea's conduct. New York Times: N. Korea Reports 1st Nuclear Arms Test

    KOLBE SAW FOLEY EMAILS "AS FAR BACK AS 2000": A Republican congressman knew of disgraced former representative Mark Foley's inappropriate Internet exchanges as far back as 2000 and personally confronted Foley about his communications. A spokeswoman for Rep. Jim Kolbe (R-Ariz.) confirmed yesterday that a former page showed the congressman Internet messages that had made the youth feel uncomfortable with the direction Foley (R-Fla.) was taking their e-mail relationship. Last week, when the Foley matter erupted, a Kolbe staff member suggested to the former page that he take the matter to the clerk of the House, Karen Haas, said Kolbe's press secretary, Korenna Cline. The revelation pushes back by at least five years the date when a member of Congress has acknowledged learning of Foley's behavior with former pages. Washington Post: Lawmaker Saw Foley Messages In 2000

    PROBE "MAY HINGE ON WHAT TRANSPIRED ON A FALL AFTERNOON LAST YEAR": For all the questions and curiosities, for all the contradictions and inconsistencies in the tale of Mark Foley, the investigation into how Republicans handled concerns about his conduct may hinge on what transpired on a fall afternoon last year, when a private meeting was hastily convened in his office. Jeff Trandahl, the clerk of the House, and Representative John Shimkus, an Illinois Republican who leads the board overseeing the Congressional page program, had come from the House floor to confront Mr. Foley, a Republican congressman from Florida, about reports that he had been exchanging e-mail messages with a Louisiana teenager who had worked as a page on Capitol Hill. New York Times: '05 Meeting Could Clarify G.O.P. Role in Foley Case

    FORDHAM WILL MEET ETHICS PANEL THIS WEEK: A former Republican congressional aide, who says he tried to warn the House speaker's top aide about then-Rep. Mark Foley's, R-Florida, inappropriate behavior towards pages, expects to testify this week before the House ethics committee. Kirk Fordham's attorney tells CNN he was in touch with the Committee on Standards of Official Conduct on Friday, and expects Fordham to tell the panel under oath what he has been saying publicly: that House Speaker Dennis Hastert's, R-Illinois, chief of staff, Scott Palmer, knew about Foley's worrisome conduct long before the speaker's office admits. CNN Political Ticker: Former Foley aide set to testify before ethics panel

    REYNOLDS TRAILS 48-33 IN NEW POLL: Democrat Jack Davis has opened a significant lead over Republican incumbent Thomas M. Reynolds in a congressional contest fueled by Reynolds' association with the Mark Foley sex scandal. Davis leads Reynolds 48 percent to 33 percent in a new Zogby International poll conducted for The Buffalo News, prompting pollster John Zogby to conclude that Davis poses a genuine threat to the longtime powerhouse from Clarence. "There is no other way to look at these numbers except to say Tom Reynolds is in trouble," the Utica-based Zogby said. The poll surveyed 402 likely voters in the 26th Congressional District on Wednesday and Thursday (with a margin for error of plus or minus 5 percentage points). Buffalo News: Reynolds is badly trailing Davis, poll shows

    EVANGELICALS DON'T SEE "INSTITUTIONAL DYSFUNCTION" IN GOP AFTER FOLEY: As word of Representative Mark Foley's sexually explicit e-mail messages to former pages spread last week, Republican strategists worried - and Democrats hoped - that the sordid nature of the scandal would discourage conservative Christians from going to the polls. But in dozens of interviews here in southeastern Virginia, a conservative Christian stronghold that is a battleground in races for the House and Senate, many said the episode only reinforced their reasons to vote for their two Republican incumbents in neck-and-neck re-election fights, Representative Thelma Drake and Senator George Allen... Most of the evangelical Christians interviewed said that so far they saw Mr. Foley's behavior as a matter of personal morality, not institutional dysfunction. New York Times: Evangelicals Blame Foley, Not Republican Party

    BUSH APPROVAL HITS NEW LOW IN NEWSWEEK POLL: For the first time since 2001, the NEWSWEEK poll shows that more Americans trust the Democrats than the GOP on moral values and the war on terror. Fully 53 percent of Americans want the Democrats to win control of Congress next month, including 10 percent of Republicans, compared to just 35 percent who want the GOP to retain power. If the election were held today, 51 percent of likely voters would vote for the Democrat in their district versus 39 percent who would vote for the Republican... Meanwhile, the president's approval rating has fallen to a new all-time low for the Newsweek poll: 33 percent, down from an already anemic 36 percent in August. Newsweek: A Political Limbo

    "PROBLEMS REMAIN" FOR MILITARY BALLOTS: The system used by military personnel to cast absentee votes is still not working well, six years after the problem was highlighted by disqualified ballots in the contested Florida recount of 2000, election officials say. But the Pentagon is releasing statistics and fact sheets to show that armed-forces voting is, in fact, increasing, with more avenues available to the estimated 1.7 million uniformed and civilian personnel in the states and abroad to obtain ballots. This year, Congress has heard from many sources, including the election commission and the Government Accountability Office, that problems remain less than a month before the Nov. 7 midterm elections. Washington Times: Military ballots still have glitches

    NY DEMS "POISED TO POUND GAVELS" AFTER NOVEMBER: New York lawmakers are poised to pound gavels as powerful congressional committee bosses should Democrats win control of the House and Senate next month amid the GOP congressional page scandal. Electing a Democratic majority on Nov. 7 - which would mean picking up 15 seats in the House and six in the Senate - would propel the dean of New York's congressional delegation into one of the most powerful roles in the House. Rep. Charles Rangel (D-Harlem) is poised to take the reins of the supremely influential Ways and Means Committee, which oversees the nation's tax laws... Rangel's New York City colleague Rep. Nydia Velazquez (D-Brooklyn) is in line to take control of the Small Business Committee and Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-Rochester) is slated to run the Rules Committee. On the Senate side, Sen. Charles Schumer stands to gain the most from a Democratic victory as the boss of the Senate Democrats' election committee. New York Post: N.Y. POLS WINNERS IF DEMS TAKE D.C.

    ALLEN, WEBB SQUARE OFF IN VA: Virginia Sen. George Allen (R) pleaded last week for a debate on issues instead of character. He might get it Monday night in what could be his final face-to-face meeting with Democratic challenger James Webb. The two will square off for an hour at a Richmond television studio in a debate that will be televised live in the Richmond area and on WETA (Channel 26) in Northern Virginia. The 8 p.m. debate will be moderated by Russ Mitchell, co-anchor of "The Saturday Early Show" on CBS. The debate could set the tone for the final month of the campaign as both men struggle to communicate their positions on issues that have been largely overshadowed by personal controversy. Washington Post: Debate May Shift Focus To Issues

    AP REPORTS ALLEN "FAILED TO REPORT STOCK OPTIONS": For the past five years, Sen. George Allen has failed to tell Congress about stock options he got for his work as a director of a high-tech company. The Virginia Republican also asked the Army to help another business that gave him similar options. Congressional rules require senators to disclose to the Senate all deferred compensation, such as stock options. The rules also urge senators to avoid taking any official action that could benefit them financially or appear to do so. Those requirements exist so the public can police lawmakers for possible conflicts of interest, especially involving companies with government business that lawmakers can influence. Allen's stock options date to the period from January 1998 to January 2001 when Allen was between political jobs and had plunged into the corporate world. AP via Yahoo! News: Allen failed to report stock options

    TALENT, McGASKILL BATTLE ON "MEET": Missouri GOP Sen. Jim Talent and Democratic rival Claire McCaskill battled Sunday over the House page scandal and the leadership of President George W. Bush in a nationally televised debate. Engaged in one of the tightest and most closely watched races in the country, Talent and McCaskill disagreed on the first question out of the box on NBC's "Meet the Press": Whether House Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., should resign amid questions about his handling of the congressional page sex scandal. McCaskill, Missouri's state auditor, said yes... Polls show the Senate race in Missouri to be a dead heat, one of a handful of contests that will determine which party controls the Senate after November. St. Louis Post-Dispatch: Two not of a kind: Talent, McCaskill on 'Meet the Press'

    NO NEEDED "BREAKTHROUGH" FOR ANGELIDES AT DEBATE: Worried Democrats said Sunday that Phil Angelides failed to achieve the breakthrough he needed in the sole gubernatorial debate and expressed fear that his campaign's trajectory threatened others on the statewide ticket... Though few thought Angelides did poorly in the debate, there was wide agreement that Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger benefited the most from Saturday night's allotted 55-minute session, largely because nothing occurred to change the essential dynamic of the race. Angelides, the state treasurer, entered the evening desperately needing to redefine a contest that by all measures - polling, fundraising, party morale - was going badly for him. And he needed the lift not just for himself, but for fellow Democratic candidates counting on him to spur a strong turnout Nov. 7. Los Angeles Times: Angelides Seen as a Drag on the Party

    KERRY'S ADVISERS CONVINCED HE'S RUNNING: Yesterday , Senator John F. Kerry was in Iowa. Tomorrow and Wednesday, he'll be in Nevada. On Friday, he'll be in New Hampshire. After that, he'll visit 11 more states, including South Carolina, before the Nov. 7 election. With a frenetic pace of barnstorming and fund-raising on behalf of Democratic candidates, Kerry's moves over the last several months have convinced his inner circle that he intends to launch another run for president. Kerry himself insisted he has not decided whether to run. But more than a dozen longtime loyalists interviewed for this story said they had no doubt that Kerry would attempt what a host of Washington doubters think unimaginable: become the first Democrat in half a century to lose a general election and be renominated four years later. Boston Globe: Kerry's barnstorming sparks talk of a run

    CLARK IN DES MOINES... JUST "HERE FOR 2006": Former presidential candidate and retired Gen. Wesley Clark said Sunday that any positive solution to the deteriorating situation in Iraq would have to come with a new presidency - and a Democratic Congress. "This administration is driving us into a ditch. You can't stay the course, and you've got to find a new direction," said Clark, who was in Des Moines to campaign for U.S. Rep. Leonard Boswell, D-Ia. Clark's apparent furor over the war wasn't shared only with reporters. In a conversation with Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Ia., and Rep. Jim Oberstar, D-Minn., he pounded a fist into one hand when making the point, telling them he would do "everything I can" to change the course of the war. Clark was mum on whether he would launch a 2008 presidential bid. He said he was "here for 2006." Des Moines Register: Clark attends D.M. rally to campaign for Boswell

    WHY McGREEVEY DIDN'T SHOW ON LETTERMAN: David Letterman made a big deal recently about former New Jersey Gov. Jim McGreevey failing to show up to read one of his Top 10 lists. Letterman was under the impression he would be on hand to deliver "Chapter Titles in Jim McGreevey's Book," including "The Day I Got Caught Governing Myself," "How To Pretend to Like Girls for 47 Years" and "The New Jersey Budget Crisis--What Would Judy Garland Do?" It didn't happen. Instead, the list was delivered by writer Gerard Mulligan... "Actually I was on Jon Stewart's show that same day," McGreevey told Armour & Co. when we sat down with him a few days ago. "The plan was the possibility of a sit-down interview and also to do the Top 10 list." McGreevey said he ultimately begged off because his message of not living in fear because of your lifestyle might have been lost in the funny. "That was the message and that sort of was the concern with the Letterman show," he said. Chicago Tribune: Letterman gig wasn't right, McGreevey says
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